5 Big Ideas To Turn Standards Into Curriculum

Ideally, a curriculum works with selected academic standards to frame optimal learning experiences that result in student growth.

In 2012 on Grant Wiggins’ excellent blog, Wiggins and Understanding by Design co-developer Jay McTighe released a short white paper conveying a handful of ‘big ideas’ on the Common Core integration, while also offering some thinking on how these new standards fit into their popular UbD instructional design framework.

That said, these ideas are transferable to other academic standards as well.

An excerpt: “Similarly, while curriculum and instruction must address established Standards, we always want to keep the long-term educational ends in mind – the development of important capabilities in the learner as a result of engaging and effective work. In other words, a curriculum works with the Standards to frame optimal learning experiences. To shift analogies, the Standards are more like the ingredients in a recipe than the final meal; they are more like the rules of the game rather than a strategy for succeeding at the game.”

The big ideas appear below, and the white paper below that. Note that #3 is especially critical–taking your time here is important, as is making sure you and other educators you collaborate with understand the terms on equal ground. This is also where content expertise becomes a factor.

Also, for big idea #5 to hold true, assessment forms must be re-thought in many classrooms, where they exist to measure rather than discover or build.

Ideas For Turning Standards Into Curriculum

  1. Most academic emphasize literacy–close, academic reading, for example
  2. Standards are not curriculum
  3. Standards need to be ‘unpacked’
  4. A coherent curriculum is mapped backward from desired performances
  5. Academic standards come to life through the assessments.

You can download the white paper here.