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Nicole Plante

Nicole Plante

Support Specialist, Kiddom

Nicole Plante is a former middle and high school ELA teacher who received her B.A. in English (U.C. Berkeley), M.A. in English Education (CUNY-Brooklyn) and B.A. in Web Design & New Media (Art Academy, SF). At Kiddom, she is a Support Specialist who uses her experience and skills to support a diverse range of educators and students.

Take a moment to remember how middle school felt. Really dig into those golden awkward moments, mounting responsibilities, and feelings of uncertainty. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about others?

Often, academic progress rests on social-emotional skills that students may or may not have developed. This has many educators asking themselves: “Are we addressing all the needs of the child if we do not include social-emotional learning?” As a result, many schools have begun to integrate social-emotional competencies as essential traits to prepare students for college, careers, and citizenship.

How can we expect a student to learn if they’re emotionally in turmoil? How can we do more to ensure our students are becoming responsible and empathetic members of society?

I’ve had the chance to see this initiative in action, from teaching at a suspension site in Brooklyn, New York to a K-8 Catholic school in California. In my experience, I learned that the social-emotional well-being of a student is often the basis of their achievement (or lack thereof). How can we expect a student to learn if they’re emotionally in turmoil? How can we do more to ensure our students are becoming responsible and empathetic members of society?

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

Also related: Introducing Responsive Curriculum Management

Looking Back

Teaching the whole child was a part of my Catholic school’s mission. In order to convey the desired outcomes of our graduates, we created Student Learning Expectations (SLEs) that encapsulated the academic, social, emotional, and spiritual objectives of our graduates. This lent insight on the essential question: What do we want a graduate of our school to embody? However, how to gather and assess student progress for those learning objectives was often an afterthought.

In order to understand what administrators and teachers might find useful with our new tool, Responsive Curriculum Management, we organized sessions with a motley crew of Kiddom employees to experience something that may be unfamiliar to non-teachers: the process of planning and collaborating on curricula.

Track Standards section of Responsive Curriculum Management Dashboard

I highly recommend for you to check out Melissa’s blog article, the first of our series, if you’re interested in learning about the purpose, set up and learnings from our first planning cycle.

For my session, I wanted to represent a challenge we had at my former school: How might we authentically gather evidence to track student progress for SEL objectives?

So I put my administrator hat on and thought about the challenges to initiate SEL curriculum.

Our Objective

I first set the context for empathy: We are a group of middle school teachers interested in creating a Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum for our students.

Our objective as a curriculum team was to find a management system that would help us align to CASEL competencies and gather evidence to assess students.

When developing curriculum as a team, there can often be too much structure, which limits teacher creativity — or too little, which affects school alignment.

Setting a Vision and Purpose

Like many teachers, I was taught to begin with the end in mind. What did I want our school to achieve? How could we use the data to inform intervention or opportunities for social-emotional development?

When implementing an initiative, I realized how essential it was to do some deep thinking about our school mission beforehand. This helped set our purpose so I could energize my team and align a new tool with our objective.

Admin view of Kiddom Academy Build Curriculum dashboard

Solutions for Measurement

As an administrator, I created a basic SEL curriculum aligned to CASEL standards. While I would normally like to have a team of teachers come up with common measurement and language, I provided a method to have consistent rubrics for evaluation by creating a structured rubric and self-assessment document that could be adapted for different standards.

I wanted to provide a common language but have teachers rephrase it for their students — which would ultimately enable greater student ownership. As a result, the standards were rephrased by the teachers to be appropriate for student self-reflection and linked to a 3 point rubric.

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

screenshot of unit in Academy by Kiddom for administrators

 

Learnings

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

At the end of our session, I knew this was just the beginning. Really the greatest work would be making the venture authentic and useful: How might the curriculum be integrated into students’ daily lives? How might we use evidence for intervention or support?

Taking my administrator hat off, my key learnings as a Kiddom employee was less daunting, yet humbling:

1. In order to give purpose to our process and tool, I needed to have a sense of where my teachers were, in terms of attitude and readiness. I took the time to think like a teacher to set them up for success.

2. When developing curriculum as a team, there can often be too much structure, which limits teacher creativity — or too little, which affects school alignment.Frameworks for organizing, planning, and measuring curricula may limit or liberate innovation — so it’s important to focus on the areas that are important to your objectives.

3. I modeled to the teachers how to use the curriculum management tool: How can we provide the supports to make it easy for educators to understand how Academy and Classroom work together?

4. Empathy is not reserved for middle school students. Incorporating empathetic design processes at Kiddom is essential for making products and resources that can solve the same problems I faced as an educator.

I took my own advice and got creative. Check out the resources below to see the fruit of my learnings in order to (hopefully) make your life easier with curriculum planning.

 

Questions to Guide Curriculum Planning: Use our guiding questions to facilitate discussion, establish norms, and include the community when developing objectives.

Curriculum Planning Templates: If you’re like me, you may need to get your unit planned out first before inputting it into our curriculum management tool.

Lesson Plan Template for Diverse Needs: Plan in advance for the resources and supports needed for personalized learning.

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

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 seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in a centralized hub. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

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.