Cats or Dogs? Choosing and Creating Curriculum

Choosing a curriculum is kind of like choosing between a cat and a dog.  You need to consider the following:

  1. What features does each one possess that are beneficial?
  2. What features does each one possess that are drawbacks?
  3. Which one will meet the specific family’s (school’s) needs?
  4. Which one will be productive for both parent (teacher) and child (student)?
  5. Which one will be both productive and affordable?


Recently I’ve felt like I’m in similar “shoes” as Angela from The Office.  For those who are not familiar with this character, Angela adored her cat Sprinkles – so much so that she went to great lengths to keep it alive.  We weighed the above options because our children have been clamoring for a pet.  We came to the conclusion that a couple of kittens would be the best option for our family at this time.  But after a few weeks one kitten came down with a nasty fever – complete with kitty boogers.  I didn’t even know kitty boogers were a thing!  The other feline came down with something even worse – ringworm.  Definitely gross.


So now our two kittens are quarantined, while I have taken on the role of Angela, giving both cats ringworm medication once a day, and one cat amoxicillin twice a day. This is going to go on for the next three weeks at least!  But do we feel like we have made the wrong decision?  No, because we considered the five options above.  Despite our best intentions and those fur balls being quite adorable, unforeseen circumstances happen.

I have been on several committees that have been a part of piloting and choosing different types of curriculum for our district.  Now I’m dealing with a different kind of animal (pun intended) – I’m making a curriculum.


Thankfully I have several talented professional experts assisting me with this project, including Mark Wiley, Assistant Director of Marine Education at the University of New Hampshire.  I recently met with Mark at his office in Lee, New Hampshire, and I am extremely thankful for his foresight and expertise.  He provided me with a number of valuable resources and ideas, and gave me direction of how to develop the rocky shore ecosystem curriculum.


Mark equipped me with a planning model that I can use when designing and revising lessons.  It was a “planning cycle” of four categories that all need to be seriously addressed when creating a curriculum: 1) content standard, 2) performance standard, 3) pedagogy / resources, and 4) assessment and evaluation.  This model, along with his suggestion of creating a document that provides teachers with options of how to sequence activities will be quite beneficial to the preparation of the curriculum.  His vast marine knowledge will be of continuous assistance to this project.

So, as I continue to coat pills with soft salmon Meow Mix treats and feed them to our kittens, I will also work diligently to create a curriculum that will hopefully be very beneficial to both students and teachers and meet many classrooms’ needs.  I will do my best to ensure it benefits our state’s precious rocky shore ecosystem as well.

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