When schools closed this spring, most instruction pivoted to an online format with a focus on reviewing previously covered curriculum. Although some new instruction occurred during remote learning, about one-fourth of grade-level and content standards went unaddressed. Learn how schools and districts can adapt their curriculum to scaffold prerequisite skills in new instruction.
Realign Instruction Through an Adapted Curriculum
Although schools and districts may feel pressure to quickly recover ground lost during spring closures, using the first quarter of the new year to teach a lost quarter will not benefit students. Instead, school and district-level collaborative teams should analyze current grade-level and content standards to determine which skills were not covered in 2019-20 that students will need to have when new instruction begins.
SREB offers five actions schools and districts can take to help teachers identify and embed prerequisite skills into new instruction and help students recover lost learning while mastering new content and skills.
1. Gather a team to identify content and skills not addressed in the 2019-20 curriculum.
Before the new year begins, schools and districts should convene teams to analyze the 2019-20 curriculum and identify the prerequisite skills needed for success in the next grade level.
- Convene school and/or district-level collaborative teams consisting of teacher leaders, content specialists and instructional coaches. Also invite chief academic officers, regional education service agency content specialists and special education advocates.
- Charge teams with documenting all content taught before spring school closures and during the period of online learning as well as any content not taught during online learning. Give teams adequate time to collaborate this summer and during regular contractual days after school begins. Consider asking questions like these when convening teams:
- How will teacher workdays or professional development hours be used to support this work?
- How will teams complete this work virtually and/or in-person?
- How will team leads be identified to guide grade-level or content work within schools?
- How will teams share the results of their work with schools?
- How can teams promote vertical alignment of content and standards across grades?
2. Update existing curriculum resources to highlight needed adjustments.
- Ask collaborative teams to review a broad range of documents to identify the taught and untaught content, prerequisite skills and standards that must be covered in 2020-21, including learning progressions, pacing guides, lesson plans and state academic standards.
- Ask collaborative teams to consider how to help educators recognize the skills students need to learn new content, identify how content builds from year to year, and determine when and where to embed and scaffold prerequisite skills in new instruction. Consider using a curriculum content analysis table to structure these discussions.
2019-20 Curriculum Content Analysis
|Taught Prior to the Extended Remote Learning||Only Taught During Extended Remote Learning||In the 2019-20 Curriculum But Not Taught During the 2019-20 School Year|
Kentucky’s academic re-entry document and related webinars offer guidance on how educators can plan and create an adjusted curriculum that addresses learning gaps from the spring.
3. Align the prerequisite skills needed for success with new content.
After determining how content builds from year to year and identifying where and when to embed and scaffold prerequisite skills in new instruction, collaborative teams should categorize the interventions and supports students will need to gain prerequisite skills.
- Ask teams to analyze and discuss all diagnostic assessments administered at the beginning of the school year. Such assessments help educators identify learning gaps as well as whether students have actually mastered prerequisite skills despite not receiving instruction on some standards in the previous year. Gather evidence on questions like these:
- Are we using assessment results to identify students who need extra time and support?
- Are we using assessment results to accelerate learning for highly proficient students?
- Are we using assessment results to identify strengths and weaknesses in our teaching?
4. Promote across-grade-level collaboration to develop an adapted curriculum.
- Ask collaborative teams to communicate findings and seek input from content and grade-level teachers one grade level or content course above and below each grade before developing an adapted curriculum for the new year. Discussions should focus on identifying prerequisite skills, selecting diagnostic assessments and vertically aligning content and standards to address identified grade-level gaps.
- Use cross grade-level teacher discussions to inform the curriculum adaptations teachers make to learning progressions. Charge professional learning communities with using updated learning progressions to develop curriculum and instructional designs that allow teachers to deliver new content and support students who are missing prerequisite skills.
- Determine what students will learn and how students will learn it given the school calendars and schedules adopted by state and district education agencies. Teachers should be prepared to deliver the adapted curriculum in in-person, online, blended and hybrid settings. As discussed in the Online, Blended and Hybrid Instruction play, districts and schools need to make learning new content the norm and set and share expectations for learning with students, parents and the school community.
The Oklahoma Department of Education is investing a portion of state ESSER funds to offer Edmentum’s Exact Path free to districts. Schools can use Exact Path to set and achieve academic growth goals for K-12 students this summer and throughout the 2020-21 school year. Exact Path combines adaptive diagnostics with individualized instruction and learning pathways to promote growth in math, reading and language arts. Teachers gain information on student learning that can guide discussions across content and grade levels.
Arkansas’s Ready to Learn document includes rubrics that provide guidance to teams working on discerning the content and skills needed to succeed in new learning.
5. Review and modify protocols for monitoring and adapting the curriculum.
As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, the 2020-21 school year may include additional closures and shifts between in-person and online instruction. Multiple curriculum adaptations may be needed.
- Start the school year with a calendar that indicates when and how the adapted curriculum will be implemented, reviewed and adjusted. School and district leaders and collaborative teams should consider these questions:
- How will we continue to adapt the curriculum throughout the 2020-21 school year?
- How will we monitor the curriculum to ensure adaptations are used?
Sample Curriculum Update Calendar
|July 10, 2020||Identify members of the collaborative team||Chief Academic Officer|
|July 15-31, 2020||Collaborative team work||Collaborative Team Leads|
|August 3-12, 2020||Communicate across grade levels and adapt curriculum||Teacher Leaders and Professional Learning Communities|
|August 14, 2020||Disseminate review calendar||Chief Academic Officer or Collaborative Team Leads|
|August 26, 2020||First day of school: Evaluate learning gaps||Teachers|
|September 8, 2020||Begin to implement adapted curriculum||Teachers|
|September – November 2020||Bi-weekly review of adapted curriculum||Teachers, Professional Learning Communities, School Leaders, Content Specialists|
|November – December 2020||Take stock of protocols and make needed adaptions||Teacher Leaders, School Leaders, Content Specialists|