Curriculum development requires collaboration of all stakeholders in order to meet the objectives as well as guarantee benefit of the students. It is also important to identify a strategic discipline that can ensure maximum benefit to the students after they move to the next class. The aim of the current paper is to describe the development of a new curriculum for a school district located in an urban setting with students from a multicultural background. The paper also describes the benefits that come with the curriculum.
Keywords: language, learning, core instructional goals, cultural influence
Proposal for New Curricula
Schools are expected to meet the emerging needs of the learners by providing them with knowledge that can address the emerging needs. Regulatory bodies have continued to develop new standards and requirements for schools to enhance the learning and teaching of students and pupils. Therefore, schools are expected to come up with new curriculum to reflect the new standards and requirements in the education sector. The aim of this paper is to describe the specific curriculum area following the proposal to develop a new curriculum for district school.
Description of the Specific Curriculum Area and Grade Level
Language is an important tool in the progress of a learner. Many schools put emphasis on disciplines other than the language of instruction. However, as the world keeps changing and technology brings people together, the need for a language other than the first language becomes more important. For instance, to pursue higher learning in a society that uses a different language of instruction means that a student must learn the language of instruction before being allowed to embark of learning in the area of their choice. A need for a curriculum that gives the learners an opportunity to choose a language of their choice early in their learning will help them to avoid inconveniences of having to learn a new language later when they want to pursue their studies in other countries (Macalister, 2015). The proposed curriculum is focused on improving language proficiency by allowing learners in all grade levels to choose a language of their preference to study alongside other disciplines. The curriculum not only enables the learners to experience and appreciate the culture of other people but also to prepare for future learning in case they would want to pursue their studies in the countries where that particular language is used as a medium of instruction. It also allows them to learn holistically in the sense that they are able to understand concepts differently in various languages and apply them in their interaction with people from their own culture as well as the culture of the people from the second language.
Core Instructional Goals for the Curriculum
The following core instructional goals have been formulated in the proposed curriculum. The core instructional goals will form the center of focus for teachers and the school community during the process of implementing the new proposed curriculum (Parris and Headley, 2015).
- The first core instructional goal is to enable the learners in all grade levels to read texts in other languages; the language of their choice. This will call for the school to balance literature and informational texts availed to the learners at different levels. The complexity of the literature and informational texts will reflect the level of learning of the student so that those in lower grades are given literature that is easy to read.
- The second core instructional goal is writing in the language of choice. Emphasis will be put on information and argument. Learners will also be able to explain concepts using the language of their choice. Apart from that, they will use evidence gathered during the reading to inform their argument and comprehension of the various ideas during the learning process.
- The third core instructional goal is to enable them to speak clearly in the language of their choice. Speaking will also be accompanied by listening other people speak in that particular language and understanding it. It is important that the learners have colleagues learning the same language with whom they can converse. Emphasis will be put on the ability to speak and communicate clearly with people using the chosen language. They will learn informal and formal use of the language as these are important aspects of understanding a given language.
- The last core instructional goal is to instill vocabulary use with emphasis on both, domain specific and general academic vocabularies. Language is dynamic especially when it comes to its use in different contexts. There are different vocabularies used in each context and learners will be taught how to use various vocabularies depending on the context in which they are communicating.
The Approach to Curriculum Development
Designing a language curriculum for learners in school can be challenging. Language is a cultural tool that defines the human and behavioral aspects of the people. The need for essential systems to be in place in order to be able to teach a new language is important in ensuring that people get to grasp a new language that they have never had interaction with. On the behavioral aspect, the strategy is to understand how learners communicate with others and the essence of their communication (Parris and Headley, 2015). By understanding their behaviors and perceptions about languages and culture of other people, it will be possible to develop a curriculum that addresses their needs and also their fears of other languages apart from their first language. The behavioral strategy will encompass school activities such as sports where there is free communication so that learners are able to use the language of their choice during play time and in social places.
In terms of the systems, the school will need to provide the material for learning, including textbooks, videos and other media where learners can access and use the material in the language of their choice. The use of technology will be important in ensuring that learners always have access to materials that promote their grasp and understanding of the new language. In the aspect of humanistic approach to teaching a new language, it will be important to appreciate the role of language in learning not just the language itself but also other disciplines like mathematics and sciences. Learners will be encouraged to read, speak, write, and use the correct vocabularies in different settings (The Center for Teaching and Learning, 2015). The same will be tested through assessment tests, speaking competitions, essay writing competitions, and other similar activities that will encourage the use of the language for which the learners have signed up.
Philosophical / Theoretical Approach to Curriculum Development
Developing a new curriculum for learners in different grade levels requires understanding of the needs of the learners and the society. For this reason, development of the proposed new curriculum will be based on the understanding of the existing needs of the learners as well as their clamor for the new language. The curriculum will be based on the idealism concept of learning that the purpose of learning should be to empower the learner with essential skills that can propel them to high progress in life (Wright and Neuman, 2013). The world is very dynamic and globalization has brought with it convergence of communities and culture. Thus, it is an ideal situation to empower learners with language skills to enable them to take advantage of the numerous opportunities around the world.
