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Planning Curriculum

Students wearing masks and doing schoolwork outdoors

Planning Curriculum for Engaged Learning 

Summer curriculum should provide personalized approaches to address what each student needs to be ready for fall. For some students, this may include a more intentional focus on social emotional learning, while for others, there may be more of a focus on the academic understanding and skills that will be needed for the next year’s learning. In both scenarios, summer learning should provide opportunities for students to have success with learning in all learning environments by creating classes that create engagement and build community.

Summer is an ideal time to take learning outside to increase joy and engagement. Teaching outdoors doesn't have to mean teaching about the outdoors. From simply taking reading onto the school yard to designing a place-based curriculum where the community becomes the text, increasing time outdoors provides students academically, physically, and mentally. Find resources to support this approach and programming in our Taking Education Outdoors Toolkit

Decisions about curricular resources need to be made to align with your purpose, instructional model, and schedule. Through virtual learning situations in the past year, many students have participated in more self-directed learning than ever before. Students may be more independent and more curious to follow their own topics interests. High-quality, standards-aligned curriculum can be contextualized within place-based and/or project-based learning, which will provide rigor and relevance in students’ learning. All students need to have access to and be engaged with grade-level curriculum, and for those who need an extra boost, additional supports and 1:1 teaching should be designed to fill learning gaps within the scope of grade-level learning.

Instructional materials that are high-quality and standards-aligned are often designed to provide instruction across models for learning. Research shows that student achievement is linked to students having access to standards-aligned instructional materials while teachers have access to materials-based professional learning (Taylor et al., 2015). High-quality, standards-aligned instructional materials in English language arts and mathematics often include access to resources that provide guidance on how to implement those materials in a remote learning environment. If your instructional materials in English language arts and mathematics are aligned to standards (see EdReports), you should refer to their resources on operationalizing the curriculum.

Priority Instructional Content in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics

School leaders and classroom teachers can find assistance here to make intentional choices about what engaging learning in ELA, literacy and mathematics can look like. When instruction time is particularly limited, identifying and teaching priority content allows systems to ensure students simultaneously learn grade-level content and unfinished learning from prior grades. This document explains and identifies Priority Instructional Content in ELA and Mathematics to meet all students' current (social emotional learning) and future (college and/or career readiness) needs. Understanding of priority content is developed through and by teaching all standards. Therefore, this document is not intended to replace Wisconsin’s Standards for Mathematics or Wisconsin’s Standards for English Language Arts, and is intended for use during the 2020 - 2021 school year, including summer school, but not as a permanent narrowing of curriculum.

ELA Block Focus

  • K-2 students focus on reading foundational skills as part of integrated literacy instruction.
  • Learning and practice activities should integrate reading, writing, speaking and listening, and application of grammar and conventions.
  • Where possible, students should be given choice in text, topic, and response.
  • All students need access to grade-level text with appropriate scaffolds as needed.

Math Block Focus

  • Wisconsin math standards identify academic standards that should be of focus for each grade-level. Refer to those focus areas when designing instruction.
  • Procedural fluency should be built from conceptual understanding.
  • Students should be supported in engaging in productive struggle to explore mathematical ideas and relationships.
  • Where possible, student choice should be given in strategy and representation to allow for true problem solving and sense-making.
  • Connect mathematics to real-life problems to develop skills and processes.


Guiding Questions

  • How will you contextualize learning for rigor and relevance?

  • Around which prioritized standards or learning outcomes will you focus instruction for each grade level?

  • What curricular materials and resources will you utilize? How will you ensure they are aligned to state content standards?

  • If you already have an established academic-year curriculum resource for a given grade level, what are the most essential instructional activities aligned to those prioritized learning outcomes students should experience during summer school? If you do not have an established curriculum resource, from what high-quality curriculum resource(s) will you select aligned instructional activities (see below for suggestions)?

  • How will you ensure that the focus of your curriculum choices will support students as a jumpstart to fall 2020?

  • How will teachers be supported to use the outcomes of summer learning to focus standards in the students' fall 2020 curriculum?

  • Is there time in the schedule built in for educators to collaborate with other educators as well as enough planning time to identify resources, prepare resources, and make resources available to the students?

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For questions about this information, contact Tamara Mouw (608) 266-2364