I’ve recently been hearing so much about turning the curriculum into ‘kids speak.’ In another words, showing the children what’s expected from them in their curriculum from the get go! This is probably the biggest revolution in eduation that I’ve heard since I’ve started teaching. It just makes so much sense. What exactly is the point of hiding the curriculum standards and expectations from children? How are we supposed to expect them to achieve success when they don’t even know what it is their supposed to achieve by the end of a school semester or year?
It’s logical to allow children to see and understand exaclty what they’re expected to achieve. Isn’t it? They should have the opportunity to question and analyse curriculum documents just like teachers do. At the end of the day it’s about them. Right?
I’ve had the opportunity to experiment with this concept. My first attempt was last year with my grade 5 students. I had the idea when I was having a conversation with my students about the kinds of things teachers report on when they write school reports. In this disucussion, I promised my students I’d never keep any secrets from them about what would be expecteded from them in order to achieve success. After such an open discussion, I realised behaviour towards learning began to change. The kids became so much more aware of what they expected from themselves. All because I was explicit about the way reporting worked. Who would have thought?
Not long after, I asked my students, “Have you ever seen the Australian Curriculum? Do you know what’s in it?” Obviously their answer was a loud and clear, “No.” It was then that I realised how ridiculous it was for educators to think that children could perform at full potential without having clear expectations about what was expected from them in a full school year.
So I tried it. I reworded the Maths curriculum (Grade 5 only) and generated rubrics with the kids. We broke down each Mathematical area and ensured that everyone understood each strand. From this, we decided to try it out. Children were required to carry out a Maths project through Inquiry based learning. It was fantastic. Every student had clear expectations and knew exactly what they needed to do in order to achieve success. The rurbics allowed them to self assess and peer assess. There were no secrets. That’s it. They were completely engaged. They all based their projects on their own personal areas of interest. They were able to collaborate, research and understand how Mathematics is everywhere. It really worked.
Here are just some of the benifits:
- children quickly identify strengths and weaknesess
- no secrets
- assess their own learning
- expectations are clear
- they can set goals
- can be used as success criteria
- forces them to provide evidence of their learning
I’ve shared the document I used with my kids on the link below. Please feel free to use it. I hope to do this with other areas of the curriculum in the future.