Tennessee Curriculum Center

Develop Coherent Plans

Curriculum coherence is vital and is associated with high-performing systems…A system is regarded as 'coherent' when the national curriculum content, textbooks, teaching content, pedagogy, assessment, and drivers are all aligned and reinforce one another.
Tim Oates, 2007

When something adheres it sticks fast. Things that cohere have been naturally or logically united to form a whole. When the educational goal of building a coherent K-12 curriculum has been met, the likelihood is strong that new understandings will adhere to students’ minds. In this light, educators have long known that a common characteristic of effective curricula is that they show careful articulation among key concepts both within and across grades. This only happens when the educational community studies the research base to determine how deep understanding unfolds through repeated exposure to topics over time at successively higher levels of complexity and increasing degrees of sophistication. This is the rationale for scaffolded instruction wherein a more knowledgeable teacher provides carefully crafted supports that guide the learners’ development. Scaffolded learning experiences enable students to build on prior knowledge and assimilate new information.

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Add to Your Understanding

Add To Your Understanding

Beyond Standards: Coherence
This article by the president of the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics describes the characteristics of coherent instructional plans that build on students’ prior knowledge and skills, help them to recognize connections within mathematics, and gain facility in using multiple representations of concepts, and develop problem-solving skills.
Achieving Excellence...through Scaffolding
This paper offers practical dimensions and examples of how scaffolding can be implemented and how learners can be supported during the processes of constructivist inquiry.
Equipped for the Future
Scaffolding is the assistance provided to students who are not quite ready to accomplish a task independently. Like the supports that construction workers use on buildings, scaffolding is intended to be temporary. As students develop competence, the scaffolding is gradually reduced until the student can use their skills independently.
Literacy Learning Progressions
This report from New Zealand explains how teachers can ensure that their students develop the literacy expertise to engage with the curriculum at increasing levels of complexity and with increasing independence.
NSDL Science Literacy Maps
Developed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, these maps are tools for teachers and students to find resources that relate to specific science and math concepts. The maps illustrate connections between concepts as well as how concepts build upon one another across grade levels.
Ready, Set, SCIENCE!
This book provides a detailed rationale for using learning progressions to develop K-12 instructional frameworks.
Learning Progressions: Supporting Instruction and Formative Assessment
This paper explains why teachers should understand how learning develops in any particular knowledge domain so that they are able to locate students’ current learning status and decide on pedagogical actions to move students’ learning forward. Learning progressions provide the big picture of what is to be learned, support instructional planning, and serve as a touchstone for formative assessment.
Taking Science to School
This free download of a book by the National Academy of Sciences draws on a vast array of work from neuroscience to classroom observation to provide a comprehensive picture of what we know about teaching and learning science from kindergarten through eighth grade.
Learning Progressions to Support Coherence Curricula in Instructional Material, Instruction and Assessment Design
This paper describes how tested learning progressions can be used to design coherent instructional materials.
Why Curriculum Coherence Matters for Kids
This blog entry considers teacher autonomy in light of the need for a carefully articulated K-12 set of learning experiences.
Learning Progressions for Adult Numeracy
The information in this book provides a framework that shows what adult learners know and can do at successive points as they develop their expertise in numeracy learning.
Using Learning Progressions to Define ‘Good Enough’ Performance for the Alternate Assessment
This PowerPoint presentation by the National Center for Assessment describes learning progressions and how they can be used to provide the framework for an assessment system.
Add to Your Instructional Repertoire

Add to Your Instructional Repertoire

Common Core Instructional Shifts
This resource from EngageNY describes the six instructional shifts needed to effectively implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in ELA/Literacy and the six shifts to implement them in Math.
Conceptual Shifts in Next Generation Science Standards
The NGSS framework is designed to “help realize a vision for education in the sciences and engineering in which students, over multiple years of school, actively engage in scientific and engineering practices and apply crosscutting concepts to deepen their understanding of the core ideas in these fields.”
Unpacking Standards
This article shares research on unpacking standards, provides a process for school districts to follow, and shares next steps after teachers have analyzed these standards.
Unpacking Common Core State Standards for ELA and Mathematics
This resource developed by the North Carolina Department of Education demonstrates at a fine-grained level the knowledge and skills students are expected to master at a particular grade.
The Educator’s Guide to Standards Insight; Common Core Standards Unpacked
Standards Insight was developed to give educators a tool for in depth investigation of the Common Core State Standards. The CCSS are "unpacked" or dissected, identifying specific knowledge, skills, vocabulary, understandings, and evidence of student attainment for each standard.
From Now On: Scaffolding for Success
This article reviews eight characteristics of instructional scaffolding.
Tools and Strategies for Developing and Using Learning Progressions
This PowerPoint presentation discusses how information on learning progressions can be used to plan and modify instruction and develop quality assessments.
Tracing a Prospective Learning Progression for Developing Understanding of Evolution
This paper offers a research-based perspective for a unit on evolutionary change.
Learning Progression for the Nature of Matter
These curriculum materials are based on learning progressions research on the topic of matter.
Mapping a Coherent Learning Progression for the Molecular Basis of Heredity
These curriculum materials are based on learning progressions research on molecular basis of heredity.
Apps for Digital Storytelling
This collection of mobile apps will help get teachers started with digital storytelling.
Conceptual Stories
The conceptual story begins with unifying concepts and benchmarks that students should learn during a science unit. A flow chart shows each lesson, the investigation experience, and the sub-concept that each lesson helps build. Lessons are grouped in "conceptual chunks," at the end of which are natural places to assess the students' developing understanding.
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iCreate Home Edition
Based on the theory of Multiple Intelligence proposed by Dr. Howard Gardner, we know that kids start knowing about the world from things around them. iCreate Home Edition helps 2-7 years old kids to develop several kinds of intelligence.
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