Curriculum Implementation

Implement a new curriculum strategically to support rigorous student-centered learning

About Curriculum Implementation

In order to successfully implement a new curriculum, regardless of subject area, there are certain things that teachers and school administrators should keep in mind in order to understand the curriculum and how it can help to build student-centered practices in their classrooms. First, the teachers and administrators should familiarize themselves with the design principles of the curriculum to understand the structure, purpose, and goals of the curriculum. Then, the teachers should engage in backwards planning from unit assessments in order to determine the key concepts, topics, and/or standards that students are to master in each unit. Finally, teachers and administrators should use student data and observations to provide personalized support for students within the lesson structures. 

Once they understand the curriculum, teachers should consider their students' specific strengths, interests, and areas for growth. This domain supports teachers to employ student-centered routines and instructional strategies and personalize the curriculum using flexible grouping, data-driven feedback, and student ownership. 

Why it's important

Implementing a new curriculum with fidelity can be challenging for teachers and school leaders. Teachers may have a hard time trusting that the new curriculum will be as effective for their students as their old practices. Supporting teachers to understand the design principles, structure, and content of the new curriculum as well as supporting them to engage in backwards planning helps to build teachers' comfort and confidence in implementing the curriculum. Also, when administrators effectively facilitate and support the curriculum implementation, they can ensure that teachers feel confident in their implementation and that students experience a positive impact from the new curriculum. 

What success looks like

In classrooms in which curriculums are successfully implemented, teachers are: 

  • familiar with the design principles and structure of the curriculum 
  • engaging in backwards planning from assessments to identify key understandings and learnings in each unit and in each lesson
  • sharing key learning targets with students for each lesson based on the key understandings of the unit
  • frequently using student-centered routines and procedures in daily lessons
  • Personalizing instruction using formative data analysis, flexible grouping, targeted feedback, and individualized support and scaffolds engaging students in their own learning by employing student-centered lesson structures 

Featured Strategies

Explore these templates to begin the process of differentiated planning in your classroom
Explore these templates to begin the process of differentiated planning in your classroom
Students need an inclusive curriculum in order to enjoy a full learning experience
Students need an inclusive curriculum in order to enjoy a full learning experience
Identifying and celebrating strengths equips students to effectively adopt a growth mindset and set learning goals
Identifying and celebrating strengths equips students to effectively adopt a growth mindset and set learning goals

Growth Areas

BetterLesson growth areas are targeted goals for growth in a learning domain through BetterLesson Coaching. Learn more about BetterLesson Coaching.
I understand the design principles of the curriculum and how they support the curriculum structure
I strategically plan instruction to ensure students' learning experience is aligned with key understandings, objectives, standards, and assessments
I utilize student-centered routines, instructional practices, and unit and lesson structures that engage students as active participants in their own learning
I personalize instruction within the curriculum using flexible grouping, formative data analysis, personalized feedback, and individual learning progressions

Additional Reading

BetterLesson Blog Posts: 

External Resources:

  • Wiggins, Grant, and McTighe, Jay. (1998). Backward Design. In Understanding by Design (pp. 13-34). ASCD.
  • Bowen, Ryan S., (2017). Understanding by Design. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching.
  • Nevenglosky, Erica A., Cale, Chris, and Aguilar, Sunddip Pansear. Barriers to effective curriculum implementation. Research in Higher Education, Volume 36.
  • Hord, Shirley M., and Leslie Huling-Austin. “Effective Curriculum Implementation: Some Promising New Insights.” The Elementary School Journal, vol. 87, no. 1, 1986, pp. 97–115. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1001488.

How BetterLesson Can Help

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