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Oh, if it were only so easy. Right? I recently decided it was time to replace the broken blinds in my family room. You know when blinds lose their spring and they just roll down? We have them jammed at the top to stop them from moving. But obviously, that is not a long-term solution. And particularly impossible on days when the sun streams in on my hands and screen. It feels warm. But I have a lot of difficulties seeing what I am doing!

So, I called in a blind company. Free measure and quote. The assortment of options was amazing. I could choose so many different types, colours, and patterns. See-through, block-out. The choices were endless. I had some criteria – colour, pattern style, double roller. But it was a difficult choice – I am glad she had the swatches so I could see what I liked!

If only I could have that for my classroom. Call in a specialist who would evaluate my classroom for FREE! Then tell me what curriculum frameworks I should use that would suit my whole class. And for an extra cost – write it all up for me. Even develop the curriculum. And away I go! YES!

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If only!

The reality is we do have specialists. School psychologists, social workers and counsellors. They give us valuable information about the needs of our specific children. But we now need to develop a curriculum that will suit them. How do we go about doing that, within the context of our classroom environment? A classroom that has 28 or so other children in it.

I have written before about how you can use curriculum frameworks to help you plan for an inclusive classroom. But how do you go about choosing the right one for you? For your classroom? For your students? Let me introduce you to five criteria that you should consider.

Complementary frameworks are essential

Let me start by emphasizing that not one Framework will do what you need it to do. As I discovered when hanging my blinds – I have some that are block-out, some that are sun sheers, and even a lovely fabric Roman blind. They all work together in a complementary way. Similarly, we need to look for complementary frameworks. We need to choose a framework that is appropriate to our circumstances. That will comprehensively cover all our contexts and needs, yet one that is flexible and adaptable. And of course, it should be practical – no point in choosing a framework that is so theoretical, that we are not sure it will ever work. Finally, I recommend one that is well supported by an extensive body of research – so you know it works!

Setting Your Criteria

  1. Curriculum area – first of all, you need to consider the curriculum area you are teaching. How does the model approach the teaching of your curriculum area? Some frameworks are suited better to a specific subject – for example, the curriculum cycle (coming soon) works well in the humanities. But others, such as William’s Model, were designed to work across all areas of the curriculum.
  2. Content – next we consider what content you might teach. How does the model deal with teaching your intended content? Are you teaching lower-order thinking skills? Covering a knowledge base? Then you might choose Bloom’s Taxonomy
  3. Teaching Process/strategy – What are the teaching and learning processes you wish to use – what does the framework suggest? You need to be comfortable with the approach suggested. Most frameworks give you guidelines for developing specific learning experiences – such as William’s 18 Teaching Behaviours. Read through these carefully and consider how you would use them in your classroom.
  4. Product – what are the products that the framework suggests you develop? Some of them are quite explicit – such as Maker’s Model with a focus on the Real world. Is this something you can do in your classroom?
  5. Learning Environment – what is your context? How adaptable and flexible is your space? This will affect how you approach your teaching and what teaching strategies and products you will choose. If you are fully flexible you might choose the Universal Design for Learning framework (coming soon), or Maker’s Model, which is a very student-centred approach.
  6. Suited best for which of my students? Each of the curriculum frameworks makes explicit and implicit assumptions about learners, you need to be aware of these before you choose which one you wish to use. A good understanding of the frameworks will help you make the best choice about which students it is best suited to. But also, how they can then be best adapted to suit your classroom needs.

Need Help?

Curriculum-Journeys-coverSo, I can hear you asking, “Does that mean each year I have to go through the process of deciding on which curriculum framework to use?” Yes. Because unlike my new blinds – your programming and planning will not last for five or even ten years. Each year you have a new group of students. So, each year will bring some changes. However, help is available.

My latest book, Curriculum Journeys – Towards Inclusion (A Journey through the world of Curriculum Frameworks for the inclusive education of ALL students), gives more detail on the process of planning for an inclusive classroom. Framed as a journey through curriculum frameworks, the book takes you, the practising teacher, through seven different planning frameworks for developing a 21st Century inclusive classroom learning environment, one where all students can learn. You can find it on Amazon now!

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