A “school design” is much more than curriculum but involves thinking through many aspects of the life of a school: educational objectives; choice of curriculum; rewarding and developing faculty; assessment systems; the culture of a school; school calendar; schedule; and hundreds of other decisions, each affecting one another.
As a new school, Avenues has had the unique opportunity to design its curriculum, and the other components of a school design, from scratch. Any curriculum design, however, is based on a number of well-established factors, including national and local standards and the school’s mission.
Avenues’ curriculum design process begins with consideration of these factors and then uses what Grant Wiggins, a nationally recognized educator, called “backwards planning” in his approach called “understanding by design (UbD.)” This approach focuses first on the outcomes desired, then works backwards, plotting the steps that will produce those outcomes. UbD helps teachers clarify learning goals, devise assessments that reveal student understanding and craft effective learning activities. Developed by Mr. Wiggins in association with Jay McTighe, UbD’s key idea is that a primary goal of education should be the development and deepening of student understanding, which is most effectively revealed when students can transfer what they have learned in one area to understanding in other areas. By defining what student outcomes they want to achieve, teachers then work backwards to develop their curriculum to reach those goals.
A major component of the resulting curriculum design is a good assessment program, which will allow teachers and administrators to evaluate how students are progressing and where they need to go. The curriculum can then be adjusted to respond to students’ needs, improving and strengthening it through many iterations, with more detail added with each iteration.
Curriculum design, then, is not a one-time process. The school is constantly reexamining the curriculum, fine-tuning and improving it, both during the school year and at the end of each year.
August 15, 2018
This spring, 8th grade students in the “Avenues Adventure School” Minimester course had an opportunity to experience some of the ways that New Yorkers can get out and explore our natural environment.
August 8, 2018
In the Avenues Small World program for 2- and 3-year-old students, the children take partner walks with a teacher and one peer in the neighborhood as part of our regular spring curriculum. These walks encourage curiosity, friendship and adventure!
August 2, 2018
We embarked on a months-long process to sort through every education app in our arsenal and categorize them.
July 27, 2018
As part of of their “City Life” topic, students in the Spanish 8D class worked on a hands-on project, “My City Life.” In collaboration with the iLab, students were to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces, paying particular attention to physical, cultural and social identities.
July 19, 2018
As the children are becoming more representational in their drawings, we decided that it would be a excellent opportunity for them to create self portraits. These portraits were also a great way to review and teach new Chinese words related to the face while introducing a new way to do art.