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Introducing Responsive Curriculum Management

Introducing Responsive Curriculum Management

Abbas Manjee

Abbas Manjee

Chief Academic Officer, Kiddom

Abbas Manjee is Chief Academic Officer at Kiddom. Before Kiddom, Abbas taught high school math serving at-risk youth in New York City. 

Responsive Curriculum Management provides visibility into classroom progress so you can build systems of continuous improvement

Well-designed curriculum affords teachers the opportunity to help students meaningfully connect with the subject matter and engage in deeper learning. In fact, a growing body of research confirms curriculum is a critical factor in academic success.

While these findings might seem obvious, measuring the efficacy of curriculum gets tricky because of the diverse nature of classrooms: teachers modify curriculum to best suit their students, based on the resources and training available to them, and their preferred teaching style. This is what makes teaching and learning beautiful and so powerfully personal.

However, some consistency across classrooms and schools can help school and district leaders make better meaning of student achievement data. Without clear and consistent learning goals and strong curricular design, it can be challenging for administrators to ensure transparency, accountability, and alignment across learning communities.

 

What Challenges Exist Today?

Two challenges make measuring and improving curriculum difficult for administrators.

The first is that curriculum artifacts are generally disconnected from teachers’ day-to-day work. Whether curriculum is purchased from a publisher, adopted from a free provider (e.g. EngageNY), or completely custom, it generally lives in either a curriculum management product or Google Drive/Microsoft Office.

If a school or district relies on a curriculum management product, teachers generally access it at the beginning and end of a term. What the curriculum produces, i.e. the student achievement data, is housed in a gradebook or a learning management system, siloed from the curriculum.

If schools rely on Google Drive or Microsoft Office, collaboration and on-the-go course adjustment gets easier, but there is no way to look at holistic student data and content side by side. To measure the effectiveness of a unit plan housed in a curriculum management product or a Google Doc, administrators must first gather the lesson plans associated with that unit and then separately pull the student achievement data from another source. This practice results in administrators spending far too much time gathering information instead of acting on it to better support classroom instruction.

The second challenge facing administrators is curriculum is a living, breathing roadmap. What’s agreed upon at the beginning of the term never proves enough once the term gets underway, and so it must be fine-tuned on an ongoing basis. This is reality of curriculum design: the work is never done. 

This is why, despite the plethora of curriculum products and services that exist today, teachers still report spending twelve hours a week searching for or creating curricular materials. How much do these additional materials impact student achievement? How could teachers’ lives be improved if curriculum developers at the district office could access the additional materials teachers found and used on an ongoing basis to fine-tune curriculum? 

After months of researching, designing, engineering, and testing solutions for this problem, the Kiddom team is excited to introduce Responsive Curriculum Management on Kiddom Academy to help everyone support the work happening in classrooms more effectively.

 

Responsive Curriculum Management

Using Responsive Curriculum Management, curriculum developers can design and share standards-aligned curriculum directly to their teachers’ Kiddom Planner. The curriculum can be designed centrally in-house, co-designed with teachers, or adapted from a publisher.

When teachers access their respective Planners via Kiddom Classroom, they can view the curriculum map and collaborate with colleagues to build a collection of lessons and activities designed with their students in mind.

Student-facing artifacts from the curriculum, e.g. assessments, quizzes, intervention resources, can be used by teachers and accessed by students directly via Timeline in Kiddom Classroom. Additionally, there are many options to personalize assignments to meet student needs.

As teachers and students move through the planned curriculum, school and district leaders can monitor classroom progress and performance live, at any moment. They can view which units, lessons, and activities are driving student outcomes, and view overall student progress in all subjects. 

This helps administrators make timely and data-informed resource allocation decisions, from the contents of professional development sessions to the purchasing of curriculum or intervention materials. Administrators can finally measure the impact curriculum makes from design, delivery, and assessment, across classrooms and schools, in real-time. That’s a game-changer, folks. 

 

 

Using Academy, you can easily add a new course to share with teachers.

Getting Started

 

Administrators can add units, standards, and other details, then click into any teacher’s curriculum to view what resources teachers have added into their Planner.

Build and Share Curriculum

 

Teachers can access and use the curriculum designed in Academy, simply dragging resources from Planner and dropping them into a a student’s Timeline.

Implement, Teach, & Assess

 

Administrators using Academy have views to track classroom data, like student achievement (shown to right), as well as engagement, and teacher and student dashboards. Read more here.

Measure Implementation and Impact

Review, Reflect, and Adjust Course

Responsive Curriculum Management on Kiddom Academy effectively bridges the gap between curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Calibrate on academic expectations and take action on classroom data to make sure teachers have everything they need for a successful school year.

