Professional Learning

Video: 3 Tips for Designing a Rigorous K–12 Curriculum

2 Min Read
Larry Headshot 4C284B73B1B0834026B992B9Ac93D6Bd

How do you build a stellar—and rigorous—K–12 curriculum? To truly maximize student outcomes, teachers need to approach this task purposefully and deliberately in an organized fashion. 

To start, let’s define the phrase rigorous curriculum. As I outline in my book Rigorous Curriculum Design: How to Create Curricular Units of Study That Align Standards, Instruction, and Assessment, a curriculum categorized as such should include the following elements:

  • Clear learning outcomes and matching assessments
  • Learning experiences that engage students
  • Differentiated instructional strategies
  • Sequenced units of study

In the video below, you can learn more about the three main lessons I have learned about designing a rigorous curriculum throughout my career.

  1. Take the time to focus on the foundational pieces: Don’t breeze through the foundation of your curriculum—your Priority Standards—too quickly. Spend time really identifying and aligning those priorities from grade to grade and course to course. If you rush through the foundation, you will be building a super structure on a weak foundation.
  2. Start small, build slowly: Don’t take on too much too quickly. Proceed with designing your curriculum at a pace that’s doable for your system.
  3. Leaders must be involved and committed: It’s not enough for a leader to attend a workshop or conference and then step away from the design of the curriculum. Leaders need to have an ongoing “hands-on, minds-on” mentality with a focus on committing, not just learning.

Video: Lessons Learned Implementing Rigorous Curriculum Design

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.

***

You can book a keynote with ICLE Senior Fellow Larry Ainsworth to bring his expertise on rigorous curriculum design to your school or district.

Related Reading

WF1953215 Shaped 2024 Blog Post Benefits of Small Group Instruction2

Richard Blankman

Shaped Executive Editor

Superintendent of the Year Joe Gothard

Dr. Joe Gothard, the 2024 National Superintendent of the Year, speaks at a press conference in April introducing him as the new schools chief for the Madison Metropolitan School District in Wisconsin.

Brenda Iasevoli
Shaped Executive Editor

Belonging School Kentwood

Eighth graders enjoy a light moment in Alison Van Dyke's ELA class at Valleywood Middle School in Kentwood, Michigan.

Brenda Iasevoli
Shaped Executive Editor