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Second Grade Curriculum Development Analysis Essay Sample

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Second Grade Curriculum Development Analysis Essay Sample

Introduction

Second grade is one of the foundation years in a child education whether they are taught at home or sent to a conventional school. In the second grade the curiosity of the child is developed as well as the ability to understand complex phenomena. These are the early years and care must be taken to do it right from scratch or there will be nothing to build upon in later years. In the second grade, the following subjects are taught: English Language Arts (listening, speaking, writing, reading, spelling, grammar, usage, mechanics,); Core Literature Studies; Mathematics (numbers and numeration, computation and estimation, measurement, geometry, data collection and analysis, problem solving, patterns functions and algebra); Science (process skills, electricity, life science, earth science, health); Social studies (the Arctic, Mexico, 1890s Immigration; geography); Social Skills (civic social responsibility, communication, personal development); field trips and special events; Information Technology (or Technology Literacy); Library skills; Art; Music; Physical education; Guidance. Some schools add a language to their curriculum, French, Spanish or Chinese.

What is curriculum?

The word curriculum is used in many professions and in each of these it has different uses, meanings and applications. However in education curriculum is plan that guides the work of the teacher. According to Olivia (1997, p. 4) Curriculum is that,

… which is taught in schools; a set of subjects; content; a program of studies; a set of materials; a sequence of courses; a set of performance objectives; a course of study; is everything that goes on within the school; including extra-class activities; guidance; and interpersonal relationships; everything that is planned by school personnel; a series of experiences undergone by learners in a school; that which an individual learner experiences as a result of schooling.

Just as a gardener tends plants, teachers raise pupil and they need to have a well thought out scheme to enable them discharge this duty. On the other hand, Wilson (1990, p.1) notes that curriculum is,

Anything and everything that teaches a lesson, planned or otherwise. Humans are born learning, thus the learned curriculum actually encompasses a combination of all of the below — the hidden, null, written, political and societal etc.. Since students learn all the time through exposure and modeled behaviors, this means that they learn important social and emotional lessons from everyone who inhabits a school — from the janitorial staff, the secretary, the cafeteria workers, their peers, as well as from the deportment, conduct and attitudes expressed and modeled by their teachers. Many educators are unaware of the strong lessons imparted to youth by these everyday contacts.

The first question teachers must answer is what they should teach and why. Furthermore, how pupils should be taught is also important. The curriculum entails what should be taught and how it should be taught. This needs to be carefully composed to suit the needs of the pupils. Teaching methods are important because when they do not ease learning, a problem is created. Teaching methods vary from one grade to the other because of the different ages and levels of intelligence. In other words children below five are not taught in traditional schools the same way adolescents at taught. According to Egan (2003) curriculum refers to the content of what is being studied.  In order to explain the meaning of curriculum Egan (2003, p.10) unearths the Latin equivalent of the word to mean “a running,” “a race,” “course.” Thus, if curriculum is compared to running a race in pursuit of matters of the intellect, then one is tempted to ask, “How long is it?” and “what obstacles stand in the way?” Egan (2003, pp. 9, 10) broadens the meaning to curriculum when he argues that,

 confusion about what curriculum is, and thus what people concerned with it should do, involves argument about whether curriculum subsumes instruction —and thus whether a student of curriculum should also be a student of instructional methods —or whether curriculum involves all learning experiences, or refers simply to a blueprint for achieving restricted objectives in a school setting, or includes the statement of objectives as well, or also the evaluation of their achievement, and so on. The field seems to have no clear logical boundaries.

Opinion may vary about what curriculum is but on thing is certain that it is entails what should be taught and how it should be taught considering the characteristics of the students. Lundgren (1982) identifies two approaches to understanding curriculum. In the first approach curriculum has to do with formulation, i.e. developing and designing what will be taught in a particular subject or course. Secondly, curriculum is also concerned with implementing the task (realizing the goals that were set initially). The foremost goal of a teacher is to impart knowledge. This is achieved via a materials and appropriate teaching methods. On the other hand, the curriculum map sets out the time frame for teaching content- what will be achieved in a particular space of time.

