Log in

Curriculum design and review | An Enabling e-Learning and NZC event

Do students at your school experience a curriculum that excites and challenges them?  Is it future focused and inclusive? Does it affirm New Zealand’s unique bicultural identity while also celebrating the multicultural make up of your school?

Curriculum under construction Curriculum design and review is an ongoing process but it doesn’t need to be an onerous one. In fact, it can be a time to refocus and reconsider the changing needs and interests of your students and local community. It’s not something that is done ‘on its own’ as it is linked with everything else that your school may be currently focusing on … professional learning, inquiry, appraisal processes, classroom programmes as well as wider school structures. Nor is there a time when it is actually ‘done’ as one primary principal discovered: "The best thing we did was not say, "We're finished", as different aspects of practice were reviewed. Staff now see constantly evolving approaches as a hallmark of educational practice."

And it can be FUN, an opportunity to regather as a staff and collaborate with students and whānau, to be innovative and responsive. To take RISKS. We are all learners and, as such, we can all make mistakes. Effective leadership is essential in building an environment based on trust where teachers develop a growth mindset. Are teachers encouraged to extend their thinking and be challenged at your school? Do you ask yourselves why you are doing what you are doing? 

Redesigning your curriculum can also be a way of checking that students and learning are the focus of your school. Whatever decisions you make ask yourself “how does this benefit the learner? How will this make a difference?” To do this effectively we need to know who our learners are -  what their learning needs are, what interests them and gets them excited. Ask them. Talk to their parents. Collect and analyse assessment data. Look at your teaching and learning programmes. What changes will you make based on your learners’ needs?

There is no ‘one way’ to redesign your curriculum. Your school is unique and therefore your curriculum should reflect this. How is your school different to other schools? How does it reflect your local community and culture?

Matakohe: One school's experience Matakohe

Please note: when you click on this it will take you directly to the NZC Online website

It is important to have a clear vision co-created by everyone who has an interest in your students, including the students themselves. Building a graduate profile will help you to know if you’ve made a positive difference in students’ lives by the time they leave your school.

Where are the opportunities to learn new and exciting things in your school curriculum?

What are your experiences in redesigning your curriculum that you can share? What do you see as a next step for you personally and/ or for your school? What would you like to learn from others?

NZC Online: Reviewing your curriculum

Image source: Pixabay

Connected Educator Month  |  October 2014


  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 30 Oct 2014 3:36pm ()

    Thank you for this rich blog post Chris. It’s so great to have the voice of a NZC facilitator, to help guide us in our thinking. Your post is a great reminder about how flexible and open to interpretation the NZC is - where schools can (and are) redefining their curriculum for an ever-changing school/community culture.

    No one year is ever the same and school communities’ needs are always shifting, which encourages us to think about ways we can invite students and the wider community to have input into those things that matter most in our curriculum.

    A couple of ‘things’ have struck a chord with me lately as I’ve been involved in some powerful PLD over the last month – both online and off.

    1. Steve Bargh shared how NZQA is making a move towards digital assessment practices and in the LIVE webinar, highlighted the need for educators to continue to build comprehension around how society has changed and new understandings about knowledge. IE Knowledge is not a fixed construct, it involves metacognitive processes that apply thinking and problem solving, which is vital for the future of our young people. 

    Steve elaborated that one day soon, our students may be completing assessment tasks/examinations that include access to the Internet. The question remains...How does the delivery of fixed knowledge/content fit onto the curriculum, if students can immediately research an answer on the Internet?

    He went on to explain (and I’m paraphrasing here) that assessment tasks would be authentic, meaningful with a focus on higher order metacognitive thinking/problem solving skills. For example, rather than asking, Who was the president of a certain country in the year XXX, the question might be, What country leader polarised their people because of their political actions? Open question = multiple answers that require synthesis and analysis.

    2. The other influence for me, was listening to the webinar on NZCER's Key Competencies for the Future with Rachel Bolstad, Sue McDowall and Sally Boyd, and even though I haven't read the book yet, it really struck a chord with me, especially in regards to ideas about:

    • What 'learning to learn' means?
    • What students will need to be capable of in their futures?
    • What we can do to help the next generation become future builders, not just future copers?

