Creating a Curriculum for School Programs Creating a Curriculum for School Programs
15 July 2024

Creating a Curriculum for School Programs

When I joined the National Parks of Boston Education, Youth, and Volunteer Engagement team they were still in the beginning phases of a redevelopment process for their curriculum-based programs. I was eager to be able to join in on this process with my background in teaching. It has been a long journey of working through the process to create a presentable curriculum framework that we can gather feedback on, and we are finally there! While none of us have ever created a curriculum framework before we were able to join our collective expertise together and create a presentable draft. 

I’ve learned so much throughout this process such as collaborating with a large group of individuals with different priorities and ideas of the direction in which we wanted to head. We started this project by digging into the Massachusetts state standards across all content areas. It led to an excel file with standards that we thought might have any semblance of a connection to our park sites and stories. We then met with individual place-based teams here at the park to generate a list of stories and topics they thought were strongest and most relevant that we could teach to students K-12. Then the fun began to cross reference these two lists. The giant whiteboard partitions were broken out as well as color coordinating stickers and markers to find all the overlaps between our park sites and stories and the state standards. All of this in an effort to determine what sort of programming we want to be offering to school groups. 

After all the brainstorming and physical overlapping on paper it was time to take the project digital! We used a website called Mural to create a digital version of our white boards with sticky notes at each grade level of the standards matches we felt were strongest. This led us to loads of possible options! We paused to gather feedback here from some local teachers and colleagues. This was where we got a bit stuck in our process - we had made something but the avenue to where to go from here was endless. Meanwhile throughout this process we were all still juggling many other duties, operations, and facilitating yearlong youth engagement programs. Each of us also took time to help compile a list of past lessons that had been written over the years for National parks of Boston and research what other parks are doing for school programs - how many lessons are offered and how teachers sign up.

We took a step backwards a bit to help establish some grounding principles, values, and skills for our work with youth and to determine how we will want to center the materials we will be creating for teachers and students to utilize. We also mapped out a timeline for ourselves to help guide the rest of our meetings for the foreseeable future. After creating a presentable version of our principles, values, and skills using the Canva website we went back to try and narrow down some themes we wanted to begin with at each grade level. Starting with third through eighth grades, as that was where the strongest links we noticed were, we pulled out 3-5 standards at each grade level and created a theme around them. The themes crossed both science and history. We concluded with a large overarching theme for all of our engagement which is “Past Informing the Present”.

While it feels like we’ve taken two steps forward and one step backwards at times, it was all part of the process. In the end I’ve felt a large sense of pride in our ability to push through it all and look back at just how much we were able to accomplish in such a short time. I also am continuing on in this project with a great sense of admiration and appreciation for my colleagues, their varying backgrounds, and ability to stay true to themselves through the undertaking of such a colossal project. Can’t wait to see what feedback we generate from other park staff and partners in the coming months! 

MANO Project
is an initiative of Hispanic 
Access Foundation.

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