“Usually we just find the right answer in a book. For this, we had to think.”
Would you be excited to hear your students say things like that—and see improved achievement at the same time?
Summer is a time for a much-needed break. But it’s also a time to reflect on what’s working in your district and consider fresh ideas to improve equity, achievement, and teacher effectiveness. Are you wondering what could be possible within your existing budget?
One strategy is to reframe your units and courses using project-based learning rooted in community issues. Here’s how one district approached it:
River Rouge School District is located in an urban, economically depressed area. When it came to CCES for help, it was dealing with stagnant test scores, discouraged families leaving the district, and a large majority of students experiencing poverty and racial isolation. Rather than teaching to the test, River Rouge turned to Creative Change redefine learning by reframing the existing K-8 curriculum around students’ lives and communities.
River Rouge knew the curriculum makeover needed to be about something that mattered. That’s why they focused on an important community issue: nutrition and access to healthy food. As a local issue, food was the perfect way to inspire learning and involve students in developing real solutions. Project-based learning was designed to connect community health, academic standards, and civic engagement.
Over the course of 18 months, teachers become instructional leaders through professional development and ongoing support. Working at their side, we helped teachers make connections among food, culture, economics, and biology. This sparked fresh content to drive units and real-world projects, ranging from community surveys to a school garden. Teachers learned a collaborate process to redesign their units and assessments, supported by model units in our Curriculum and Resource Center.
Did it work? Pre- and post-tests showed improvements as high as 47%. More important, students and teachers were excited about the changes. Download the full case study here.
When teachers are supported to create interdisciplinary, project-based units, everyone wins. Students benefit from more rigorous learning, and teachers unleash their creativity to better support their students.
Schools are saddled with demanding mandates on inadequate budgets, but adapting your curriculum is a solution that’s in your reach (and fundable with Title I and II resources). Improving your curriculum starts with identifying your strengths and then taking it further—without the need for expensive technology or a crazed search for the shiniest “innovation.”
Creative Change provides expert support for districts going through the intensive process of a curriculum makeover. Summer will be over before you know it. As you get some well-deserved rest, don’t get too comfortable—with your curriculum. Get in touch with CCES today for a free consultation.