Moreover, as more people move into cities, chances of interacting with someone who does not speak one’s language are high. By teaching second language alongside the normal learning, schools will be contributing to the development of important skills needed by contemporary learners to be able to fit in with the communities around the world. Learners will be required to speak their language of choice, write essays, read texts written in that particular language, and have enough stock of vocabularies that they can use in the right context. They will be required to understand the formal and informal usage of the language and the different contexts in which the language may be used (Wright and Neuman, 2013). Especially, it is important because they will be learning a general approach to the language with the view of finally being able to communicate effectively with others in their communities besides accessing the numerous opportunities around the world.
Psychological Motivational Approach to Curriculum Development
Learning occurs when people are able to understand and unpack the content which they encounter in their learning environment. As students access new materials, they become inquisitive and critical of the content they are getting. As such, the proposed curriculum is based on the concept that psychologically, learners will want to read the materials they are given and write notes about what they are learning (Ornstein and Hunkins, 2013). They will also want to be able to speak with other people including their instructors using the language of instruction and converse with their colleagues in formal and informal situations about many other things. This knowledge will inform the design of the new curriculum in sense that it should emphasize on the core instructional areas of learning that the learner should use to understand the new language. It is also based on the psychological motivation that learning occurs in a social context. No one can learn effectively when they are not interacting with others in the learning context. The presence of other people during learning means that they are able to ask questions and give responses, do assessments, and learn from others (Parris and Headley, 2015). By having a curriculum that considers all these factors, learners will be able to be enthusiastic and expectant of the next lesson and also to develop a spirit of competing where they would like to become the best in their class.
Cultural Influence with the Greatest Impact on the School District
The school district is located in an urban area where learners come from different social and cultural backgrounds. By having a multiplicity of language in school, introducing a curriculum that helps to nurture and grow these languages will resonate well not only with school but also with the community where the school is located (Ornstein and Hunkins, 2013). It will also act as a pull factor to attract more students who may want to join the school based on its curriculum that appreciates diversity. The school district is also concerned with developing all rounded learners who are able to compete effectively with students from other schools where languages are emphasized as a tool of learning.
Effective Way to Integrate the Cultural Influence Into the Planned Curriculum
One of the ways through which culture can be effectively integrated is through encouraging learners to form language clubs. These clubs will be used as venues where learners can exercise their reading and writing capabilities (Ornstein and Hunkins, 2013). They will also be able to learn about vocabularies and other features in their language of choice. Forming communities will help to manage the diversity of language while also promoting identity and cohesiveness in learning. By having these communities and clubs in school, learners will have an opportunity to interact among themselves in an informal setting where they can challenge one another and also identify best ways to improve their skills (Lund and Tannehill, 2014). Teachers will also encourage them to communicate with the members of the community in the language they have learned. They will also organize cultural events where language diversity is celebrated and appreciated. It will allow learners to appreciate the languages that they are not learning and maybe think about undertaking those classes later on in their learning.
Strategy for Incorporating Critical Thinking Skills
Critical thinking skills are important in ensuring that learners are getting the required concepts and also applying them in their social interactions (Ornstein and Hunkins, 2013). Critical thinking skills will be nurtured through competitions for reading, writing, speaking, and understanding the different vocabularies of the language as used in different contexts. The learners will also be asked to apply what they have learned to solve problems in other disciplines like science and mathematics (Molle, Sato, Boals and Hedgspeth, 2015). Apart from that, they will be required to write stories to be read in front of a group of learners and those who perform well will be awarded for their effort.
Planned Curriculum Using Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Objectives
Learning takes place in stages according to Bloom’s Taxonomy. For this reason, the proposed curriculum will provide systems that allow the learners to move from one stage to another in relation to Bloom’s Taxonomy. The first strategy is to ensure that the learners are knowledgeable in the areas of language that they have been taught. In this stage, learners are expected to recognize key terms, have a clear understanding of the ideas, and differentiate the processes and theories of learning a given language among other features. In the comprehension part, learners are expected to interpret and extrapolate the concepts such as semantics and grammar of the language they are taught. During social interactions and assessments, learners will be expected to apply the abstractions and general principles they learned in a language of their choice and also to be able to identify different aspects of what they have learnt in class.
In the process of learning the vocabularies, learners should be able to analyze the separation of formal and informal vocabularies used in the particular language that they have learned and also allow them to use the language effectively to communicate with other people depending on the context and the situation. As the curriculum is designed for all grades, the learning strategy is to have a progressive learning approach where the learners are able to grow from one level to the next. They will also be required to be creative, synthesize the concepts and apply them through evaluation of the usage of the language in different contexts. As stated by Macalister (2015), learning can only be effective when the learner is able to make judgments, apply external evidence and use observations and informed rationalizations to make comments or judgments. The rationale for this strategy is to allow learners to grow from one stage to the next and assess their progress through learning
The proposed curriculum focuses on improving the language diversity of the school. The curriculum will follow the Bloom’s Taxonomy elements that will enable the learners to grow from knowledge acquisition to evaluation of the language use in formal and informal contexts. The major instructional goals include empowering the learners to read, speak, write, and acquire vocabularies to enable them to communicate in the language of their choice. The proposed strategy is to teach the learners through stages that enable them to articulate fluently in the language of choice