Coleman's expressions

Monday, March 20, 2006

Models of and Technology in Curriculum

Though I’ve had a number of years of formal education and hands-on teaching experience, I’ve never taken a class specifically in curriculum development, so the models of Tyler, Taba, and Wiggins/McTighe are new to me. However, all of them have elements that are demonstrated in my educational experiences.

Since one of my focal points is “learner-centered,” I was immediately drawn to Tyler’s recommendation of incorporating learner’s needs when selecting objectives. Tools such as pre-assessments and KWL can offer valuable insight in developing curriculum at the classroom level. Focus groups and surveys at the school, district or community level can offer similar opportunities.

Selecting objectives is one of the first steps of all three models – and an important one. As a teacher focusing on teaching activities and instruction, the objectives (the “desired results” as described by Wiggins & McTighe) are often a second thought and do not get the needed attention. I believe that most teachers think about objectives, but don’t necessarily develop them or articulate them to the degree that includes the six facets of understanding and the essential questions.

Integration among traditional content areas and with “unintended consequences” involves an additional view of curriculum models. Whether it be done in a thematic sense, an interdisciplinary approach or as problem based learning, I’m a firm believer in
curriculum integration. That appears to happen rather naturally at the elementary levels, but is much more difficult to reproduce at the secondary and post-secondary levels. And that is a shame, since not only does integration increase the likelihood of learning, but it is more representational of our reality. If you throw the ubiquity of technology into the mix, curriculum integration is even more vital.

My experiences of infusing technology in the curriculum have been productive and fun – though, like most, I’ve had to modify them after the first go-round! Some of the ways:
  • Integrating productivity tools such as word processing, spreadsheets, presentation tools, and publishing software is almost a ‘given’ anymore. For example, in an integrating technology lesson plan, The Keys to Your Dream Car, students developed decision-making skills, filtered web-based information, applied math skills in determining fuel costs, and used a spreadsheet for organizing information in a chart format in selecting their “dream” car – and found out the costs of car ownership! This was part of a large unit on Career Research & Decision-Making.

  • Use of web-based multimedia programs, such as the Interview game for practicing tips on job interview skills and Career Key for self-assessment tools.

  • Created and used WebQuests and online Filamentality Scavenger hunts: Show Me the Software is in need of a make-over, but much of the content is still acceptable and Hunt for Integrating Technology was used to demonstrate their use to a EME2040 class, as well as give them a review and application of a textbook chapter.

  • Taught a face-to-face class with online support through WebCT as the platform tool – utilized assessement tools, assignment drop-boxes, and discussion boards and developed content modules

  • I tried blogs as a communication tool for a Problem-Based Learning project in my Intro to Educ Tech class a few years ago – It was not terribly successful, but knowing what I know now about blogs, I would revamp it entirely!

  • As well, I tried to get an e-mentoring group of high school juniors when I was a high school guidance counselor. The goal was to mentor incoming 9th graders and help them adjust to the high school environment and responsibilities. It didn’t get off the ground, but I still think it has validity, especially if incorporated within curriculum (most likely English) and classes with teachers willing to embrace!


  • Marie - Thanks for sharing some of your strategies with us. Several resources came to mind as I read your post. First, I think you would enjoy a recent article by Judi Harris entitled: Our Agenda for Technology Integration: It's time to choose (

    Second, if you are looking for examples of technology integration to share with your students you might want to consider the videos available on Edutopia ( and the video examples from Apple's site.

    Finally, I used to have a great article that provided visual representations of 10 different curriculum integration models. I need to locate the article again but I think it would be useful to you since you work with different grade levels.

    I would love to hear about other resources you use as well -KD :)

    By Blogger Kara Dawson, at 3/22/2006 5:43 AM  

  • Marie-
    I loved the great links! The Interview Game was fun, and even though I'm "just" an English teacher, I see real value in teaching life skills as well. I think playing this game (the scored version!) would be interesting for my kids; I don't think as many of them would do as well as they might initially think. This would be a great tool to use for middle school and higher.
    The 'Keys to Your Dream Car' might also provide a dose of realism, but by using technology in a fun, interactive way.
    Thanks for the resources!

    By Blogger Ms. Lambard, at 3/22/2006 7:18 AM  

  • Thanks for the links, Marie! They follow very closely with my current discipline! I have added them to "my delicious."

    Agreed about Tyler's recommendation regarding the learners' needs when setting objectives and also about the importance of objectives. I am as guilty as any of not looking as deeply into this facet of curriculum as I should and I have caught myself focusing on volume of material covered and using that as a cheap substitute.

    I will echo your excitement about using technology in the classroom, though my experiences are rather new, most of which began evolving after last class. The blogs and webquests have been my favorites as my students seem to enjoy them (or at least prefer them to my lecture!). FutureQuest has been a ggod one for my students as most are on the verge of full-fledged adulthood.

    I also appreciate your KWL reference (CRISS graduate?) as I used this strategy as a health and physical education teacher at the middle school for a number of years and found it to be a useful tool to guide instruction. Great blog, as usual!

    By Blogger Jimmy Harris, at 3/24/2006 11:33 AM  

  • Marie,

    You really rocked the boat I sail in...I often find myself wanting to pound my head on the table as a result of the frustration I feel over the lack of technology integration among subjects in elementary school. I assumed everything got fixed by middle and high school. Apparently, I was wrong.

    Do you think that technology integration is thought of as a higher priority above elementary school? Or do you think it still is not taken as seriously as it should be. I often think that noone takes elementary teachers seriously about technology integration - especially in kindergarten where I live.

    By Blogger Lynn, at 3/25/2006 3:24 PM  

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