Curriculum Design

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.

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Curriculum design is not a one-time process but entails constant fine-tuning and improvement.

Recent Articles from OPEN, our news and discussion blog

April 20, 2018

An Interdisciplinary Project Connects Avenues 2nd Graders to Students in Nepal

by Rosalyn McCaine, Lower Division Art Teacher


Our 2nd grade students have been taking part in an amazing global art collaboration, much of it completed in their immersion art class. A program called Crossroads has partnered Avenues New York, Jan Kath gallery, and Kelsang Primary School in Kathmandu, Nepal, in a year-long carpet-design and pen-pal partnership.  

April 19, 2018

Avenues Global Journeys: Climate Change and Culture in Taiwan

by Grace Jackson, China Content and Marketing Manager


On a recent Global Journeys program, a group of 9th and 10th graders looked closely at how climate change and sustainability relate to culture in Taiwan.  

April 17, 2018

Keeping Students Active and Engaged in Middle Grades Math

by Fanny Sosenke, Middle Grades Math Teacher


One of the challenges of teaching math is making sure all kids are engaged and all kids learn. The way I address this challenge in my classroom is by first having a several activities planned during the 82-minute class period and by having different math levels of activities available to students.  

April 13, 2018

Avenues’ First Spring Break Camp

by Zoe Shan, Head of Summer Programs


This year, Avenues offered spring-break camp for the first time. During week one campers explored Science of Gourmet Cooking with PoSoCo, while the second week was Mini Musical: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  

April 11, 2018

Debating in Chinese

by Spencer Baron, Upper Division Chinese Teacher


Many students think of language class as a place to acquire basic life skills in a new language, but I imagine not many of my students in Chinese 3 had thought they could have a political debate in their target language.  


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