Tool for curriculum analysis.

Curriculum analysis is done on the basis of the subject. One of the tools used in curriculum analysis is the Physical Education Curriculum analysis tool (PECAT). PECAT is useful to teachers and school districts to ensure simple, easy and reliable analysis of physical education curricula in the United States. PECAT can be customized to meet local expectations. PECAT is based on a form which needs to be filled. The form is filled by a “PECAT coordinator” in collaboration with the curriculum review team, physical education coordinators, professionals in curriculum writing, teachers of physical education, college specialists, parents, students, public health and exercise practitioners, health education teachers, and school administrators. After the form is filled scores are apportioned to each section using a PECAT score card. Thus the curriculum is analyzed. PECAT provides a wholesome review of physical education curriculum by allowing input from a broad spectrum of stake holders in the industry.

Considerations in curriculum analysis

In analyzing any curriculum in education for any grade, the following points need to be carefully considered.

Curriculum Standards and Expectations

The curriculum should meet as certain standard and hold potential to meet expectation. What are the goals that the curriculum will meet? Are these goals worthwhile? The curriculum should not fall below acceptable standards given the current social conditions and trends.

Quality measurement

The learning objectives need to be measurable in order to determine the progress of the pupils. When the learning objectives cannot be measured, it is difficult to ascertain the efficacy of the curriculum, teaching methods and efforts of the teacher.

Furthermore there should be a link between the methods of instruction and the content of the curriculum. Are the methods of instruction appropriate to teach the prescribed content?

Pupils should be given an opportunity to practice what is taught and be assessed appropriately. This way the teacher knows whether pupils grasp what is taught.

Time and space

The contents of the curriculum need to the taught in the time given. Thus take a look at the contents of the curriculum and compare it to the time given for instruction. Thus, determine whether the time is appropriate. Can it be taught in that time? Is it feasible?

School District

The curriculum drawn out by the school district is a starting point from which individual schools can build upon in order to make theirs unique according to the schools objectives. The school district provides the basics that are required. For example, the Fulton Community Schools curriculum meets the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) and the Quality Core Curriculum (QCC) standards for the State of Georgia and throughout the United States. Thus, is the curriculum in line with that which has been drawn by the school district?

Expectation and Promise

Does the curriculum hold potential to improve the performance of the pupils? Looking the curriculum will reveals whether it is properly design and can produce positive results. The ultimate goal of any curriculum is to derive benefits. One of these benefits is learning improvement.

Ideals and goals

Are the ideas and goals of the school reflected in the curriculum? What is unique about the curriculum? That which is unique about the curriculum needs to be examined as well. Will the unique aspects the curriculum be beneficial in the long run, or will it be detrimental? If they are beneficial and have been tested over time, then it is worth emulating by other schools and districts.

In analyzing curricula it is important to pay particular attention to the various subjects contained there in. Doing a broad analysis of the curriculum may not do justice to the peculiarity of each subject. The New Jersey Department of Education (2000, p.45) identifies the following criteria for judging

Is the science content current and accurately represented? Does the content emphasize scientific inquiry?

Is the content of the science program consistent with the National Science Education Standards?

Does the background material for teachers address the science content that is taught, as well as common misconceptions?

Is the treatment of content appropriate for the grade level?

Is the content free of bias?

Is the writing style for students and teachers interesting and engaging, and is scientific language used appropriately?

Is scientific vocabulary used to facilitate understanding rather than as an end in itself?

Is science represented as an enterprise connected to society?

A comparison of second grade curriculum from three (3) schools

Second Grade curricula from the following schools will be analyzed in this section: the Golden Brook School (in the Windham School District); Mystic Valley Regional Charter School; and the St. Louis Catholic School.

