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Summary of the Six Principles of Effective Curriculum Design

  1. Big Ideas: Limit the number of new concepts introduced in a lesson, and focus first on the most basic concepts before advancing to the more complex concepts. Be sure that students understand one concept before introducing the second. For example, reserve teaching synonyms until students are firm on the basic concept. The concepts of comparatives and superlatives should be withheld until the basic concepts are clearly established. When introducing comparatives and superlatives, introduce comparatives first; then, after students consistently use comparatives, introduce superlatives.

  2. Conspicuous Strategies: Use clear models to teach basic concepts. Use simple language.

  3. Mediated Scaffolding: Limit the number of concepts introduced, and separate those that are likely to be confused. To reduce the language demands, refrain from introducing two new and unfamiliar labels in one day. It is also important to provide sufficient guided practice for the group before progressing to individual turns.

  4. Strategic Integration: When the basic concepts are reliably known by learners, introduce comparative and superlative concepts strategically to build higher-order skills. Higher-order skills will not be useful or reliable if the basic concepts are not firm.

  5. Judicious Review: To really "know" a concept students must use it frequently and in a variety of concepts. Lessons following the initial lesson should apply new concepts to build up the students' ability to remember and recall the concepts.

  6. Primed Background Knowledge: A frequent limitation of early language programs is using language that learners may not understand. If the objective of the lesson is to introduce the concept big and little, then directions that tell children we will "compare" objects may not be meaningful. Examine the instructional language carefully to determine whether it will need to be simplified. It is also important to ensure that students have the prerequisite knowledge before using that knowledge in more complex contexts.

*Excerpted from Toward Successful Inclusion of Students with Disabilities: The Architecture of Instruction by Edward J. Kameenui, and Deborah Simmons(1999).

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Council for Exceptional Children

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