Darlington School: Professional Development Spotlight: Wood Fellowship Supports Curriculum Development for Pre-K to 8
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Professional Development Spotlight: Wood Fellowship Supports Curriculum Development for Pre-K to 8

Steve McConnell | November 20, 2016 | 442 views

The Carla and Leonard Wood Distinguished Faculty grant is supporting a cross-divisional group of teachers representing pre-K to 8 in their effort to best align the social studies/history and writing/composition curriculum into a well-organized and purposefully designed scope and sequence.


Working together on this project are Laura Hicks, Beth Smith, Bebe Cline, Patrick Collier, Kaitlin Ward, Jody Deaton, Charlie Beaucham, Renee Hutchins, and me. Our goal is to eliminate academic gaps and needless repetitions. Once Darlington’s scope and sequence is defined, teaching is purposeful and logically sequenced so students are learning required content and skills that will prepare them for more challenging work.


This grant has provided funding to support an amazing journey into a truly student-centered approach to designing curriculum. The two teams have been given an extraordinary exercise that has pushed and challenged both in ways never thought possible. The work has been both meaningful and demanding. The teams quickly learned the depth of this process and that the solution would not be found in a single after-school gathering or a one-hour-meeting. Each member of the teams has been thoughtful, passionate, and willing to sacrifice certain ideas of teaching in order to provide the best curriculum that will support the development of a profile of a Darlington student.


The grassroots process allowed the teams to study the current scope and sequence of each grade level and identify the needs and gaps in order to develop a concise and connected curriculum with a defined vertical alignment. By analyzing current curriculum, the teams recognized topics covered in middle school can easily relate and crossover to early elementary grades and vice versa. A study of immigration in second grade can be shared with students in seventh grade and planning between the two grades is not only appropriate but welcomed.


The teams also realized basic motor skills development in pre-K benefits advanced writers in middle school. The benefits of consistency across grades and a spiral curriculum provide experiences that combine new ideas with previously learned information.


The committees continue to examine each grade-level curriculum and develop content and subcontent units in addition to determining the skills that should be taught within each of those areas. The teams will work closely with classroom teachers to remind them that content and skills will be in place, but they will continue to have the flexibility to present these with their own style and to add supplemental material that will enhance each area.


Finally, this generous grant has furthered Darlington’s academic program by ensuring learning is built upon previous instruction eliminating unnecessarily repetitive content. This vertical alignment has empowered teachers to see the connectedness of our social studies/history and writing/composition scope and sequence.


The process is giving the teams an authentic, research-based scope and sequence that flows easily from the lower, middle and upper grades while fulfilling the goals outlined in the Portrait of a Darlington Graduate.


Editor's Note: This blog was cowritten by Steve McConnell and Laura Hicks.