Content Area and Grade Level
The class is a fifth-grade level and consists of 21 children. Within the instructional setting, there are two English language learners, one gifted student, and one with dyslexia. The student with dyslexia has a problem with fluent reading, writing, and finds it hard to spell difficult words. The classroom uses the inclusion model, which means the special students learn alongside others. In the content area, the teacher teaches all the major curricula, which include science, language arts, mathematics, and social studies.
Within the instructional setting, curriculum often takes center place. According to Glanz (2004), the curriculum helps educators to identify the learning outcomes, standards and core curriculum competencies that learners must demonstrate for learning to be considered useful. At the content area, the intended learning outcome describes the knowledge and skills that the student should acquire at the end of the course or unit. In light of the content area, the expected results will be based on, use of learning experience to process and enhance their thinking skills. In reading and language arts the students should be able to use the appropriate vocabulary, apply different strategies to literary genres, write and punctuate correctly, speak and listen in accordance to the grade necessary skill. Along with that, the students must be able to manifest interest in the subject and change their attitude towards the overall learning experience. Similarly, the learners must demonstrate their understanding of the individual subjects’ important concepts and principles. In addition to the above, the learners must be able to communicate effectively based on the specific topic’s language and reasoning, where it is necessary. The last intended learning outcome focuses on the ability of the learner to demonstrate their awareness of every aspect of the individual subject and fully acknowledge its nature and relevance in their everyday life.
Within the instructional settings, core curriculum standards are not enough to drive the improvements intended for student achievement. In fact, standards describe the destination, but not the route for the teachers or schools. Thus, for the core curriculum standards to have an impact on the students, teachers must adopt a curriculum that aligns with the specific content area. A majority of educators already understand this, but they often do not have access to the right tools to steer the students in the right direction. According to Alphonso (2016), Eureka Math ensures that the teacher delivers a resourceful education in the full range of the content area, the conditions of the learner notwithstanding. In order to understand the appropriateness of the Eureka math curriculum within the content area, we first evaluate its curriculum coherence and design. Virtually, as Alphonso notes the curriculum allows the teacher to organize learning into carefully arranged and sequenced instructional modules. In the elementary level, the curriculum is known as a story of units. One of its primary advantages lies in its logical flow of mathematical concepts. The appropriateness of the Eureka Math in the fifth-grade level content area is built on the way new concepts are introduced, as students grasp the information in unit-based procedures to expand their existing knowledge. Learners understand one subject as a unit and learn how to relate the information they receive to their learning experience. As learning advances to more complex concepts, transferring units is easy. Similarly, by allowing learning to take place in small units, it allows the teacher the flexibility to assess if learners have understood the concepts thoroughly before moving on to the next level. In essence, the sequenced and organized learning in Eureka Math allows the fluency of component from basic learning to complex learning in small units where the students can easily understand.
Effectiveness of Eureka Math based on Curriculum Design Principles
Before adopting a curriculum design to a given content area, educators must first assess if curriculum adheres to the curriculum design principles. In a way, the Eureka Math curriculum adheres to the curriculum design principles through various ways. For instance, by allowing the organization of learning into small units, the teacher must first determine the learning objective, which is one of the principles of instructional design. Along with that, and as Gagne, R.M., Briggs, L. J., & Wager (1992) acknowledges an effective curriculum makes possible the planning of learning instructions into sequences. Practically, the design uses a sequential model where instructions are organized into small units. The other principle demands that the curriculum must be continuous, where instructional planning precedes the design of units that are smaller and detailed in character. This is evident in the logical flow of concepts used in the Eureka Math.
The Tyler model was developed in 1940 by Ralph Tyler and is often regarded as the ideal model of scientific approach to curriculum development. In the area of applying the model in the elaboration of the curriculum, the model first considers the purpose of the school (Tyler, 2013). By understanding the objective of the school, this helps to determine the educational experiences that will be provided to attain the purpose of the school. After defining the school purpose, Tyler elaborates that the next step involves paying more attention to the educational experiences to be provided and that are related to the objectives. The teacher must organize the best activities that will steer the students towards achieving the school purposes. The third step within the Tyler model deals with organizing the educational experiences for a systematic learning experience. Lastly, the model involves evaluating the learning experiences to see whether learning has been active.