While classes are in session, make informed decisions to support student learning in a timely manner. After the classes are done, you’ll finally have everything you need, all in one place to review, reflect, and adjust course for next time.

Curriculum is a Roadmap

Curriculum design is fundamentally emotional work, representing the journey educators plan for students to make meaningful connections with concepts. How curriculum is implemented in the classroom is a significant predictor of student achievement gains. Now that Responsive Curriculum Management is available, we’re excited to learn how administrators will use it to support the work happening in classrooms.

Ready to align curriculum, instruction, and assessment? Learn more by completing this inquiry form. We’d love to support you in this work.

Kiddom Academy picks up where the LMS leaves off, offering an operating system for K-12 schools and districts to measure and act on classroom intelligence. We define a K-12 operating system as a set of interconnected tools to enable schools to operate more productively, increase student outcomes, and improve upon their respective instructional models.

What People Are Saying

“Kiddom is great for assessing data and then assigning appropriate work based on individual student performance. I love that it’s very easy to attach standards and rubric to every assignment.”

Jackie Curts, Middle School Teacher

“Using Kiddom has made me stop and ask ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know or am I really challenging them?’”

Ann Leghorn, High School Literacy Specialist

“I can see where my class and any student is at any moment in their educational journey. This way I can take action to assist them to work towards mastery.”

Mr. Albrecht, High School Teacher

You might also be interested in these articles:

Principal Rodney Ivey: The Teacher Enabler

Principal Rodney Ivey: The Teacher Enabler

Principal Rodney Ivey

Principal Rodney Ivey

The Teacher Enabler, Star School Leader Recipient

We spoke to Principal Rodney Ivey about how to make sure every teacher feels supported. This is the first spotlight in a series of twelve, in which we feature the winning recipients of Kiddom’s annual Star School Leader Award. Look for the others over the coming months by signing up for our newsletter, or check out our School Leadership page, which we will update with each new spotlight.

 

The Makings of a Star School Leader

Growing up as the son of a teacher, Mr. Ivey has always been in the realm of education. From 1977 to just two years ago, his father taught at the elementary school where Rodney himself attended. This gave Rodney an early view of the ins and outs of the career, seeing his father’s passion and excitement especially built around educating students in the environmental sciences. Though his father taught all subjects as a fifth grade teacher, he created a nature trail and organized fun field trips, even inviting other schools in on the festivities.

Getting such a great behind-the-scenes view as the teacher’s kid, it’s no surprise that Principal Ivey would develop a passion of his own for education. Although he did lean toward the medical field in college, even starting with premed in Health Sciences in his early years at University of North Florida, half-way through he made a switch towards education — and hasn’t looked back since. 

He started out teaching Earth and Space Sciences (Honors) for Junior High and Eighth Grade, teaching about five classes of around 20 kids. About four years later he moved into physical education, where his class sizes grew to 40 kids, five times a day. Shortly after that, he was an athletic director where he headed programs of 5-600 students, including the intramural program that was developed at the time.

He soon found himself moving into the administration level, moving to become vice principal at a neighboring school in Clay County before obtaining his current principalship at Swimming Pen Creek Elementary School, where it has been, in his own words, “A-mazing. I’ve loved it… I love watching the progression of kids, from four years old, all the way up until they graduate and move on as sixth graders to the next school. It’s been a lot of fun.”

His frequent walks through our classrooms are welcomed, as he joins in our lessons alongside students; we love it when he photographs engaging lessons and shares them out with the staff. Under his leadership, our campus is a very happy inclusive place, with a supportive family-like atmosphere that encompasses parents, kids, teachers, and staff.

— Janet Shaw, Teacher at Swimming Pen Creek Elementary

What does Mr. Ivey enjoy the most about being Principal?

Unfortunately, he admits, it’s been a bit of a catch-22. When he started as a teacher, he had 20 kids at any given time that he could work with one-on-one. But as he progressed through his career, he was promoted to head larger and larger populations and began to miss the smaller group setting. To that, he says:

I guess the bad thing is I don’t build as many of those personal, I try to build as many as I can, relationships with kids that you get as a teacher in the classroom. But you do have a larger and greater impact — in this case, you know, over 500 students — which has been certainly a blessing, and one that I take very seriously.

Let’s talk about servant leadership.

He does what needs to be done, even vacuuming my classroom when the custodians were busy on another project. His kind, accepting demeanor inspires students and teachers alike to be kind and considerate.

