Collaborative Curriculum Design [Course C]

Collaborative Curriculum Design is a culminating experience where participants reflect upon and apply the new knowledge they have attained in previous courses to their own classroom curricular development, in a process of ongoing creative inquiry. In this course, participants draw from their experiences and knowledge acquired in course A and B to develop creative, inquiry-based, integrated curricula. To do this, participants work deeply with the Teaching for Understanding framework, using the four structures to design, deepen and improve curricula. Essential to this course is the collaborative nature of curricular design, building on the wisdom of the collective to build new supportive professional dialogue in schools and communities about issues of teach- ing, learning, quality and continuous improvement.

Course C follows an intentional design process which supports participants to develop the following four instructional practices:

1. Generative Topic: Participants use the following lines of inquiry to designate a core topic that is generative, exciting and engaging for their students and that cuts across subject areas, ideas and methods; How can the curriculum connect to students’ interests and prior knowledge? How can curricula more deeply connect to what matters to teachers and their students? How can curricula be opened up and deepened through interdisciplinary connections? How can intentionally incorporating thoughlines, as a classroom practice, support cross disciplinary exploration, and provide entry points to learning for everyone?

2. Understanding Goals: Participants name what they want their students to understand, in question or statement form, as a public tool for shared classroom creative inquiry. These goals are posted clearly in learning environments and are referred to regularly for whole group reflection on how learning is progressing, how understanding is being developed, and what revisions might be necessary. The understanding goals can often be formed through the dimensions of understanding.

3. Performances of Understanding: What are the specific activities and assignments that students are tasked with to explore, develop, deepen and demonstrate their understanding of the goals? This is where participants creatively design learning engagements that will build experience and deepen their students’ understanding of the core generative topic. How do the lenses of the Integrated Learning Framework, the Studio Habits of Mind, Making Learning Visible and other resources assist in the design of the performances of understanding? How are the arts integrated effectively, and as a way for students to make new meaning and knowledge?

4. Ongoing Assessment: How are ongoing assessments woven into the hour by hour, day by day, week by week learn- ing experiences, so that necessary revisions in instruction and discovery of unanticipated outcomes are surfaced and acted upon? Participants embed a variety of assessment strategies into each learning engagement to better inform their own teaching practice and to witness moments of understanding or misunderstanding for their students. This allows educators to make necessary, just in time, adjustments to learning engagements. How do the ongoing assessments, at the same time, propel student engagement and next steps in learning, while providing powerful information for educators about their next teaching moves?

The explicit emphasis on the Integrated Learning Framework and Teaching for Understanding help educators make decisions about generative topics worth researching, and frame goals that help students focus, engage and grow their understanding. This is an experiential course in collective learning. Participants receive and provide each other feedback through creative inquiry and making their own learning and curricular development visible.

Finally, participants develop and present a new arts-centered, integrated learning curricular unit, created through a powerful experience of the collaborative and collegial nature of the professional educator. Participants understand clearly that students cannot be well-served with teachers as technicians, implementing standardized curriculum. Participants understand how the arts, culturally responsive pedagogies and practices, and research-based frameworks interact to support ongoing dialogue and inquiry on the part of professional educators about issues of quality, ethics, and equity.


Understand how to use and apply arts-centered integrated learning and assessment strategies, practices and frameworks to collaboratively design, critique and implement art-centered integrated learning units and investigations of study.


1. Participants will understand how the Integrated Learning and Teaching for Understanding frameworks can pro- vide guidance and support in the design of interrelated art-centered learning experiences over time, for deeper understanding and comprehensive social, emotional and academic outcomes for every student.

2. Participants will understand how to connect their own interests, and the interests of their students, to import- ant issues in their community and the word.

3. Participants will understand how arts-centered integrated learning strategies provide opportunities to employ arts-based research and contemporary arts practices, culturally responsive pedagogies and deeper learning across the curriculum.

4. Participants will understand how to work and learn collectively to address and improve issues of quality, equity and shared accountability for learning outcomes for each and every child.

“Students have more opportunities to show their learning and understanding of content areas
through mediums that are of interest to them, as well as more opportunities for self-expression.
Both of these aspects lead to greater student buy-in to core content areas.

— Participant, WCCUSD

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