Updated: Nov 18, 2021
Before you start reviewing materials, it’s important for you and your team to get clear on your priorities. inquirED has hosted conversations with district leaders about their priorities, and we’ve compiled those recordings below so you can hear directly from other district leaders about what they prioritized in their curriculum review process.
In this conversation, Susan Olezene, Director of Science, Social Studies, STEM, and Personalized Learning notes that flexibility and adaptability of the curriculum and curriculum vendors were extremely important. She also shared that her district had a goal of moving toward culturally sustaining instruction and they "needed a curriculum that leveraged the knowledge and experiences of their communities." They also sought the kind of curriculum that supports teachers in shifting their practice. After all, inquiry-based social studies would be new for most of the elementary teachers in their district. "The curriculum needs to support the shifts called for by C3 Framework," Olezene shared, "so they need to have professional learning along with the curriculum."
This conversation focused on the NEED for instructional time and high-quality instructional materials in social studies. Among other things, Shanti Elangovan, CEO of inquirED stressed the importance of customizability, "If the curriculum is complete before students' voices and context are included, then there's no way you can be inquiry-based or culturally responsive."
In this discussion, we focused on the why and how of implementing elementary social studies. We discussed starting with the “why,” which district leaders identified as an issue of equity. District leaders shared that if they provided teachers with high-quality instructional materials, then high-quality instruction wouldn’t be a hit-or-miss phenomenon, solely dependent upon what building a student was in, or the teachers they had. “We were looking to increase the access points to quality instruction,” said Patrick Snyder, Elementary Science & Social Studies Coordinator at Iowa City Public Schools. District leaders also discussed how to identify and communicate with stakeholders, leverage professional learning, and utilize teacher leaders in implementation.
Every district’s priorities will be slightly different. We hope listening to these conversations will be helpful in determining your district's priorities.