Appropriateness of Tyler’s Rationale to Instructional Context
Before adopting curriculum design patterns, educators must evaluate the particular model about their specific content and determine its relevance. According to Gagne, Briggs, & Wager (1992) text on principles of the instructional design, for a curriculum design model to be termed as effective, it must consider certain characteristics. Such include helping the learning of the individual, ensure course sequence, affect human development, is conducted in a systematic approach, be based on knowledge of human beings, and allow for evaluation of the student. Within the instructional setting, Tyler’s Rationale allows learning to take place through the behavior of the learners (Tyler, 2013). In order to understand the appropriateness of Tyler’s Rationale within the content area, we need to analyze fully what the various steps within the model entail. For instance, the first step demands that the school must have a purpose. This acts as the guiding principle for the instructors in the context of student needs, in that the teacher is held responsible for what they teacher the student and can quickly give a rationale for the learning content and materials used. During learning, the model allows the teacher to design the instructional techniques and processes that actively holistically engage learners including the special needs students. As Tyler notes, proper instruction should be holistic for it to be remembered easily. Another reason that makes the Tyler Rational appropriate for the content area is the way it allows instructions to be tailored to student experiences. Ordinarily, the model allows the instructional strategies to be tied into the learner’s experiences by keeping it real within their past, present, and future experiences. In addition to the above, the model demands that the instructor must create authentic assessments. The evaluations allow the teacher to give the students meaningful assignments that ensure that the learners have understood the learning experience fully.
Strengths and weaknesses of the Tyler Rationale
One of the strengths of the Tyler Rationale model lies in its ability to allow the teacher to improvise how the students learn. The design also draws its strength in its clarity, usefulness, simplicity, and practicability. The model is also highly structured, systematic, performance based, and focused on outcomes. Alongside strengths, the Tyler Rationale model has a considerable number of weaknesses. Such include viewing curriculum development as a fixed process and fails to specify the sources of objectives as compared to the backward model. Another weakness is in its limiting aspects of what the student can learn and does not consider the evaluation of all learning outcomes.
The Backwards Design Model
In standard learning settings, instructors usually approach teaching in a forward design manner where learning activities take precedence and instructors design the assessment around them in a bid to draw connections to the learning goals. However, according to Wiggins & McTighe (2005), the backward curriculum design model considers defining the learning goals first before designing the learning activities. Usually, these learning goals involve the knowledge and skills that students must achieve after the course is completed. After defining the learning goals, the second goal involves considering the assessment. As Wiggins & McTighe assert, the backward suggests that instructors must first consider how students will be evaluated before designing the learning activities. After learning goals and evaluation methods have been determined, the teacher then goes on to design the learning activities and implement it within the instructional setting.
Appropriateness of the Backward Design within the Instructional Setting
Essentially, backward design innately encourages the intention of the teacher during design and continually helps the instructor to establish the purpose of learning before learning is implemented. These characteristics allow learning activities to focus on the needs of the students and ensure that understanding is achieved for effective learning (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). The other element that makes the backward design effective for the content area is because it allows transparency and explicit instructions. Virtually, by defining the learning goals, the teacher gets a better idea of what they want the students to attain from the learning experience. It thus eliminates the possibility of doing certain tasks that are not beneficial to the students. In essence, every instruction given by the teacher has a purpose that fits within the learning goals for effective learning and completion of the course or unit.
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Backward Design Model
The backward design model is usually considered purposeful task analysis allowing the instructor to design the learning activities on the predetermined learning goals. By default, this is one of its greatest strengths because by defining the learning goals and developing the learning activities around this, the teacher can easily focus on the student needs and ensure effective learning. Just like any other curriculum design theory, the greatest backward design model weakness is its inability to account for every other element of the lesson. It must also be used in combination of other educational tools for it to be effective.
Applying the backward Design Model to the Instructional Unit
Aligning the Backward Design model with the Eureka Math curriculum ensure that the teacher typically approaches the teaching experience concerning a series of activities. In Eureka Math, learning is in small bits; by aligning backward model to this curriculum, it will ensure the effectiveness of learning in several ways. For instance, backward allows the learning objectives to be determined at the beginning of the learning session. By aligning it with the Eureka Math, it means that the teacher can design the learning activities focused on the learning goals. Similarly, the backward design model simplifies the evaluation process with the use of the predefined learning goals.
Alphonso, T.B. (2016). Investigating curriculum use and its impact on teachers and their practice.LSU. Retrieved from: http://etd.lsu.edu/docs/available/etd-11112016-160112/unrestricted/alphonso_diss.pdf
Gagne, R.M., Briggs, L. J., & Wager, W. W. (1992). Principles of instructional design. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.
Glanz, J. (2004). Teaching 101: Classroom strategies for the beginning teacher. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin Press.
Tyler, R. W. (2013). Basic principles of curriculum and instruction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
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