Curriculum Re-Boot & Tune-Up

Curriculum Re-Boot & Tune-Up

January 19, 2016
Garfield Park Conservatory

Is it time for your organization to take a fresh look at your curriculum for your school-based programs? It can seem like a daunting task, but on a bright, cold Tuesday in January, we were delighted to host Amanda Dunne-Acevedo from Northlight Theatre to lead us through exercises and experiences designed to help re-boot your curriculum. With over 20 community partners working together and collaborating, great things were accomplished.


Core Values:

Core Values outlines what your organization finds the most important and integral to your work.

For a sample list of core value words, click HERE  or HERE

Core values can help you better understand what you, your facilitators, stakeholders and community at large think about what your program does and values as important.

One way to get this information from a larger pool of people is to set up something like a Google survey. You can include a number of words that can be chosen to represent core values and ask participants to choose up to 3 (or whatever number suits your organizational needs).

The key is to make sure that everyone is also using the same language, so in addition to picking out words, participants should also be asked to define what that word means.

This process may illuminate misalignment in either the values chosen, the definition of the value(s) or both!  Often this process also helps people involved in your program to become better advocates of your work.

Use this as an opportunity to challenge yourself and your organization to look closely at what you value as an organization and how that will translate into your work

Northlight Approach & ProgramsSpeak Up Core Values


Objectives are what you want your students to be able to do at the end of your session, class or program depending on your organization.

Your organization may be working with overarching program objectives and specific lesson or activity objectives, or one or the other.

Different kinds of objectives may be necessary for your type of program. Are you working with students for 1 hour, 1 week or 1 month? Your objectives will potentially look different in each scenario.

Great objectives share the following characteristics:

  • Clear: a person who knows nothing about your program or activity will know what you mean. Think of a substitute teacher coming into teach your program. Will that person understand what you want students to achieve?
  • Concise: An objective that is a paragraph long may not translate easily into being measureable and may be difficult to digest as the educator and the student!
  • Achievable: Can students actually do this? (Not in terms of ability) For example, an objective that states students will read 100 books in one class period is not likely to be achievable.
  • Utilize strong language: Blooms taxonomy of verbs can be helpful here. Starting objectives with words like “Students will…” also makes for a strong objective. Click Here for a visual of Bloom’s verbs.
  • Measurable: Can you see students doing or developing with this skill/behavior?
  • Ask yourself what the best possible outcome is and translate that into an objective!


Objective & Measurables Example


Activities are what your students will actually be doing in an effort to meet the objective

When structuring your activities, keep in mind:

  • Do my activities align with the objective? For example, perhaps the objective is “Students will find Africa on a map”. If your activity to inform this objective is students writing a poem about Africa, you may still be on subject, but the activity doesn’t provide an opportunity for students to successfully meet the stated objective.
  • Do my activities align with our core values? For example, if one of your core values is “fun”, try to design activities that embody “fun” and model that in your presentation as well.
  • Are my activities differentiated and varied in an attempt to meet more student need? For example, if your activities are always lecture-based, maybe try to add in small group work or role play.


Assessment is how you can measure whether or not you and your students have met the objective through the activity.

When structuring your assessments, keep in mind:

  • Try to look at assessment as a way to see how something you are working on has “landed” and not only as a data collecting tool. How will you know that the students have learned what you wanted them to learn?
  • Assessment does not have to be a “test” or even something students are necessarily completing themselves. For example, rubrics may be a way for you as the facilitator/educator to assess what went well and what needs improvement without having the students even be aware that is what is happening.
  • Ask yourself what will it look like when I know my students are learning or developing in a skill or understanding? Knowing this information will help you create an assessment that is authentic to your program. (Conversely, if you are having trouble deciding what it looks like when you see student success, perhaps start by deciding what doesn’t look like).
  • Not everything you do with your students will be easy to see and measure, and that is okay! Sometimes assessment may be something as simple as: “Is there something on the paper- yes or no”.
  • If the data you are getting from your current assessment tools is not helpful or isn’t providing the information you need to know, don’t panic! This is an opportunity to tune-up your assessment or look more closely at your objectives/activities to find the misalignment.


Additional Resources that might be useful:

  • Lara Pruitt leads CIS of Chicago’s Tailored Support training on assessment and has worked with many organizations on similar work. She is available for consultation for your organization as well:
  • CIS of Chicago Blog Post: Creating Engaging Curriculum (with Kelly Vaughn) Click Here
  • CIS of Chicago Blog Post: Amplify the Impact of Your Short Term Programming (with Nicole Ripley) Click Here


Amanda moving around room


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