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

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

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.

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:

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 2016, 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.

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 look forward to more updates from our Curriculum Development team as part of this blog series.

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

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