What is a Curriculum Model?

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  • 0:01 Curriculum Models Explained
  • 1:39 Curriculum Model Basics
  • 2:26 Product and Process Models
  • 3:41 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Curriculum models are a tool used by educators. Much is made of their development and implementation, but does anyone actually know what one is? Let's take a look at curriculum models and see what all the buzz is about.

Curriculum Models Explained

To understand curriculum models, let's get on the same page about what curriculum means. When we talk about curriculum in today's classrooms and schools, we mean the stuff kids are learning. It is the content, mostly, but also the planning put into the subject matter: goals and objectives, assessments, and sequencing. Schools and districts create a curriculum guide, a framework that details what, how, and when instruction occurs. The primary use of a curriculum guide is to give educators a uniform methodology so all students have the same opportunities to learn.

Before determining what goes into the guide, it is necessary to determine what type of curriculum guide to use. A curriculum guide can have several different formats, or models. A curriculum model, then, is the tool that helps those who write and develop curriculum guides. They provide a reason for the choices made in teaching.

Confusing? Think of it like a house. There are many different types, or models, of houses available: split level, two story, or ranch. These models don't predetermine specifics necessary to choosing a house, like how many bedrooms or how large the kitchen is. Those details are what you choose based on your needs. The model of the house is chosen based on your personal style or desire. In the same way, a curriculum model is the outlier. It is based on several factors that we'll get into soon. Once a model is chosen, the curriculum guide, or specifics (bedrooms) can be determined based on actual needs. Got it? Good. Let's move on.

Curriculum Model Basics

Curriculum models have five areas they define:

  1. Focus- subject or student. Where is the emphasis?
  2. Approach - traditional or modern. What type of instruction will be used?
  3. Content - topic based or content based. How will units or strands be written?
  4. Process - formative or summative. How will assessments be used?
  5. Structure - system, linear or cyclical. How often does the curriculum get reviewed?

Keep in mind most curriculum models have already been developed. Most times, when curriculum writing teams come together, they take a look at existing models and weigh them against their needs before choosing the best. For example, a newly opened innovative school would look for a model that's approach is modern.

Product and Process Models

Although there are several models for curriculum, the two most recognizable are the product model and the process model.

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