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

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Monsters in the ELC: Part One

by Dorine Yang, Nursery Teacher


The teachers decided to harness the students' interest in spooky decorations to reinforce the children’s Chinese-language knowledge of colors and help teach about the different facial features.  

December 7, 2018

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by Jacob Goren, Technology Integrator


Given the fact that students in 2nd grade are being asked to participate in that digital world without the direct oversight of their teachers as they complete their homework, we needed to ensure our 2nd grade digital citizenship curriculum prepared students for that responsibility.  

December 5, 2018

Pre-K Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month: Frida Kahlo Study

by Amelia Padilla, Pre-kindergarten Teacher


The Goldfish and Starfish embarked on a study of Frida Kahlo. They learned about her artistic life, where she was from and about her love for making self-portraits. Our pre-K curriculum already incorporates self-portraits, so this was the perfect way to connect the study of Frida Kahlo to a familiar theme.  

November 30, 2018

Writing Memoirs in 8th Grade

by Jordan Kravitz, Upper Division English


This November, the Avenues 8th grade saw Aaron Sorkin’s Broadway production of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, starring Jeff Daniels and Celia Keenan-Bolger, at the Shubert Theater on Broadway.  

November 28, 2018

Creating a “Me Museum” in Kindergarten

by Evelyn Vivar, Spanish Fellow in the Early Learning Center


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