As teachers, we are only as effective as how we plan and how we respect our students. My fundamental belief is that the best way we can respect our students is to prepare a curriculum that honors students’ time by challenging them, provides students the opportunity to have fun, and keeps students’ growth as the primary target.
The first step I take when I teach a course is to research the expectations of a course, as well as what resources might be used. When mapping out the possible resources for a course, I find it most useful to look at what the school, district, and textbook publisher suggests for each unit of study. The intersections of the resource recommendations can serve as a useful menu for all the members of a department. From that point, I love to get specific and pick the very best texts, videos, and resources for student engagement and academic rigor. This requires an extra layer of planning resources in detailed unit maps.
Department Reading List
In 2016, I also undertook the task to create a resource menu of all the books that were available to the Middle School's Language Arts department. The first step was to research all the book lists from years past and determine what resources existed physically and what resources were only written. The second step was to research what each grade level taught as a whole class text, small group text, or independent reading so we could vertically align our resources. Then, I determined genres, researched Lexiles, and wrote summaries for each book so we could all have a good idea of which books were good fits for our students. The result was creating a comprehensive department reading list.
In 2017, I presented ideas for the next year's Humanities course. My goal was to create some guiding documents for designing an approach to blending the content of Language Arts and Social Studies into a cohesive Middle Grade Humanities experience for the students that made learning World History attainable and fun.
In the digital world, we often lose track of files, documents, and internet links. In 2016, When I joined the Social Studies department at Ruamrudee, I started a project to create a menu of all our Social Studies digital resources. They were scattered in various places, so my goal was to create a central document where we could find any resource with only a click or two. Below is the Table of Contents for the different sections of the Resource Menu, which wound up being a whopping 84 pages! There are plenty of other topics to include in this menu, so hopefully, it will continue to grow to also list physical resources, including class sets of high-interest history books. This work has led me to developing a much larger and more ambitious version as an ongoing passion project.