Imagine being charged with creating a computer technology program for grades K-8 from scratch. Where would you begin? With the students? With the teachers? With the state and national standards? With someone else’s curriculum? With the high school curriculum? There are many things to consider when developing curriculum that it is hard to know what the best plan of attack is.
Vision. Defining your vision and the school’s vision of what a computer technology program looks like is key. The vision will be the driving force in creating activities that continuously build skills throughout the grades, year after year. Decide what skills and applications are necessary for students to learn in order to use the technology in a productive manner. These skills and applications will encompass a wide variety programs, tools, and experiences. It may be helpful to categorize them. Consult with local high schools to find out what technological skills are expected of the students. Ensure that the program being designed will meet those requirements or go above and beyond them.
Content Area Curriculum. It is important to then take stock of what is taught at each grade level in each subject area. Identify areas where integration and collaboration can take place. Work with teachers on projects and topics to integrate technology into the existing school curriculum. This will allow the computer to be used for productivity, creativity, and presentation. This reinforces the idea that the computer is a tool that can be used for reviewing content and creating relevant artifacts that show their knowledge.
Standards. Reviewing your state standards along with the updated national standards gives you a broad idea of what skills students are expected to have. When creating a program and curriculum, these standards must all be accounted for in each grade level. The National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S) give a sound outline to aid in ensuring that students are able to use technology in multiple manners, such as: collaboration, communication, presentation, productivity, creativity, problem solving, etc. From these standards, essential questions can be created in order to begin a structure in which to build the activities within the curriculum and to create benchmarks for assessment.
While implementing a new program, the curriculum will naturally need to take on several iterations over the first few years, thus evolving before your eyes. It takes time to build the basic skills that students need to know. By the third or fourth year, there will be a solid foundation in place to allow for each grade level to lead into the next. Because of the evolving nature of creating a program and rapid technological advances, the most important thing to remember is that it is necessary to write the curriculum in a manner that allows for flexibility and growth.