Half of the battle of creating your own curriculum is determining what priority/essential/core/common standards you want to include. Teachers literally spend years of their lives writing then revising, writing then revising, writing then revising curriculum.
Because state standards often include lists of 50+ standards for content areas (not including literacy standards) it's easy for teachers to turn to the their textbooks or choice topics rather than facing the overwhelm of the standards list.
The majority of the schools I support are in Indiana, and I myself was a teacher and administrator in Indiana, so I often reference the Indiana State Standards and Indiana's accountability measures when trying to narrow the "What should we actually teach?" list.
Indiana provides blueprints that help teachers correlate the potential weights of certain skills or standards on state accountability tests, namely ILEARN.
Every few years, it seems the test changes, the standards change, and the blueprints change once again. This means that teachers have to spend their time re-looking at the standards, blueprints, and test to answer the question: What should we actually teach?"
To try to save you some time, I've created a 6th grade, 7th grade, and 8th grade ELA one-pagers that include the highest (and middle) priority standards. Think of these as the old "check plus and check" standards (if you know that reference).
You'll notice that this is specific to Indiana, but this idea or template could be replicated by teams using any variety of standards that align to various standardized tests. The key is that teachers review the correlations and they create simple, easy to read (and then use!) guides that can help them quickly see the top skills to cycle through with their students.
What other ways have you found to organize priority standards within your teams? What other tools and tips can you share?
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