Educators benefit from understanding curriculum design strategies and using different design approaches to create lesson plans. Innovative curriculum design is critical for educating an increasingly diverse student population. Teachers face challenges in improving academic performance for all students.
Curriculum design is constantly evolving. Research into the impact of different design approaches and classroom experiences leads to a continuous improvement process. Enrolling in an online curriculum design certificate program keeps educators current on the latest trends and prepares them to create engaging lesson plans for their students.
Recent trends include project-based learning and cooperative learning, but the most significant trend is the concept of curriculum differentiation.
Curriculum Differentiation in the Classroom
Curriculum differentiation entails educators modifying or adapting a curriculum according to the ability level of individual learners in the classroom, according to the International Bureau of Education (IBE), designated as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Curriculum differentiation takes into account the differences between individual students. According to IBE, educators design curriculums that match the content and teaching approach to students' learning styles, needs and characteristics.
Taking this approach allows teachers flexibility in how they instruct students. They can customize content to work with a student’s level of understanding of the material and deliver material in a way that engages students best and gets them actively involved in learning. Educators can also change the classroom environment to best support student learning.
Trends in Curriculum Design Strategies
In addition to curriculum differentiation, some of the current trends in education include the following related to elementary education.
Promoting Inquiry-Based Learning in STEM
The curriculum designs for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) courses benefit from a student-centered learning environment that offers opportunities for hands-on activities. Teachers guide students through problem-solving processes to support their development into logical thinkers with proficiency in STEM fields.
Project-Based Learning and Common Core Standards
Project-based learning (PBL) is part of the Common Core Standards adopted in most states. PBL helps students meet those standards and develop deeper thinking skills that will benefit them throughout their academic and professional careers. Students learn to ask questions, define problems and use math and computational thinking.
Actively engaged students tend to learn more and retain more information. Teachers guide students by developing a curriculum that produces a learning environment where students engage in activities and projects that support their education.
In cooperative learning, students work in small groups as they take on activities and projects that help them develop mastery of a subject. They not only learn themselves but also take on the responsibility of helping other students in the group learn.
Holistic Approaches to Learning
A holistic approach to education involves going beyond core academics to teach the whole person, including essential areas such as social emotional learning. This is especially important in underserved areas where students benefit from an integrated curriculum and a positive environment that addresses learning and teaches students to reflect on their important place in the local and global community.
Fresno Pacific University’s Curriculum Design Courses and Certificate
Educators motivated to grow their knowledge of curriculum design can do so through the 100% online professional development programs offered by Fresno Pacific University. These programs prepare teachers with the skills needed to create successful curriculum design strategies.
The introductory Curriculum Design & Differentiation course focuses on implementing curriculum differentiation into the classroom. Educators learn effective strategies for teaching a diverse student population. Educators in the course are assigned to read "The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners" by Carol Ann Tomlinson.
Educators learn how to apply the basics of brain biology to their curriculum design strategies and how to implement student assessment methods, analyze student outcomes and choose the next steps in the learning process.
Completing the course counts as credit toward earning a Curriculum Design and Assessment Certificate from Fresno Pacific University. Once they complete the Curriculum Design & Differentiation course, educators can complete the curriculum design certificate program by taking four courses from a list of elective options. They include:
- Performance Assessment Strategies
- Differentiate with Technology
- Develop New Courses for the 21st Century
- Rubrics: Good for Students, Good for Teachers
- Student-Centered Learning
- Instructional Strategies to Inspire Learning
- Portfolios in the Classroom
- Teaching with Your Strengths
- Enhancing Executive Function
- Data-Driven Decision-Making for Educators
Developing expertise in curriculum design helps teachers provide each student with the type of instruction that engages them in learning. It’s vital knowledge to gain when working with an increasingly diverse student population.