3 Reader Takeaways from Streamlining the Curriculum

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Authors Heidi Hayes Jacobs and Allison Zmuda sat down to discuss their book, Streamlining the Curriculum, nearly five months after its release. The book has made waves throughout the educational landscape, changing the way curriculum writers go about the curriculum design process.

What are the biggest takeaways Heidi and Allison are hearing from readers?

The Book Layout

The layout of the book itself mirrors the way they talk about writing curriculum.

“I have had so many people say, ‘Oh, my gosh, the way you laid it out in episodes with the visualization and the icons, I really was engaged,'” said Jacobs.

Instead of chapters, the book features “Episodes,” allowing readers to more easily follow the story of the book and illustrating the visual storytelling Jacobs and Zmuda talk about as it pertains to curriculum writing.

The Power of Authentic Assessments

Episode 7 of Streamlining the Curriculum takes a look at authentic assessments and how they bolster the curriculum narrative, listing four fundamental criteria for an authentic assessment to be compelling and worthy from a student perspective:

  1. The assessment provides a real opportunity for students to solve an actual problem.
  2. The assessment is anchored in a specific place and context.
  3. The assessment involves an authentic audience.
  4. The assessment involves a realistic time frame.

“As teachers are starting to design buckets or territories for the curriculum and the curriculum flow, I’ve been asking them to take a look at the long view and consider where might be a moment for authentic assessment,” said Zmuda.

“So the book provides the opportunity to see that those small moments start to transform the types of learning targets that teachers are also interested in designing in service to the level of action creation and investigation.”

Authenticity in Curriculum Writing

Beyond authentic assessments is taking a look at what authenticity actually looks like as it pertains to writing curriculum.

“It’s an easy word to throw around,” said Jacobs. “But taking a look at the a real opportunity in the life of a child or a young person to use what they’re learning in an actual context or situation has been a very big takeaway.”

Watch the full conversation between Jacobs and Zmuda on the Curriculum Storyboards YouTube channel:

About Curriculum Storyboards

Curriculum Storyboards is a concept that came out of the book, Streamlining the Curriculum: Using the Storyboard Approach to Frame Compelling Learning Journeys (ASCD, 2023), co-authored by Heidi Hayes Jacobs and Allison Zmuda. This book is changing the way curriculum writers are approaching their curriculum design, laying out content in storyboard form. 

Visit curriculum21.com to learn more about working with Heidi Hayes Jacobs or allisonzmuda.com to learn more about working with Allison Zmuda.