Saturday, July 23, 2011

Designing Your Own Curriculum

As many of you know, I've always designed my own curriculum's for the boys. It's not that difficult and it's waaaay cheaper than a pre-packaged curriculum. The only things I pay for are and which are great for printables I can't find for free or make myself. Here's the general idea of how I go about designing my own curriculum's -

  1. I start my curriculum matrix using the books I have - "What Your ____ Grader Needs To Know", HS Year by Year, etc. I make a large spread sheet for the whole curriculum where I put all the lesson 'topics'
  2. I search the web for free matrix from other boards of ed on what is expected for the spread of grades I'll be teaching (my kids are not in any 1 grade, they advance subject by subject as necessary)these are added, or adjust the curriculum spread sheet.
  3. I make a general matrix of the expectations based on those printouts from #1 & 2. To do this, I usually write in a  list of resourcces for each lesson.
  4. I add or subtract from that matrix based on my own knowledge of my boys - do I think they need more challenge, what units I want to add in, etc.
  5. I organize the Curriculum Matrix by month - Make a plan of how I can overlap lessons. It's very easy to go overboard and plan this insane curriculum. But, especially with multiple students, there are only so many hours and so many lessons you can do at once (there's also only 1 of me, but 2 of them). So I figure out how I can teach 1 lesson for different grade levels, at the same time - this means sometimes I might be teaching my youngest at a much higher grade level (then just making worksheets or lapbooks for his appropriate levels)
  6. I make a plan of how I can combine lesson subjects. Again it can get overwhelming for the kids and me if I have to teach 12 subjects in a given day -- so I'll try to look at a lesson and try to think of how I can work multiple subjects from it - -for instance, The Trans-Continental Railroad, I'll search for ways engineers measured the distance between tracks and stations or whatever - MATH, then I'll find a Magic Tree House book that touches on it - READING, the kids can research which towns were most affected by the railroad and make a Travel By Rail brochure (GEOGRAPHY/HISTORY)....yes this lesson would take a few days, but I would not have to keep switching gears between subjects.
  7. I search the web for resources - not just worksheets but research and teaching materials as well.
  8. .I usually print EVERYTHING and organize it by month, so on the last day of the month (during the school year) I grab the next month's folder and organize it into 'week' folders, then on Friday, I take each week folder and separate it into 'day' boxes (which include manipulative's and such) so the kids can just grab that day's box and we're set. (Kinda like work boxes, but a little different). This organization is based on the Month Matrix.
  9. Then I design any lapbooks we may need (I like to do a couple a month) and I get the boys' input on what they want their reading lists to be, and we choose our night-time reading books (I read these aloud).
  10. Voila, all done!