1. Be sure to spend a few days familiarizing yourself with the standards before you begin your revisions. I completed one graduate course plus 4 days of PD on the standards in the six months before we began. Our teachers had two days of PD before beginning. If done right, the new standards require a slightly different mind set and a much more rigorous plan.
2. Each unit should blend a mixture of reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language standards. We decided to go with thematic units that culminate in projects. Some are full out Performance Tasks (student led, inquiry based projects), while others are scaled back to allow for time permitted. Teachers may use tests in addition to the projects, but we felt that with the new extended testing plus our own bench marks, any additional testing should be optional.
3. We focused our units on skills rather than content. Because of this, we have been very liberal with the choices of texts. As long as they are age appropriate and thematically linked, we added them. We also decided to stick with novels that our students could comprehend. I know the new exemplars are at a higher Lexile, but just giving a student a more difficult text won't make them a better reading. You will notice that we added short very high level texts (1,100-1,400 Lexile) for in class supported reading, and kept with the traditional novels for independent reading.
4. I know some of the districts in our county were planning to keep their curriculum and just plug the new standards in. We didn't think that would be the best idea. Our previous curriculum really only covered the standards once, and not as deeply as needed for students to really understand them all. In our new curriculum, we chose "power standards" that we repeat throughout the semester. Hopefully, repeating what we felt were the most important standards will result in greater learning for our students.
5. We also infused 21st Century skills wherever possible. Our units are technology rich and aimed at a greater understanding of the world. All students are required to keep an ePortfolio and blog. Global collaboration is included. Students will be submitting their work to published public sites and participating in global initiatives.
6. We plan on heavy revising. Our units certainly sounded great while we planned them, and everyone (well almost everyone) is excited about implementing them, but we know that we will have to make changes. Eventually, I'd like to start our own site for our Senior TED Talks and "I Believe" essays, along with other projects. Though we would still submit them to the sites, we could have a place where all of our students could share and comment on their peers work.
Want to see what we have done so far? Here is our curriculum, though it is not complete yet. We still have to work out some of the Objectives and Key Vocabulary.
We also have to add some checklists and rubrics. We would love some feedback!