Even though it feels like we have only just stared 2019 we have already started planning in earnest for 2020.
The most significant aspect of next year for us is introducing our Year 12 course or Senior 2 as we refer to the next stage of our curriculum delivery.
As we have the opportunity to examine how we deliver learning at each new stage that we enter our process for planning next years courses is a little different to the norm and, as a result, I thought it might be interesting to capture this process thus far.
Initially with any of put big planning processes we start with a form a brain dump, this being Stage 1.
Stage 1 Brain Dump.
Certain topics are banned from the initial course planning stages. the main ones being;
- Assessment. No discussion is allowed regarding assessments or which Standard to align to a particular course. This is to ensure that we are initially driven by learning and the needs of the learners. We need to prioritize learning outcomes in our courses not just assessment opportunities. If we don’t establish this as an early ground rule then we will resort to merely inventing lists of assessment opportunities and making the learning fit in rather than the other way round.
- Timetabling. Not a concern at this stage. Learning drives the timetable not the other way round.
- Staffing. Again it is not a priority at this stage. Focus on learning not personalities.
Instead we gather in Learning Area groups and brain dump courses . At this stage all of the information about a course must fit on a post it note. These notes include the title of the course and whether it is being proposed because it covers a necessary skill or capability taken from the New Zealand Curriculum or because it is a result of learner need/ passion or interest. These notes are placed on large sheets of paper [one per Learning Area] that are divided into columns according to the sub groups inherent in that particular Learning Area. For example Languages would have a column for Te Reo, Spanish etc. The notes are placed in the appropriate column.
Then there is a time to wander and discuss as staff try to find cross curricular connection.
These sheets are extremely messy. more of an explosion onto the page rather than an organised course structure.
Stage 2 Reflection.
This stage takes a few days. The sheets are left in an accessible location and staff can add to amend and change over this period as they reflect, think and discuss.
One of our challenges with Senior 2 planning and implementation is how to move towards increasing specialization as out learners move in to the senior years without resorting or retreating to traditional silos.
We have to realize also that we have had a system of enforced integration as we have designed our timetable to accommodate and enforce elements of cross curricular collaboration and integration and we need to move to a system where the integration is increasingly carried in the head of the learners. We have to investigate how to move from almost legislated integration to learner owned and personalized integration.
Nothing too difficult there then!!!
Stage 3 Back to the Start to go forward.
Before we opened as a school we, as a staff, spent time on breaking our Learning Areas down to what were our key capabilities, the essence and essentials of each learning area. Not the content but the core capabilities. We resurrected these and used them as a way of rebooting our thinking and ensuring that we were covering what is important rather than what we thought was important.
We reviewed these in our learning areas and pruned our lists to 5 key capabilities required for our next stage.
Stage 4 Course planning.
Again in our Learning Areas we now took all of this messy work and used the template below to start refining and defining the courses that we would like to offer.
This template is deliberately hand drawn and you will notice that all of our work so far is hand written. this is deliberate to send a strong message that this is the planning sage and nothing is set in concrete, we are still in the messy phase. Still no mention of assessment.
What is covered on this sheet is the Course title and associated Learning Area.
The left hand column establishes links between this proposal and what has been covered in previous years. In other words where does this course come from and the right hand column indicates where it is leading to in Senior 3. In other words a type of continuum is established.
In the middle is a list of the key capabilities established by the Learning Area that will be covered in this proposed course. Below all of this is a space to now start providing the content that will be covered. So we are moving from Philosophical verification towards content and then we will be ready for an assessment discussion.
Stage 5 Cross Fertilization.
Once again we revert to Post it noes and place these revised course proposals on a non Learning Area chart under an appropriate heading depending on the richness of what is being proposed.
So a text heavy course might go under the Literacy Rich heading, a Sports nutrition proposal could go under the Production Rich heading or the Hauora/ Phy Ed rich heading.
This allows and encourages the staff to start finding the natural connections between their proposals and start to merge and discuss proposals in a non Learning Area dimension.
And that is where we are up to so far…
Next stage is refining and pruning, finding the connections, checking coverage and then addressing assessment. oh and then looking at timetabling and staffing.
No problems, it is all rather easy …or not.