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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:

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

You might also be interested in these articles:

How Marshall County Differentiates Instruction with Kiddom (Watch Mini-Documentary Here)

How Marshall County Differentiates Instruction with Kiddom (Watch Mini-Documentary Here)

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. 

Three years ago, the Marshall County Department of Education in Benton, Kentucky abandoned their traditional curriculum and instructional model in favor of individualized, project-based models to offer students more choice and voice.

A change of this magnitude not only requires new furniture, new hardware, teacher training, and community buy-in, but also software to develop a new set of criteria to measure academic success.

Watch “How Marshall County Individualizes Instruction Mini-Documentary” here:

Marshall County decided to trust Kiddom’s K-12 operating system as a centralized source of valuable data to measure student achievement and enable individualization. Since implementation, other districts are following Marshall County’s example as they rethink their own approach to teaching and learning. Since our first pilot with Marshall County, the district has expanded their use of Kiddom. 

It is so rewarding to see how schools and districts tailor Kiddom to fit their pedagogical models as they move towards individualization. The Kiddom team values Marshall County’s vision to use technology to help them transform their instructional practices and we are grateful for the opportunity to have made a difference in this community.

Is your school or district ready to follow Marshall County’s lead?

We’d love to support you in your journey. Book a demo with one of our education specialists below and we’ll be in touch soon.

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Nobody Puts Curriculum in a Corner

Nobody Puts Curriculum in a Corner

Day in the Life of a Teacher: Sunday

 

“We’ve blocked three days off leading up to the first day of school for curriculum and lesson planning. You’ve got time to plan ahead.”

When school leadership made this announcement in August during our staff training, I immediately felt overwhelmed and confused. I was a first year math teacher placed at a brand new, alternative high school serving at-risk youth in New York City. Despite my lack of experience, I was tasked with teaching Algebra 1, a course culminating in a standardized test all New York high school students must pass to graduate. I knew three days of planning wouldn’t be enough to design flexible curriculum that could empower every student to have an “aha!” moment every day. Unfortunately, the feeling that there’s never enough time to write and adjust curriculum is a major source of frustration and a bitter reality for teachers across the United States.

Because I taught at a competency-based (a.k.a. standards-based) school for at-risk youth, pre-packaged curriculum and assessments offered very little flexibility for personalization or modification. The content was prescriptive and standardized, which meant taking it apart to meet student needs sometimes took longer than just making it myself. Plus, the available content was designed around how much time I’d spend teaching it versus what I actually needed to get students adept at learning the topic at hand. With students on my roster performing at a range of grade levels from elementary to beyond high school, I decided against bundled curriculum and textbooks and instead committed to building an in-house curriculum tailored to mystudents’ needs.

If that sounds like a lot of work, it was. But writing curriculum wasn’t just labor-intensive, it was emotionally exhausting. I put my heart and soul into plotting the journey my students took with me. There are thousands of teachers doing this kind of work at any given moment. And while this practice might be best for students, it’s unsustainable given how many responsibilities teachers already juggle.

 

Curriculum planning sessions: where “the work” really gets done

 

Despite the immense amount of work involved, my colleagues and I fine-tuned our curriculum every year based on student skill gaps and results from formative assessments. We experimented with online curriculum products such as Rubicon and BetterLesson as well as adaptive learning programs such as Cognitive Tutor and Math180 to supplement our custom curriculum — but it was virtually impossible to get the kind of flexibility we wanted without sacrificing quality. To somewhat quote Darth Vader, I found the lack of quality edtech curriculum deeply disturbing. This was at odds with my experience, because I relied extensively on edtech for assessments. I taught in a school with high rates of chronic absenteeism, so it was vital students could demonstrate mastery without having to physically show up to class.

As I gained more experience teaching, I realized the most effective curriculum for students should provide a variety of options for assessment and instruction. Beyond a library of PowerPoint slides, my mathematics curriculum evolved into a patchwork of in-house and free online resources following a scope and sequence specifically tailored to meet my students’ needs. They could easily access a library of lessons and assessments I’d created from scratch, or use Khan Academy videos coupled with IXL exercises aligned to standards we were learning in class. It took a lot of time and effort to curate the best resources from the surplus of providers, but it was worth it; I learned a lot about my students and my students learned in a way most suitable for them.

Curriculum design is fundamentally emotional work, representing the journey educators plan for students to make meaningful connections with concepts.

At Kiddom, we understand the benefits of a homemade approach to curriculum, but we also recognize the incredible burden this practice can add to teachers’ lives. That’s why I’m proud to announce Kiddom’s Planner will soon be available. It’s a curriculum tool designed specifically to offer teachers the flexibility they need to meet the needs of 21st century students. With the Planner, teachers can design curriculum for a class and easily modify pathways for groups or individual students. The Planner will be integrated with the Kiddom platform, which means teachers can effectively plan, assess, and analyze learning from one place.

 

Kiddom’s Planner — design curriculum and modify pathways for individual students

 

Well-designed and differentiated curriculum affords teachers the opportunity to help students meaningfully connect with the subject matter and expand their skill sets. It must offer the flexibility to individualize learning in real-time based on student needs without inconveniencing teachers. Teachers can’t sustainably inspire students if they’re overburdened and inadequately equipped. My experience has taught me to believe that it is possible for technology to ease administrative burdens and increase the quality of interactions between teachers and students. If teachers can use technology to thoughtfully guide individual students through the learning process, then we can expect every student to learn what’s necessary their own way: to have their own “aha!” moment. And as teachers, we know those are the moments that really matter.

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”
— Carl Jung

Eight Resources for Designing Competency-Based Curriculum