Interweaving the Curriculum

My talk at ResearchEd Conferences this year has been on Interweaving the Curriculum. Slides are at the bottom of this post.

The ideas of retrieval and spaced practice are increasingly being used as lesson planning considerations and are used to help support and advise pupils when it comes to revision and independent study. In many cases these practices are used as distinct parts of a lesson such as a retrieval quiz starter or using homework tasks that focus on previous topics.

I am interested in taking these a step further and looking at how they can be used to help structure a curriculum where topics don’t sit in seperate silos, each one filled before moving on, but instead weave together to make something bigger than the sum of its parts.

The analogy I reach for is sourdough bread. In this form of baking you make your dough but before shaping it into a loaf you remove a little of it to go into the starter of the next batch. A little of this first loaf then becomes incorportated into the second. You then repeat this process and so the third loaf contains some of the first two loaves and so on. This is how I see our curriculum. I want our pupils using what we study in the first week to not only recall it but to use it to make sense of future topics. The topic on tectonics feeds into the one on shaping the landscape, the one on East Africa and the one of Haiti. They are always looking back to make sense of where they are going next.

Information that sits in isolation is hard to recall and so hard to use. I want to make the links between topics explicit to my pupils and the first step in achieving this is to make sure they are explicit for me and the rest of the department. Our curriculum plan needs to be a road map so that we can plan to start signposing ideas they will come to later. We want to use the same places, images and language throughout our journey so that it starts to feel familair.

Teach Like Nobody’s Watching is available now.

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