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

June 19, 2019

First Avenues Law Review!

by Ron Widelec, Upper Division History Teacher


The Avenues Law Review Club has finally published our very first law review. As far as we can tell, we are the first and only high school in the nation to produce one! 

June 13, 2019

Creativity is a Process: Visiting Author E. Lockhart Shares Why Creativity Is Not the Same as Spontaneity

by Cherie Yanek, Upper Division Librarian


Award-winning author E. Lockhart visited students in grades 7, 8, and 9 this spring, sharing her work, stories, and background. Students left intrigued about her life, eager to read more of her books and inspired for their own creative processes. 

June 11, 2019

New York and São Paulo Kindergarteners Create a Quilt Together

by Natalie Gootkin, Kindergarten Teacher


The Avenues New York kindergartners have been working alongside Avenues São Paolo kindergartners throughout the year! They spent time getting to know each other through interviews, a greeting card project and now through the creation of a quilt.  

June 4, 2019

Language and Literature in Spanish

by Olga Valeria, Upper Division Spanish Teacher


In Spanish 5 class, upper grades students were introduced to the topic of language and literature.  

May 30, 2019

The Eight Great Cuisines of China Project

by Ting Wang, Middle Grades Chinese Teacher


After the mascot designing contest and our persuasive letter project, the 7th grade Wu Ji Xian class moved on to complete a new research project called “ba da cai xi,” or the “eight great regional cuisines in China,” which are Cantonese, Sichuan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Min, Hunan, Anhui and Lu.  


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