With the adoption of the Common Core Standards just around the corner, school districts are faced with the challenge of aligning their current curriculum with new core standards. One Kansas school district found a software solution to help them overcome this challenge.
“We needed something that could quickly incorporate new state and national standards into our curriculum without creating confusion,” said Assistant Superintendent of Basehor-Linwood, Mike Boyd.
Mike Boyd, Assistant Superintendent
Over the past year, more than 175 school districts in Wisconsin and Missouri have chosen BuildYourOwnCurriculum (BYOC) to develop, align and manage their curriculum. Basehor-Linwood School District is the first district in the state of Kansas to select BuildYourOwnCurriculum to be their district’s curriculum management solution.
“It was by a stroke of luck that we found BYOC. We had no idea that this type of software was even available,” said Boyd, “BuildYourOwnCurriculum is catering specifically to our needs – we can easily adjust our curriculum to fit common and national standards as well as address our own curriculum goals.”
Teaching staff appreciates comprehensive features
According to Boyd, BuildYourOwnCurriculum’s two most appealing features are its compatibility and flexibility, “I was surprised by how comprehensive and easy it is to use. You can move back and forth between Common Core and state standards, and download or share lessons. The features have really added to our teacher buy-in.”
Basehor-Linwood School District has over 100 teachers for it’s 2000 students. Boyd explained it was important for the district to have the full support and buy-in of their teaching staff in order to create a successful implementation.
“We wanted to involve our teachers to see if they were supportive. When we first demoed BYOC to them, we heard no complaints – they could see the potential immediately.”
BuildYourOwnCurriculum provides teachers with a simple web-based design to make resources easily accessible. Teachers can search, download, plan, design and publish learning content in an organized structure that automatically aligns curriculum with local, state and national standards.
“The search capabilities are endless – you can search a specific topic and find viable results. It’s going to simplify lesson building, and allow our teachers to find and develop the very best curriculum that works for our district.”
“BYOC will also allow for much more continuity for new staff as they will be able to search and review the curriculum, lessons and units much quicker and more completely. Access outside school is huge as teachers won’t have to worry about carrying home a 10 pound notebook!”
Content sharing provides quicker solutions
“BYOC allows us to see how other districts are applying the same Common Core standards. This reference tool is a time saver and helps us to build an approach that works,” said Boyd.
BuildYourOwnCurriculum provides cross-district sharing of curriculum and activities. It allows administrative and teaching staff to access and download curriculum from other districts anywhere in the country using BYOC.
“The curriculum sharing feature of BYOC makes curriculum building more national instead of regional. We can look at the different pieces and customize our curriculum to create the best fit.”
When asked what type of improvements Basehor-Linwood Schools is making with BYOC, Boyd responded, “We are making a living document to hold all of our curriculum; that’s a huge improvement for us.”
According to Boyd, the Language Arts department has been successfully building lessons in BYOC and the Math department is scheduled to start March 2012. Basehor-Linwood chose to start with Language Arts and Math in order to mirror the release of the Common Core Standards.
Among the many improvements anticipated, Boyd said Basehor-Linwood is most looking forward to BuildYourOwnCurriculum’s simplistic updates. “Every six to seven years we would have to make major changes to our curriculum because of new federal standards. The change would take months to accomplish. When that time comes again, we can easily enter the new standards into BYOC and automatically adjust our curriculum –it’s a much simpler and far less complicated approach.”
Basehor-Linwood School District projects its implementation to be over a 3-year span in order to make sure teachers have a complete understanding of BuildYourOwnCurriculum. “We want make sure our teachers are not worrying about taking on too much too quickly. All in all we want our staff to support and advance the process,” said Boyd.
When asked if Basehor-Linwood had an estimated date of completion Boyd responded, “I don’t expect that we will ever be ‘completely’ done with our implementation because the purpose of the purchase was to make a living curriculum document. By that I mean our teachers will continuously be reviewing and updating their units, lesson plans, and searching for new ideas and techniques to improve instruction and the document.”
A Successful Experience
Boyd explained that the district’s overall experience with BYOC has been very positive. “The implementation of BYOC has been an awakening experience for our district, as it has opened us to many new ideas and avenues to improve our curriculum and instruction.”
“BYOC has made our staff much more aware of the need for vertical alignment and articulation working through this process, it has given everyone an understanding of how important an up-to-date, manageable curriculum is becoming today’s technology rich school. This process has brought the teachers together, K-12, and allowed everyone to gain a better understanding of the big picture.”