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The Process

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Ten questions that explain the process used to create this Curriculum.

  1. How long did the entire project take...from start to finish?

  2. How many people were involved?

  3. What was each phase of the project and how much time did each take?

  4. How did you decide, what the phases were going to be?

  5. What were the main barriers to the project?

  6. What would you do differently?

  7. What surprised you most about the project?

  8. What was the organizational structure of your team?

  9. What were your lessons learned?

  10. What is your advice to others if they begin a project like this?

  11. Mary Ann Addition: What worked well?

 

 

1. How long did the entire project take...from start to finish?

Mary Ann Phillips:

This project had two phases, which were essentially determined by funds available at the time:

a. A group of 4 ESL instructors spent about 9 months developing sample lessons that could be used in a family literacy program.

b. Additional funding was found and a group of 3 ESL instructors (2 from the first group), a program coordinator, a family services specialist, and a facilitator/advisor began to develop the guide, using a top-down, outcome-based approach. This phase took about a year.

Nancy Monroe:

PCC funded Western Washington County Even Start in 99/00 to create a Family Literacy Curriculum, which ended up being detailed lesson plans in several different areas but not a top down, comprehensive look at ESL Family Literacy. Cathy Lindsley gave us Even Start dollars in 00/01 to continue the effort and focus on integrating evaluation into instruction. We hired a consultant and looked at real outcomes for families. Later in the same year (00/01) we rewrote the 99/00 lesson plans and added some to match our outcome design.

Sylvia Rainwater:

I was involved with the project for a year. The group had met for a year prior to that, developing lesson plans, and trying to figure out how to develop a family literacy curriculum. When I came on, they also hired Don Prickle to provide expertise in putting the whole thing together.

2. How many people were involved?

MaryAnn:

see #1.

Nancy

In 99/00  - 4 ESL Instructors. In 00/01 -  an OSU Professor of Adult Basic Ed and 3 ESL Instructors (originally a 4th was involved), a Parent Education Specialist and the project director = 6 total for the entire year (00/01)

 Sylvia:

The first year, I believe Nancy, Kathleen, Maryanne, and someone else whose name escapes me at the moment. The second year it was those people (minus the person whose name I can't remember) plus me and Patti and Don, so six the second year. 

3. What was each phase of the project and how much time did each take?

Mary Ann

see #1

Nancy:

The first part of the project took the most time (several months of meeting twice a month as a group and emailing back and forth quite a bit); Coming up with global outcomes particular to our students and to a comprehensive family literacy program and then translate those globals into finite "proof" that the student has achieved some measure of the desired outcome took a lot of refining (zooming in and out) The skills and underlying concepts were fairly easy and didn't take as much time for this experienced ESL and Parent Ed team. But the final editing took again a lot of time (another couple or three months and many volunteer hours).

Sylvia:

Again, I can only speak to the second year. Don led us in some terrific activities to define what outcomes we wanted for students, as well as some interesting stuff about what is education, and what kinds of approaches we could use. How to look at the big picture, and then zoom in to specifics. After we brainstormed outcomes, we organized them into categories, and came up with the EFF categories plus Personal Development and Cultural Awareness. We then took all that and created an icon as a way of being clear about our framework. This probably took 2 months or so.

Once we had the overall picture, we got down to work, dividing up the three roles and having committees come up with more clearly defined outcomes, activities that might help get there, and plugging in lesson plans already developed to those. Each time we met, we tried to review all of these and give more ideas and feedback. This process could have gone on a long time, but at some point, we realized we were running out of time. We probably did all this for 3-4 months.

Finally, we had to work hard to pull it all together decide what the format would be, hire a technical editor to make it all happen, design a checklist and write front matter, finalize and refine all the POGs (Program Outline Guides) and COGs (Course Outline Guides), gather resources, etc. At some point our technical editor got overwhelmed, but she had done what I considered the hard part -- basic page design and formatting -- so I volunteered to finalize it all. It was actually easier for me in some ways, having been integrally involved in the writing of the guide and knowing what the issues were. I was able to go through and bring some consistency to the guide. Then I wrestled with Kinko's to get it produced. This process took another 2-3 months.  

It was another 3-4 months after that before the guide made it to the web. 

4. How did you decide, what the phases were going to be?

Mary Ann

As described above, we didn't start out with phases in mind. Based on funding and time allotted, the initial group of ESL teachers decided that all that could be reasonably completed were a set of sample lessons. When additional funding was later found, a new group (with 2 ESL teachers continuing from the first group) began to meet, to design a guide that would address outcomes at the program and course level, and to design assessment tasks for these outcomes - all of which would be relevant for an adult ESL component in a family literacy program.

Nancy:

We first followed the guidance of our consultant. It was a top down design. But toward the end of the project his role became lessened and the team concentrated on what they knew of family literacy and ESL Instructor desire for tools (lesson plans).

-         In this second phase we were using a "design-down" process of curriculum design.

-         We began by identifying outcomes at the program level. We developed an icon, something to serve as a metaphor, to tie the guide together visually and conceptually. We tried to get a sense of the big picture, of where we were trying to go and how to get there.

-         Then we moved to looking at each outcome more in depth, identifying the assessment tasks, skills, concepts relevant for each outcome. We began to work more independently or in pairs, outside meeting times.

-         When we met, we would share our work, get feedback, and make changes

-         We decided on a format for the guide, with the help of an editor.

-         Final product was printed.