— Janet Shaw, Teacher at Swimming Pen Creek Elementary

After we mentioned the above quote to Mr. Rodney, he gave a big grin. To this quality, he attributes his time working at Wilkinson Junior High School. Under Dr. David McDonald, Mr. Ivey learned his most valuable lesson of leadership: servant leadership. “You know certainly we have the instructional leadership; that’s incredibly important,” he explains. “Then there’s operational leadership; but both of those have to come underneath a larger umbrella: Servant Leadership.” 

I fully believe that my job as an administrator is to make teachers’ jobs easier because they have the hardest jobs. You know, they’re dealing with all of these personalities, with all of these backgrounds these kids are coming from each and every day. Those family connections and building those relationships with parents (are important) and so my job as administrator is to knock down every possible barrier that might get into this teacher’s ways of being the most effective for kids. And that means whatever that means, if it means helping them get their classroom ready.

— Principal Rodney Ivey

Recently, Mr. Ivey’s school opened a new program. They had some some neighboring schools opening up offering Student Choice, so they wanted to offer Choice at his school as well. But to do so, he had to get innovative. After meeting with district leadership, a School Choice program was created within Swimming Pen Creek Elementary. The school still has a traditional pathway for students, but have now also opened a Montessori program this year in four classrooms. They plan to open it to two more next year, then to a total of eight as they build it all the way out. About a third of the student population at Swimming Pen Creek can choose to make that choice. And they also bring in about 25 percent of that population in from other schools.

During this time, they were getting materials up into the minute before school started, and as more classroom materials coming in, there were many chores to tackle — unpacking boxes, organizing, and getting the new classrooms ready. Mr. Ivey saw this as an important moment to take the extra stress off of teachers, as they were focusing on getting ready for the kids. “I’ll take whatever role — you know, I’m not too far removed from being in that position. And I remember the stress and and how hard it is. I’ll do whatever I can to help a teacher get ready.”

 

Mr. Ivey finds ways to boost students and staff, from a shout out bulletin board to eating lunch with children. He squeezes every penny out of a tight budget to gets his teachers what they need, even planning and manning fundraisers to accomplish his goals. While most of us stay late planning and preparing, many times, his car is the last in the parking lot.

— Janet Shaw, Teacher at Swimming Pen Creek Elementary

What makes Mr. Ivey the most proud of Swimming Pen Creek?

“I’m very proud of our teachers’ and students’ growth over the last three years,” says Mr. Ivey. He adds that when he first came into the position he had very big shoes to fill, with a “great, great principal who was here before, who took a different position in another county.”

There was a bit of turnover during the transition, between new hires and retirements. Naturally, this created a mix of inexperienced new educators and accomplished teachers who had been around since the school opened 15 years ago — but there was also a mix of children coming from very different households. It was clear to Mr. Ivey that the population could present some challenges.

To top that, when he arrived the school was a “C” school — “I don’t think that’s a really good representation, but that’s how Florida labels it,” Mr. Ivey shares. But despite all odds, Swimming Pen has been able to move the label to a high “B”, with highly achievable targets on an “A” this year.

“I’m excited to see the growth, whether it be the interpersonal relationships that the teachers have built with each other, or the introduction of significantly more parent involvement than we had when I got here,” says Mr. Ivey.

Before Mr. Ivey became principal, Swimming Pen Creek didn’t have a PFA — nor did they have the quarterly events that are playing a huge role in getting parents involved on campus. “I’m very, very proud to see that movement and that change and growth, not only happening in the classrooms, but around the whole campus over the last three years,” he says.

Mr. Ivey’s positive leadership and vision for doing what is in the best interests of our children sets the tone for all of our faculty and staff to be positive, enthusiastic, and productive . He sees the best in people, therefore young and old rise to his expectations. Rather than micromanage, he works collaboratively with his staff to plan programs and events. He collects data for us, looking for trends and meeting with us on teams to focus on ways to help individual students. 

— Janet Shaw, Teacher at Swimming Pen Creek Elementary

What does Mr. Ivey believe technology’s role should be in the classroom?

The question has come up in a study Mr. Ivey did recently with the Montessori program. “You know, when Dr. Montessori was developing, I figure there wasn’t much technology. So we had to kind of build a schema for what that would look like — what would she have done?” he shares, with a laugh. 

Principal Ivey thinks it’s vitally important to use every tool that’s available to make the educational experience more meaningful, “and certainly more poignant to what the student needs in order to be successful, as they leave elementary school and go into junior high and high school, and out into the world.”

You know we’re preparing kids right now — it’s kind of crazy to think about — for jobs that aren’t even invented yet. They’re going to be asked to do things, to enter careers that haven’t even been thought of yet. And so the innovation and the creativity that our teachers need to build into these students to help them be successful… It can’t be the same way it’s been in the past. They need to understand how to use technology, they need to know how to interact with it.

