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Lower Merion School District

Off-Canvas

Transformative Curriculum

LMSD offers a transformative interdisciplinary curriculum that is student-driven and fosters innovation and positive risk-taking. It transcends Standards, is inquiry-based, and connects the classroom to the world. Our curriculum encompasses diverse perspectives, promotes global awareness, and makes use of culturally responsive teaching and learning practices. This dynamic, adaptable curriculum provides vertically and horizontally aligned curricular experiences, ensuring every student learns from the connections across subject areas and receives a comprehensive and balanced education. Subject material is relevant to the world our children will enter in college and as adults. Innovation is the rule and not the exception.

What is the big idea?

We will shift from content area silos to a connected curriculum that prepares students to transfer knowledge and thinking strategies across disciplines. Our commitment to this will drive scheduling at elementary and secondary levels. We will shift traditional structures in the school day and school year to flexible and fluid time periods that allow students to explore relevant content and interests without the barriers of class periods, walls or buildings.

Why do we need to do this?

For learning to be relevant and reflective of the world we live in today, we need to draw upon - and maximize the opportunities that the world affords. Instead of rigid standards, we should be talking about limitless possibilities. Instead of individual, isolated subjects, we should be thinking about interconnected systems. The next great advances - and the solutions to our most pressing challenges - won't come from a textbook, they'll come from a generation that understands the people, places and systems around them and thoughtfully, passionately embraces the pursuit of knowledge.

How will we do this?

  • Expand curricular experiences outside of the school building and the school day
  • Embed an inquiry-based/thinking process approach across curriculum; thinking within one discipline (e.g. historians or scientists) transfers to others
  • Infuse literacy, science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics across the curriculum in all grade levels
  • Apply a social justice lens to themes in the curriculum
  • Apply culturally proficient teaching and learning practices that help students to gain different types of capital
  • Create incremental service learning opportunities for students leading to a year-long capstone project
  • Create opportunities for all LMSD students to engage in learning with students from other cultures
  • Develop flexible, fluid scheduling and calendars
  • Provide professional learning opportunities

How will we measure progress?

  • A system of curriculum review that embeds incremental service learning opportunities, contextualizes why content matters in the community and world and incorporates use of external experts and resources
  • Educators' observable and documented growth in the classroom environment and instruction domains
  • Student self-reflection of growth
  • Student surveys and exit interviews at each level
  • A system to increase opportunities for LMSD students to learn with students from other cultures
  • A system of schedule review to determine how the schedule supports the goals of this plan
  • Evaluations of professional learning

Who will be responsible?

Superintendent and Superintendent's designees

How will we know we have moved the District forward?

  • A revised and expanded curriculum that is vertically and horizontally aligned and a schedule that supports this
  • Expanded curricular experiences outside of the school building and the school day
  • Students with well-developed skills
  • Excellent global awareness and cultural competency for each student
  • Strong teamwork and complex problem-solving skills for each student; students' transfer of knowledge to novel situations.

Updates

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Reflections

"One way to help students transfer their learning is to scaffold it so they can gradually take responsibility for learning and self-monitor and self-advocate more often because they are more self-aware."

-Math Specialist, Elementary School

"Inquiry is a large part of the science curriculum and is driven by labs and hands-on activities...Students must develop a problem solving method with their lab partner to test their ideas."

-Chemistry teacher, High School

"The community is the place where learning comes to life. When we’re in the community on field trips, the real world helps students to make deeper and broader connections."

-Grade 4 Teacher, Elementary School

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