Origins of Colorado's District Sample Curriculum Project
In March of 2012, the Colorado Department of Education hosted a one-day summit on the new Colorado Academic Standards (CAS) that garnered feedback from participants regarding the “next steps” for successful standards implementation. Participants expressed a strong desire for the state to assist districts in developing sample standards-based curriculum resources. At the same time, the state received a letter from the leadership of CASSA (Colorado Association of School Superintendents and Senior Administrators) requesting the state’s assistance in developing sample curriculum that districts could choose to use.
These grass-roots requests supplied the initial foundation and support for CDE to begin working with educators to create sample course-at-a-glance and unit overview templates; optional tools that districts can use when developing their curriculum. The templates are customizable and designed to allow users the flexibility to adapt for local contexts and needs. CDE content specialists will support educator’s use of these tools to develop curriculum samples. All samples will be available on this website for voluntary usage by Colorado districts. The aim is to build district capacity to engage in quality instructional design and to work with educators to create an array of samples available to support districts and standards implementation.
Requirements for Colorado’s district curriculum “samples”
Responding to these requests for curriculum support required we frame the creation of materials within the unique context of Colorado schools and standards. Colorado’s sample curriculum template honors the local-control nature of Colorado’s districts by providing the same level of flexibility for districts with no curricula as it does for districts utilizing the work of Wiggins and McTighe, Robert Marzano, Larry Ainsworth, etc. Likewise, the template communicates equally well the concepts and content of all ten content areas within the CAS by focusing attention on the intellectual depth, the transfer of knowledge, and the 21st century skills required by the new standards.
Creation (and refinement) of Colorado’s district sample curriculum template
To accomplish these aims, the content specialist team in the Office of Standards and Instructional Support consulted internationally respected concept-based curriculum developer Dr. Lynn Erickson. Working with Dr. Erickson, the team produced a template designed to address the requirements of the CAS and the needs of Colorado’s districts/schools. Here is the current iteration of the template with explanations of its course-at-a-glance and unit overview sections. We also have a crosswalk document that compares template vocabulary with other popular curriculum frameworks. Continuous refinement of both the template and crosswalk will occur throughout the Sample Curriculum Project as the content specialists work with Colorado educators to create curriculum materials and processes that best support the implementation of the CAS.
For Website support through the Office of Standards and Instructional Support, please e-mail Anna Huffman.