— Principal Rodney Ivey

Principal Ivey acknowledges the fact that technology has shifted the importance of skills we’re learning in today’s schools, such as the memorization of certain acts and places. “I still think there’s an important role to play that isn’t the end-all, be-all in education like it was, even when I went through school. You know, memorize the states and their capitals or you need to know all of these Russian czars …now you can look that up at the touch of a button,” he says. “How much further can we take a student’s education using the internet and technology?”

Mr. Ivey believes many doors are opened by technology. “It allows kids to get so much deeper into their learning to understand the whys and hows and how to prevents. And how to shape and mold, not only their future but the future of their communities.” He adds that technology also opens a lot of doors for those who can’t travel:

You know, we’re a lower socio-economic community. We certainly fundraise as much as we can, to go on trips. We have families whose kids have never seen the beach, and we live right here in Florida. Who have never seen snow, never seen the mountains. Even though it’s not the same as being there, they can experience a lot of this thanks to technology. So there are just so many ways to utilize technology and to make a full experience for a kid as they’re going through their education.

His advice for other administrators who seek to develop a similar school culture and system:

Mr. Ivey’s advice comes in three parts. Part one is around innovation. “I would say don’t be afraid to go out there and innovate, you know pilot different things, pilot different programs.”

Part two of Principal Ivey’s advice is simple: listen to your teachers. “They’re on the front lines. Your teachers are in the classroom with these kids. You know, we don’t see everything, we can’t know everything, we can’t hear everything. Your teachers know well what things your kids need. And so listen to your teachers, provide as many opportunities as you can, and then learn it along side of them.”

The third bit of his advice is about where great change starts. He believes a movement can’t simply come simply from the top-down, but has to come from the bottom-up, too.

It can’t be something that you do to a school. You’ve got to be a part of it. There has to be buy-in, and that buy-in comes from you sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with your teachers, learning the process, going through the implementation, sitting with the kids while they go through the implementation, hearing what the challenges are that they’re facing, what the challenges are that the teachers are facing, helping to bring people together to troubleshoot this problem solving. If you do that, you know you’re going to get so much more creativity, so much more dynamic change, because it’ll just grow on itself. Because everybody is going to get more and more passionate when they feel they have a voice, when they feel they’re being listened to and that their input is driving some of the decision making.

— Principal Rodney Ivey

 

Recap: What Makes a Star School Leader?

Great school leaders empower their teachers. What teachers do is one of the most difficult, and often thankless jobs. And while we all agree that teachers are the true heroes of every school system, it takes a special kind of leader to enable their teachers with the right support to focus on the important things. Like teaching.

The Star School Leader rubric stands on three pillars, hanging from one common theme:

  1.  Empowering others by setting a positive attitude, culture, and environment.
  2.  Empowering others with the right use of technology as a means and not an end. 
  3.  Empowering others through supportive coaching and access to professional development. 

To read about the rest of the Star School Leaders, visit our recipient announcement page.

 

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Academy’s New Curriculum Development Tool is a Game Changer — Part 1 of 3

Academy’s New Curriculum Development Tool is a Game Changer — Part 1 of 3

Melissa Giroux

Melissa Giroux

School Success Lead, Kiddom

Committed to providing contextualized support and professional development to schools using the platform to drive student achievement and support teacher learning. Her passions include women's history and literature, vintage fashion, cats, and she hopes to stamp all 195 countries on the globe in her passport someday.

Last month, we released our newest product for schools and districts, a Responsive Curriculum Management tool that allows for collaborative, aligned curriculum development as well as access to achievement data in order to refine and improve the curriculum.

As the Kiddom design and product teams showed the school success team what these tools would look like and how they would function, I felt a pang of nostalgia and jealousy for the teacher teams and curriculum developers that would get to work their magic with these features.

You can view the other articles in this series as posted here:

Also related: Introducing Responsive Curriculum Management

Looking Back

I began my career in education as a high school special education teacher in 2009, and while we had some access to technology in the classroom, it was limited.

Primarily, we used our school Outlook accounts to share attachments via email. That was the way my co-teachers and I worked on unit plans and lesson materials; one of us would create a Word document with a scope and sequence or a weekly outline, mark where the other person was meant to fill in, and then we’d email updates back and forth.

It was messy, inefficient, and forced us to meet at coffee shops on weekends if we wanted to authentically collaborate.

We struggled to make the experience easy for all of the teachers on our team, and often found ourselves digging for hours through our Google Drive folders to find dated curriculum docs that matched the standards we were teaching.

