I made most of my unit design choices through the framework of what we learned in our curriculum design course. The main focus of my curriculum design will revolve around the theme of assessment and its importance in curriculum design. I chose to focus on assessment for the entire two-week unit, teaching necessary English grammar and vocabulary throughout, so that students can explore the topic thoroughly and fully grasp the subject. This “less is more” approach allows “learners to focus on a topic in some depth… Learners need time to connect new learning to prior knowledge and experiences and they need adequate time to process new information through multiple, interactive experiences (Clementi & Terrill, 2013).” Exploring one topic during the entire unit allows the learners to investigate thoroughly essential questions, better comprehend enduring understandings, achieve the stated goals, and make deeper connections. It is important for learners to not only gain knowledge during the course, but also understandings that will allow them to build on and apply the knowledge to their lives (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). Additionally, focusing on assessment will allow learners to make deeper connections with other disciplines, such as history and anthropology.
As stated by Wiggins & McTighe (2005), “Backwards design is goal directed (p. 56).” With this in mind, I focused the course activities around the goals listed in the unit template. I created these goals from what I learned during needs analysis. The summative performance assessment will allow learners to practice creating a scoring rubric related to Ruth’s sixth grade unit plan. Thus, learners will be able to immediately apply what they learn. An assessment such as this, which learners can incorporate in their own teaching, is preferred because “assessment procedures should promote positive washback” through a “clear alignment of course objectives and test content (Bailey & Curtis, 2015).” Learners will be more motivated and invested in the assessment if they link the activity to something they might do in the real world.
My unit design follows a content-based instruction approach (CBI). I chose CBI not only because it has been shown to be effective in language learning (Tedick & Cammarata, 2010), but also because I needed to instruct learners in teacher training workshops. The focus on teacher training does not mean language forms will be ignored; I will incorporate grammar review and instruction throughout the course as needs arise. Tedick & Cammarata (2010) write that “the overall aim of CBI is threefold: to help learners to (1) use language meaningfully and purposefully, (2) learn through language as they construct knowledge and develop understandings about a topic and a learning task, and (3) learn about language when there is a focus on form. I think CBI is a strong approach to language learning for all courses, but especially fitting for my goals.
Bailey, K., & Curtis, A. (2015). Learning about language assessment: Dilemmas, decisions, and directions. Boston, MA: National Geographic Learning.
Clementi, D., & Terrill, L. (2013). The keys to planning for learning: Effective curriculum, unit, and lesson design. Alexandria, VA: ACTFL.
Tedick, D. J., & Cammarata, L. (2010). Implementing content-based instruction: The CoBaLTT framework and resource center. In J. Davis (Ed.), World language teacher education (pp. 243–273). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Columbus, OH: Pearson Education, Lt.