Learning how to teach according to development level of students
March 30, 2007 8:45 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in learning about curriculum development. More specifically on understanding what types of information different age students can understand and be challenged by, without "going over their helmet".

In religious circles, and maybe others, there is the idea of spiral curriculum. Which is where the entire body (all age groups) is learning the same material, just at different levels. So while elementary students are learning the basic stories, and important factual information necessary to establish a foundation upon which to learn, the college student is learning the deeper theological issues associated, and how this story connects with the Bible at large (more abstract thinking).

What I'm wanting to know, or begin to understand, is what are the best ways of assessing whether certain "Students" will be able to comprehend the depth of the content being taught.

So, to continue with the religious example, say someone is teaching through the book of John. What is the best way to go about determining the level and the depth and the breadth of the teaching?

I'm looking for books, artciles, websites, personal experience.

And I'm also thinking more generally than just 1,2,3,4...10,11,12 grades. More in these groups: 7th and 8th, 9th and 10th, and 11th and 12th grade groups.

I also know that development comes down to individual students, but generally most students are within a similar developmental stage.

Visual, I see having some paradigm of questions in a staircase diagram. I want the students to progress to their goal. So the goal of public education perhaps would be to be adequately prepared to attain and maintain a job, or be prepared for college.

Sorry to ramble, developmentally I'm at the stage where I think more words = better post. :D Thanks MeFi.

(The helmet reference was from Spaceballs... in case anyone was wondering)
posted by peripatew to Education (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Maybe to clarify, I suppose I'm wanting to learn the initial step of creating a scope and sequence chart, rather than developing a specific curriculum.
posted by peripatew at 9:04 AM on March 30, 2007

You may want to look at bloom's taxonomy (many other similar resources available via Google) to describe the learning objectives.

Also, you may want to look at 7th, 8th, 9th, and so on reading lists and curriculum lists. You could maybe try categorizing the reading group questions by something like bloom's taxonomy.

Kids are great at thought experts, questioning, more so than is sometimes given to them. Level of comprehension is usually underestimated, and ability to apply to experience appropriately is at times overestimated.

Side note: in my own religious education, it aimed at much too low of a level and made it hard to resolve questions I had (questioning without teacher prompting is hard as peer pressure discouraged engaging at a higher level).
posted by ejaned8 at 9:21 AM on March 30, 2007

Zone of Proximal Development

Or scaffolding.
posted by scratch at 1:42 PM on March 30, 2007

What types of skills will be in the scope & sequence? General metacognitive skills or are you getting specific with Literary Skills, Reading Skills, Writing Skills, Listening & Speaking Skills, etc.?

say someone is teaching through the book of John. What is the best way to go about determining the level and the depth and the breadth of the teaching?

You'd want to first check the reading level (of the particular translation) of the book of John. Lexiles help with this. If you try to teach a reading selection at too high of a level, you will spend more time on decoding grammar and vocabulary and checking reading comprehension than you will on analysis.

Also, the way you are grouping grades together might not be helpful. The general breakdowns are to group 6-8, 9-10, and 11-12 or sometimes even 9-12, but look at a lot of milestone charts for different disciplines (here's one for early language development).

I want the students to progress to their goal.

This sounds more like formative than summative assessment.
posted by mattbucher at 3:55 PM on March 30, 2007

Response by poster: mattbucker: Specific skills would be comprehension and application of the subject. So, related to the study on John, that the student would be able to understand the text, and have some take-away. Actually, I don't know if I understand scope and sequence enough to be specific in skills. With the Book of John, progression into deeper levels of understanding of the theology. So not so much of a focus on the specific skills you mentioned. Maybe at the end of the S&S would be some education on Biblical Greek, but not at a seminary level. This is a different issue entirely though.

I'm very early in thinking through this idea (just the past few days), so any other resources would be appreciated. I've found some general learning theory books, and I'm planning on revisiting my developmental and adolescent psychology books as well. But I'm not sure how much this aspect will help with creating scopes and sequences in general. It seems that learning more about educational theories rather than psychological would be most beneficial, but that is not to say that psychological wouldn't help.

I really appreciate all of the suggestions, it is going to take me a while to read through these, but I will try to post back as I work through these ideas.
posted by peripatew at 7:24 PM on March 30, 2007

Without any background in educational theory, I would suggest that for higher levels (grades 9-10 maybe at the earliest) you might look at interpretations of (as in your example) the Book of John throughout history. Surely there are some artworks that address the topics, either church commissioned, or, uh, not.

As for approaching the deeper theological meaning, you might also approach the deeper social constructs implied in John. The theme of the Word of God made flesh might be approached somewhere else, either in painting, sculpture, or literature.

Other topics in John that could be cross referenced or just used for writing prompts or introspection: ministry, the 7 miracles and the symbols within each miracle, and also the importance of the order of the miracles. If I recall correctly, other books place them in different orders.

So, like we do in history, using secondary texts to help get kids to understand primary sources, and vice versa.

Good luck with that.
posted by bilabial at 9:44 PM on March 30, 2007

Check out the National Geographic School Publishing Division site. It's kind of sales-oriented, but it lays out how their system works and offers some insights into differentiated learning.
posted by gemmy at 12:20 AM on March 31, 2007

Also you might want to look into "teaching for understanding" (perkins) and Universal Design for Learning (Rose).
posted by Meemer at 6:57 PM on March 31, 2007

Response by poster: Meemer: Both links that you post are the same?
posted by peripatew at 6:27 AM on April 1, 2007

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