A few years later, our school switched from Microsoft to Google and we started to use Google Docs for curriculum development and storage. Sure, now we didn’t have to rename and track each new version of a document that came our way, but there were still issues.

This was what the first step of scope and sequence mapping looked like in an 8-person English Language Arts team:

screenshot of how inefficient even Google Docs can be to collaborate on lesson plans

It was hard to process or look for alignment, too overwhelming to share with students or families, and isolated from the actual materials and resources we would be providing students.

We struggled to make the experience easy for all of the teachers on our team, and often found ourselves digging for hours through our Google Drive folders to find dated curriculum docs that matched the standards we were teaching. It’s unsurprising to me that in an MDR Market Report from 2017, teachers reported spending 12 hours a week searching for or creating curricular materials.

So when I first got to play with our new responsive curriculum management tools, I was ecstatic, and wanted to dig in deeper.

Comparison of how difficult curriculum planning was then vs how easy now with Kiddom

We decided to launch an internal curriculum development team in order to test the product, provide feedback to our teams for future versions of the product, and develop creative and authentic professional development materials for our users.

Our curriculum development team was comprised of a product manager, customer support specialists, product success managers, and was facilitated by me, the School Success Lead. My role is primarily to ensure that all schools and districts using Kiddom have the tools and training they need to effectively use the platform, so this project will be an important piece of my work this year.

…it was like being back in a curriculum planning professional development session, only better.

The first session launched this week, and it was like being back in a curriculum planning professional development session, only better. The first time around, we built curriculum focused on core literacy skills, imagining we’d be developing reading intervention curriculum for middle school students reading below grade level.

Role-playing as an English department lead (a real role I held once upon a time), I imported custom literacy standards developed based on the Common Core’s foundational reading skills and research around the seven habits of highly effective readers. I set unit descriptions, estimated instructional days, and provided my team of “teachers” with suggested resources from our Content Library and texts I’d used in the past.

Here you see a view of the units in Academy, our product for administrators.

Over the course of 90 minutes, five “teachers” (Kiddom team members spanning our Support, Success, and Product teams) added resources in the themed and leveled learning Playlists to the shared units in Planner. We then discussed what resources or assessments we would need to seek or build, and shared ideas about what could make the process even more seamlessly collaborative.

Here you see a view of the units in Planner, a feature in Kiddom Collaborative Classroom, our free app for teachers.

Here’s what we learned:

Click the image to visit our new On-Demand PD Portal

1. The School Success team learned that teachers need a clear set of guidelines and exemplar resources to confidently and successfully collaborate on curriculum, so we’re going to add a workshop about this in our On-Demand PD portal.

2. The Product team will investigate ways to support teachers in the process of developing curriculum that mirrors design thinking principles. This often starts with gathering a lot of possible resources (divergent thinking – think of all those tabs you open after a Google search for worksheets) and later narrowing down to the best idea (convergent thinking – choosing that perfect worksheet you link to your lesson plan before you go to bed on Sunday night).

3. The Customer Support team will be preparing to launch new tips and tricks on our help desk now that they understand the new platform inside and out — so they’re equipped to get to our users’ questions quickly during busy school days.

What’s next?

We recorded the session for our own internal use, and have listened back to the session to refine our processes. From it, we hope that engineers and product designers can learn what kinds of issues users experience when trying new software, our support team can better anticipate questions from our customers, and our school success managers can create protocols and training materials for our Academy teams.

We hope that as an ed tech team, participating in a type of professional learning community will make us more attuned to the needs of educators, more creative in how we support them, and quicker to adapt our platforms to the needs of the classroom.

You can view the other articles in this series as posted here:

Also related: Introducing Responsive Curriculum Management

To learn more about our new responsive curriculum feature, visit this page. To see a demo of this exciting new feature, book a call today.

Kiddom Academy picks up where the LMS leaves off, offering an operating system for K-12 schools and districts to measure and act on classroom intelligence. We define a K-12 operating system as a set of interconnected tools to enable schools to operate more productively, increase student outcomes, and improve upon their respective instructional models.

What People Are Saying

“Kiddom is great for assessing data and then assigning appropriate work based on individual student performance. I love that it’s very easy to attach standards and rubric to every assignment.”

Jackie Curts, Middle School Teacher

“Using Kiddom has made me stop and ask ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know or am I really challenging them?’”

Ann Leghorn, High School Literacy Specialist

“I can see where my class and any student is at any moment in their educational journey. This way I can take action to assist them to work towards mastery.”

Mr. Albrecht, High School Teacher

You might also be interested in these articles:

Curriculum is Culture

Responding to a recent shift from curriculum analysis to culture change, author Geoffrey Schmidt argues that the two cannot be separated.

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