Curriculum as a Tool for Changing Teacher Practice

Curriculum is often at the center of school and district efforts to transition to the new, more rigorous Common Core State Standards. These new adoptions are taken on with the hope that the new curriculum will ensure students develop skills and learn content that will ready them for the challenges ahead. Research has shown that in many respects the adoption of quality curricular materials can be a significant accelerator for student achievement. Because curriculum lives at the intersection of teacher and student experience, the usefulness of curriculum cannot be just for student achievement gains alone. Curricular materials, expert support for collaboration, and dedicated time for content-specific professional learning are also cited as key indicators of an increase in professional learning among teachers. Curriculum therefore is not just a tool for improving student outcomes, but also a tool for changing teacher practice. This action research looks at the impact that a newly adopted curriculum and specific district and school supports had on teacher’s ability to support students to elaborate in written and oral responses, to engage with higher order thinking tasks, and use protocols to support collaborative student work.

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