Sylvia:

I think this was largely Don's doing -- he has experience in curriculum design, and had a sense of how it should work. He did a nice job of giving leadership and direction without imposing his own viewpoints on us (though he didn't hesitate to tell us his opinion!).

5. What were the main barriers to the project?

Mary Ann:

a. All of us lived in different areas; the advisor lived about 1 1/2 hrs away. Most of us did not work at the same location. We did a lot by email, but it's not always as efficient as person to person.

Nancy:

Having an editor hired or designated up front to work as the editor throughout the project. Time was another factor. This was a dedicated group of volunteers.

Sylvia:

Time is always a problem for busy teachers and administrators. Getting all of us together every couple of months for 3 hours at a pop was challenging. Finding a good place (free, accessible to all of us, etc.) was sometimes difficult. We all got paid for our work from the Even Start grant, and that also created a deadline, since Cathy wanted it completed by a certain time, and we wanted to present it to the Adult Ed Summer Conference. 

Hiring Don to provide direction largely ameliorated the barrier of in-experience.The technical editor issue was a bit of a problem. Don seemed to think he could find a student at the university to do this, but that wasn't as easy as it sounded. The editor really should be involved in the meetings so she or he can understand what we're trying to do. Having been a typesetter for many years, I was able to see what needed to be done, and found that production of the book itself was given relatively short shrift.  

In addition, I have no expertise in putting things on the web, so this had to be turned over to yet another person. Getting the icon produced was difficult. We gave it to one graphic artist to do, who produced two possibilities that had nothing to do with what we presented. We went to another graphic artist who did a better job. The final product isn't perfect, but is very close to what we wanted. Again, it probably would have been good to have a graphic artist involved in at least one meeting with us about what we envisioned. 

6. What would you do differently?

Mary Ann:

It would be great to have the funding and time allotted from the beginning; our process was a bit backwards, since we started with lessons rather than outcomes. This was because the first group realized that lessons were all we could reasonably complete with the funding and time given. By the time we finished the overall guide, the format we had used for the sample lessons was not compatible with the overall design of the curriculum. This required a lot of reworking of the lessons.

Nancy:

Have more time, money and hire an editor up front.

Sylvia:

Not sure. I was interested in being involved in the project both for my own learning and also to contribute what I could from my experience with family literacy ESL teaching. I believe both of those goals were met by this experience, and so I don't think I'd do anything differently, personally.  

In terms of the project, as mentioned above, I'd put more attention to the physical production of the book and putting it on the web. Though I don't know how to put things on the web, as a person who *uses* the web, I have some criticisms about how it was put up. Developing the curriculum is one thing, and very important. How it gets shared with others is another thing, and equally as important if it is to be useful to a wide number of people. 

7. What surprised you most about the project?

Mary Ann

Can't think of anything.

Nancy:

How it evolved and did finally come together.

Sylvia:

I suppose it is always a surprise to me to find that I really do know my stuff in this area! 

8. What was the organizational structure of your team?

Mary Ann:

Not sure if this is what you mean:

1 advisor/facilitator (professor of ed at OSU)

1 program coordinator of an Even Start Family Literacy Program

1 Family Services Specialist from an Even Start Program

3 ESL instructors (from 2 family literacy programs)

Nancy:

A consultant and a project director but really the whole group functioned as a team with equal respect.

Sylvia:

Nancy coordinated it which is to say, she worked with Cathy to make sure things got set up, she called meetings and made sure people got paid, she hired Don, kept us on track, problem-solved, etc. Don led most meetings. With six of us, we had an ideal-sized group for great discussions, and all of us brought our best to the table. We really worked as a team, helping each other as needed, and exchanging all sorts of ideas. 

9. What were your lessons learned?

Mary Ann:

Not really a lesson, but a nice confirmation of something I already knew: that when we trust the process and each other, the ideas will unfold and develop. It takes a lot of time, but the synergy is wonderful. Two heads are always better than one!

Nancy:

The top down design process and the huge undertaking of a curriculum development process.

Sylvia:

I loved the Paradox of Educational Reform (which I don't think we put into the guide). It validated and articulated something which I experience in the classroom the pendulum swing between teacher-centered and learner-centered approaches. I have a clearer sense of what a curriculum is supposed to look like, and a better understanding of my own process in this area. 

10. What is your advice to others if they begin a project like this?

MaryAnn:

1.      Clearly agree on and define the purpose and scope of what you want to do at the very beginning.

2.      Use a process to do this, where everyone's voice is heard. Find someone to facilitate this process.

3.       Be patient with the initial stages. It can take a long time to brainstorm and reach consensus, but it is important to get all the input.

4.       Find an editor with desktop publishing skills and some knowledge of your content who can help with formatting and design decisions. Make sure this person is someone you can work with closely and communicate with. Decide exactly what you want him or her to do. In our case, when we reached the final stages we were without an editor. A member of our team graciously took over the job of putting the final product together. 

Nancy:

Hire one editor who can outline the page format (margins etc.) that everyone needs to adhere to up front. Saves time in editing. Have a visionary consultant like ours and a hard working and copasetic team like ours.

Sylvia:

11. Mary Ann Addition: What worked well?

In the initial stages of the "second phase" we had a facilitator who was very experienced in designing outcome-based curriculum. He led us through the early work of defining outcomes and facilitated group discussions, brainstorming activities, and consensus building.

When we reached the point where we were defining assessment tasks for specific outcomes, we worked in pairs and independently. I feel this process worked well. A good facilitator is essential.

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