    Screenshot from Key Competencies for the Future webinar

    As well as underpinning ideas around:

    • Wicked problems: Problems worth solving – what will our children be facing in the real world
    • Key competencies to help cope in world of wicked problems
    • Owning/changing little things around us in our own contexts
    • Influence of technologies

    For more, see the Connected Educator thread, Book Group #1: Key Competencies for the Future, with NZCER | from 3rd October 

    Finally, what has excited me over this time, is how NZ educators are reflecting on these perspectives too.

    I’m inspired by these two stories and would love to hear how other schools have gone about ‘redefining’ their curriculum to reflect a rich, authentic curriculum - where problem solving becomes an integral part of a thinking curriculum? Please feel free to [INSERT YOUR STORY HERE] >>> 

  • Vivita Rabo (View all users posts) 31 Oct 2014 3:25pm ()

    Thank you Tessa :) I am also in the process of encouraging my fellow colleagues who are also Teachers of the Deaf to join VLN and also out in their thoughts and reflections in these on-line discussions. Creating a localised curriculum as you have mentioned encourages our learners to be realize the true purpose and meaning of learning. Being a Teacher of the Deaf/Resource Teacher of the Deaf, this would call for working in close collaboration with mainstream teachers and in stating this I would like to share my experiences. We have more than 10 students mainstreamed in a Junior College here in Auckland where I work as a Teacher of the Deaf. The school in which we are part of with Kelston Deaf Education Centre believes in the use of innovative approaches in authentic, engaging and relevant contexts in a digital intensive environment. The students are involved in various authentic learning experiences in their different learning areas such as Math, English, Science. This includes them doing research, planning, designing and creating solutions to real life problems. During the course of this year, our students have been immersed in authentic learning activities and assessments that they have not only enjoyed but could connect their learning with the real world. Because students with hearing impairment are visual and kinesthetic learners, 'localising ' the curriculum becomes inclusive and accommodating to their learning styles and the beauty of this is our NZ Curriculum allows us teachers/educators to do this! These are some wonderful moments during the course of this year in which our deaf students were part of.

    In Year 7 Science, our Science teacher designed a series of lessons that focused on building knowledge around ecosystems and part of this learning expanded to understanding of water and the different measures of water quality used in NZ. The students went down to the stream beside the school to make sense of this all as well as the Biotic and Abiotic factors of the stream. Their assessment required them to assess the health of the stream so they took their equipment to the stream and did measures of the water quality according to the Wai Care SOSMART Assessment Recording systems. They documented their learning at various points (planning, actual experiments, collecting/collating of data from water quality measures, tabulating results and drawing conclusions on the health of the stream.

    Our students with hearing impairment were actively involved with their Global Studies project earlier this year in which they were learning about human rights violation, its effects in society and the possible actions taken globally. They planned a social action that they carried out in school. They designed advertisements re: social action and made everyone in the school aware of what they planned to do to help the refugees, all funds they raised were sent to the Refugees Association.

    An exciting one that the students and I experienced was learning about Physics concepts through a “Kart Physics Experiment that our Science teacher designed. As a teacher, I thought it was the one of the most engaging, authentic and meaningful Science lesson that I have come across in the school and most importantly it sort of made sense of technical concepts such as acceleration, force, gravity, kinetic energy, they all came alive! Well, as part of their Physics assessment, the students including our four deaf students rode on a kart down our field (safe), it was recorded on video, they had trial rides and using their distance and time, they calculated the velocity of the kart over time, deceleration, frictional force stopping the kart, work done by the friction, power by the friction kinetic energy at multiple points, created multitudes of graphs digitally and discussed the results.

    As you mentioned Tessa, moving away from that 'retention of knowledge' assessments to more authentic ones, I believe works well with our students that have hearing loss, I reckon it would not create that 'dreadful' vibe that we sometimes get from the students regarding exams :)

  • Chris McLean (View all users posts) 31 Oct 2014 3:50pm ()

    How wonderful to hear about the fabulous work you are doing with your Year 7 students Vivita! You've hit the nail on the head ... "the use of innovative approaches in authentic, engaging and relevant contexts in a digital intensive environment". And that is such a lovely fit with Wicked problems: Problems worth solving which Tessa referred to ... NZCER's Key Competencies for the Future.

    I'd love to hear what others are doing to 'localise' your curriculum so learning is authentic, engaging and relevant.


Join this group to contribute to discussions.

e-Learning: Leadership

e-Learning: Leadership

Exploring leadership for change, vision, policy and strategy that integrates ICTs into learning.