Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Levy, S. (1996). Starting from scratch: One classroom builds its own curriculum. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

This book tells the story of several original projects undertaken by Levy and his elementary students. He begins with a discussion of the obstructions to a dynamic curriculum: the fragmentation of subject matter; the abstraction of knowledge; our reliance on prepared textbooks and learning kits; and the expectation that we will cover vast areas of content. He describes his teaching approach to curriculum in terms of "finding the genius" in the topic to be taught. He outlines the process and provides examples. The process of developing curriculum can be approached from an alternative perspective that involves the following elements: (1) topic; (2) the genius of the topic (what is essential, unique, special about the topic?); (3) illustrations (what are the best examples to express the genius of the topic?); (4) experiences (what are the children's experiences of the topic?); (5) questions (what questions will help them connect their experiences with the essence of the topic?); (6) story (how can the content be put into a story?); (7) activities (what new experiences should the students have?); (8) skills and habits (what do I want to teach?); (9) evaluation (how will I know what they understand?). Levy provides extended examples of projects that embody this process. Examples include an exploration of the impact of a local bike path on their community, an imaginative look at the qualities of numbers, and others.

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