Curriculum Development

Curriculum Planning

The curriculum for our four-year Countdown to College program was developed by Backward Design, by asking: What do students need to know and be able to do to be successful as freshman in college?

From this brainstorming, reading, writing, and math emerged as key disciplines for instructional focus. In addition, the research on first-generation students, many of them second-language learners, suggested that vocabulary should be studied as a separate class, as well as integrated throughout the content classes. And because many entering freshman struggle with writing grammatically, grammar study was added to the vocabulary class.

The curriculum map that was developed in the first year of Countdown to College planning is summarized in the C2C Curriculum Overview PDF. A more detailed description of each discipline for Years 1 through 4 can be found in the C2C Curriculum Overview-2015 PDF. This latter document lists the major learning experiences (content) of each discipline, as well as the major strategies associated with each. The reader will note repetition of some key strategies, e.g., Reciprocal Teaching and Slash and Dash. Documents that explain these strategies are located in the curriculum folders in the Years 1 and 2 page or the Years 3 and 4 webpage.

Note: To access the online resources included in Curriculum Overview 2015, you will need to register and create a log in at Perspectives for a Diverse America.

As you read these documents, you will notice repeated references to four books that influenced our instructional decisions for reading, writing, and grammar instruction. All were written by practitioners with significant experience teaching minority students from low-income communities. We would highly recommend these books to universities or secondary schools wishing to replicate the academic success of our C2C graduates.

Anderson, Jeff. (2005). Mechanically inclined: Building grammar, usage, and style into writer’s workshop. Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.

Christianson, Linda. (2009). Teaching for joy and justice: Re-imaging the language arts classroom. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Rethinking Schools.

Noden, Harry. (2011). Image grammar: Teaching grammar as part of the writing process. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann Publishers.

Turner, Robin. (2008). Greater expectations: Teaching academic literacy to underrepresented students. Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.