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Curriculum and Instructional Program For Grades K-6 (Part Two)
Article Summary:This is part two of a two part article that covers how to create, develop, design, and implement a content literacy curriculum and instructional program in Kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms...
Content Literacy Curriculum and Instructional Program for Grades K-6 (Part Two)
Timothy G. Weih, Ph.D.
University of Northern Iowa, USA
This is part two of a two part article that covers how to create, develop, design, and implement a content literacy curriculum and instructional program in Kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms. The following subsections are a continuation of the strategy lesson plan format that was presented in part one of this article beginning where the first article ended.
Instructional Procedures Repeated
The instructional procedures leading to and including the part of the Guided Practice and Checking for Understanding phase of the lesson plan must be repeated for multiple class periods until the teacher is sure most students can demonstrate the new content literacy strategy without teacher and other student support. Even though students are working in small groups on the strategy, each student needs to complete their own work sample when possible. Teachers should constantly assess and evaluate students' work both while they are working, and by collecting the work samples for further assessment and evaluation. When it appears that most students have successfully learned the new content literacy strategy, then the teacher can move on to the next part of the strategy lesson, which is called CLOSURE.
Instructional Procedure: Closure
When it appears that most students can demonstrate that they have learned the content literacy strategy, then the teacher can have each small group of students share what they have learned or done, with the whole class. This constitutes a review of the strategy from the perspectives of the students. There are many ways this can happen, but one of the most beneficial strategies is called "Reporter, Recorder." In this Closure strategy, each small group of elementary students selects one student to write down the main points of their discussion and then to report the content to the whole class, however, all group members are also required to write down the main points, this keeps all students fully active and engaged in the learning process. After students have determined who is going to be the Reporter, Recorder, the teacher asks the students to respond through small group discussion to a question relative to the content literacy strategy that they just engaged in. After giving students enough time to discuss and write their responses, the teacher calls on each small group's Reporter, Recorder to report out to the class. In the end, the teacher collects all the papers from each individual student for the purpose of assessment and evaluation, primarily for the sake of determining if it is feasible to move on to the next part of the Instructional Procedures called INDEPENDENT STUDENT WORK SAMPLE, which is presented in the next subsection. If it appears that many students are still not clear about the content literacy strategy, then the teacher should reteach the strategy.
Instructional Procedure: Independent Student Work Sample
In this phase of the lesson plan, teachers separate students from their groups and give them a new example of the same strategy that they have been learning and working on for the purpose of assessment and evaluation of individual student work samples. The teacher should help students as little as possible. These samples need to be evaluated and any students that are not performing to the degree of success in regards to the objectives for the strategy, the teacher must reteach these students again in the strategy, but this time, the teacher sits with the group of students and leads them through the strategy.
Adaptation and Differentiation
Teachers include modifications and create adaptations in their strategy lesson plans in order to accommodate the needs of one or a few students in the classroom who, for whatever reasons, are not going to be successful as the majority of students in doing the lesson plan activity or in learning the strategy. This is called "differentiation." Each student who has special needs is different in what he or she needs in pursuance of learning and demonstrating skills. Each strategy lesson plan is different in content and directions. There is not a "one size fits all" method that can be applied to every situation. This is why it is so important for teachers to learn how to think for themselves when it comes to academic curriculum development and instructional delivery rather than to be trained to follow a textbook, teaching manual, or some other form of "scripted curriculum." It is crucial for educated teachers to be allowed to develop, create, and design their own curriculum and instruction. The role of textbooks, teaching manuals, and materials found online (including this article) can be used as "resources" to meet the needs that teachers have. The best way to make decisions about how to make adaptations to strategy lesson plans is to constantly think about individual student needs, and then make the necessary accommodations in instructional lesson plans. It is critical for teachers to do everything they can to help individual students grow and become as independent as possible in their academic learning and work samples. The key point is that teachers make accommodations, rather than ignore the need for them. When students become older, they are more sensitive to standing out or being different in any way. Knowing this, then, the best and first accommodation should be to plan and deliver the strategy lesson design covered in this article, with the most important part as being the Guided Practice and Checking on Understanding component happening in small, mixed ability groupings of the classroom students. It is critical that students with special needs be able to draw from the benefits that come from social learning (see Vygotsky). Teachers know best how to help their individual students in their classrooms.
Assessment and Evaluation
Assessment and evaluation is a continual process of engagement on the part of the classroom teacher as she plans and delivers instruction, thinks back about what happened with the students, and then makes changes based on the new knowledge gained. Teachers need to include in their lesson plan how they will assess and evaluate student performance with the strategy. For information covering assessment and evaluation see the article "Assessment and Evaluation for Grades K-6" by Weih (2015). Classroom teachers are constantly learning, and their students are their teachers.
Content Literacy Instructional Units
While content literacy strategy lessons can be planned and delivered as individual components of instruction, teachers usually plan and deliver content literacy instructional units, which are a collection of strategies that all go together under a specific topic of study within each content subject, i.e., language arts, science, social studies, and math. Teachers plan and deliver units for the purpose of demonstrating to students how ideas and information are related to each other and go together for the furtherance of building a more complete and comprehensive understanding of the topic being investigated and studied. Typical units of study and content are traditionally taught at certain grade levels at the national level in the United States (this information can be found through online searches using search engines); and because of this practice, school standards are applicable across the states and content areas.
This article covered how to create, develop, design, and implement content literacy curriculum and instructional delivery for grades K-6. The collection of resources and strategies used for instructing and engaging elementary students in learning is known as the curriculum, and this set of curriculum also comprises the "program" that the teacher uses in her classroom. The standards, textbooks, encyclopedias, dictionaries, novels, videos, and the list goes on; all comprise the resources that classroom teachers use for planning and delivering instruction in their classrooms. But individually, none of these resources are considered "the" curriculum or "the" program. Educated teachers know best how to plan and deliver their own instruction for their classroom students.
About Author / Additional Info:
Timothy G. Weih is an associate professor of education at the University of Northern Iowa, USA, and teaches elementary teaching methods courses.