Developing District Curriculum Frameworks

With our step-by-step guidance, teacher writing teams critically analyze the relevant standards and use that understanding to

  • Organize the standards into “big ideas”— determining which standards fit together and which standards build on prior knowledge or contribute to future understanding;
  • Determine a logical sequence for students to learn those big ideas, supported by appropriate processes;
  • Determine about how long it should take students to master specific content knowledge and/or skill sets; and
  • Identify how a standard (or big idea) actually looks, sounds, and feels when it is successfully enacted in the classroom.

Through collaborative study guided by skilled Dana Center facilitators, the teacher writing teams use these “big ideas” to form the District Curriculum Framework, which consists of the following components.

Scope and Sequence

This section includes the complete, relevant standards, including headings and footnotes that should be taught in each unit of study, organized by quarter.

Yearly Overview

This section lists the title of each unit of study for that grade or course along with the number of days needed to conduct the unit. It offers an at-a-glance overview of the progression and order of the units of study.

Units of Study

These instructional units outline specific student outcomes aligned to the relevant standards. They are the heart of the District Curriculum Framework documents. Each unit of study provides detailed information to support lesson planning and is structured in two main sections:

  • Overview: Lists the total number of days needed to teach the unit and defines expectations for student learning by articulating the content to be learned and practices to be integrated—that is, the relevant standards for content and practice of which students will demonstrate understanding. The overview ends with a list of the essential questions that students should be able to answer by the end of the unit.
  • Written curriculum: This section lists the relevant standards to be taught during the unit (taken directly from the scope and sequence). The Clarifying the Standards subsection provides an analysis of the ideas taught in the current grade level or course as well as the grade level(s) before and after it. This subsection also reports important findings from research to support the thinking behind the sequencing of ideas and to address possible challenges including common student misconceptions about the content or skills.

This Framework becomes the foundation for development and study of classroom lessons.