The second grade curriculum of the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School (MVRCS) has six subject areas namely: reading; mathematics; history; geography; science; character education; as well as music and visual arts. The curriculum of the MVRCS is structured in a matrix with details of content to be studied in each subject as well as the time frame for accomplishing work (in other words, a curriculum map). On the last page of the curriculum there is an explanation about the goals as well as the methods of instruction. For example, in reading it states the instruction will take place in small groups based on the skill of the pupils.

The second grade curriculum of the Golden Brook School (GBS) is written in a summary form with goals for each subject shortened into “broad goals.” For the second grade the GBS has 6 subjects namely: English Language Arts; Mathematics; Science; Social Studies; Unified Arts; and physical Education. The GBS second grade curriculum gives an insight into teaching methods while describing the content of each subject. For example, it talks about the use of a multi sensory approach in English Language Arts.

The second grade curriculum of the St. Louis Catholic School (SLCS) is very brief as it has only details about content, nothing about teaching methods. There are nine subjects in the curriculum namely: reading; writing/English; music; art; mathematics; religion; computer; social studies; and science. The curriculum of the SLCS has a bias because it includes religion as a subject while others do not. Obviously this bias is based on its religious inclination.

Goals are important for each subject in the curriculum. It is important to state expressly what the students will achieve in each subject given the content prescribed in the curriculum. McGuire (2008, pp. 1, 2) identifies goals for each subject in the second grade. The broad goals in English Language Arts and Mathematics are as follows:

…acquiring  the  interactive  skills and  processes  of  reading,  writing,  speaking,  listening, and  viewing  through   balanced  literacy  program  which  includes  the  study  of  literature and  the application  of  language arts.

To  provide  students  with  the  skills needed  to  appreciate  music  in  its  myriad  of  forms.   Through various musical activities, reading, mathematics, and problem- solving skills are developed.

Mystic Valley Charter School’s second grade curriculum analysis

The mission is to develop individual skill in the pupils.

School or Department Goals are to ensure that each pupil works at own pace.

Program Statement of Mission or Purpose is to pay attention to individual needs.

Program Curriculum is for second grade involving 6 subjects, namely: : reading; mathematics; history; geography; science; character education; as well as music and visual arts

Program Objectives focus on teaching each subject with an appropriate approach that meets the needs and nature of the subject.

There is no obvious relationship between the School or Department Goals to Mission expressed in the curriculum.

There is a strong relationship of Program Objectives (content) to School or Department Goals as detail is given about content and method of instruction.

Number and Percent of Program Objectives by School or

Department Goals cannot be ascertained as the curriculum is not very detailed.

There is a strong relationship of Course Learning Objectives to School or Department Goals

Number and Percent of Course Learning Objectives by School or

Department Goals cannot be ascertained as the curriculum is not very detailed.

Course Learning Objectives

Work at pupils pace

Attention to individuality

Broadening understanding

Inculcating moral, civic and intellectual virtues

Stimulate creativity

Observations

A well thought out curriculum, although brief but straight to the point none the less

Conclusion

Curriculum analysis is important in order to make sure that teachers do a proper job. Curriculum review teams will find the various tools used for curriculum analysis useful. Furthermore, second grade is a very important stage in a child’s education, thus the curriculum should be appropriately written and tailored to see them through.

References

Egan, Kieran (2003) “What is Curriculum” Journal of the Canadian Association of Curriculum Studies Vol. 1(1) spring

Fulton County Schools (2008) Learning Objectives: Grade 2 Atlanta, GA: Curriculum Department

Lundgren, U. (1982) Between hope and happening: Text and context of curriculum. Geelong: Deakin University Press

McGuire, Beth (2008) Golden Brook School: Second Grade Curriculum Windham, New Hampshire: Windham School District

New Jersey Department of Education (2000) “Analyzing and Selecting Science Curriculum Materials” New Jersey Science Curriculum Framework New Jersey: New Jersey Department of Education

Oliva, P. (1997) The curriculum: Theoretical dimensions. New York: Longman

Wilson, L. O. (1990) “Curriculum course packets” unpublished lecture notes in ED 721 & 726.

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