Getting Started: Change Processes
Like in most other schools, our curriculum was written in terms of specific instructional objectives which list what students need to know. A concept-based curriculum, however, articulates what students need to know, do and understand (Erickson, 2006; Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). This required shifts in curriculum design and pedagogy. To facilitate this transition, RGS focused on three change processes: redesign curriculum documents, develop capacities and review practices.
Redesign Curriculum Documents
From Lesson Planning to Unit Planning In keeping with the logic of the UbD
framework, the notion of a lesson plan was amended to that of a unit plan. A lesson plan only captures a slice of the overall learning outcomes for that unit—it tends to focus on the lesson objectives and activities for just one lesson within a larger unit. A unit plan records the enduring understandings, the Evidence of Learning, i.e., the assessments and the corresponding lesson activities for the entire unit or topic, which extends beyond one lesson. Thus, a change to a unit plan enables teachers to plan the learning more holistically, showing the alignment between the understandings, assessments and learning activities across several lessons in the entire unit/topic.
Accordingly, we crafted a unit plan template based on the UbD framework, reflecting the three stages. This was a significant move away from the traditional mode of stating only the lesson objectives to one that articulates what students will do and understand in terms of the overarching concepts. The template also requires that the planned assessments are explicitly stated together with the classroom activities that align with them.