By: Kendall Hunt RPD with contributions from the editorial team of ByDesign Science
It should go without saying that the most effective teaching isn’t about following a list of the most popular evidence-based tools and strategies but having qualities that address the fundamental human need of a diverse classroom community to support a more well-rounded learning experience. These teachers possess traits like empathy, kindness, and deep respect for the lives of each individual student.
Teachers can foster a love for learning by creating a positive and inclusive classroom environment, incorporating interactive and engaging teaching methods, recognizing, and celebrating individual student strengths, promoting curiosity, and connecting lessons to real-world applications. Encouraging a growth mindset, where challenges are viewed as opportunities for learning, also plays a key role in fostering a genuine love for learning within students.
Today’s educators are expected to implement evidence-based practices and programs to improve the outcomes of the students. However, research indicates that one of the most common reasons these educators do not get the results they anticipate is that they have not properly implemented the program as intended. We often refer to this as “teaching to the fidelity of the program”. Fidelity of Implementation refers to the degree in which a program or practice is implemented as intended by the researchers or developers.
For the editorial team at Kendall Hunt RPD, we have developed and customized several programs for schools, like ByDesign Science (grades 1-8), which is driven by inquiry. This is one of our favorite aspects of the curriculum. “It is not just a dry textbook full of facts (though it is a textbook), it begins each lesson with a question to engage curious minds,” states Lynn Molony, Director of Institutional Publishing with Kendall Hunt RPD. “It encourages the use of scientific methods in a way that students can easily understand and apply.”
Additionally, one of most important components of the program is the Student Science Journals. "The journals may seem small, but they provide a substantial impact! You will be amazed at the amount of learning and discovery that is documented within the Student Science Journals as students and teachers discover what and how they have learned for themselves. Plus, the “inquiries” are fun, hands-on activities that will get your student thinking and collaborating with their peers."
Throughout this curriculum, students are given opportunities to think critically and to learn by exploring and inquiring. The science journals that are a core component of the curricula are a vital resource that guides students in processing what they're learning, through writing, drawing, recording, describing, and collaborating about what they've learned in their own words, and in recording information from their explorations. The scoring rubrics assist in assessing each student’s understanding of the concepts presented and inform the teacher how the student is progressing through their experience. The work completed becomes the student personal portfolios of the work and understandings that each student has gained.
Why is it important for educators to teach to the fidelity of the curriculum when instructing?
Guided by the content of the curriculum, it is essential for teachers to utilize the resources and the structured framework of the programs, to ensure that students receive a comprehensive education. The curriculum serves as a guide, helping teachers set learning goals, track progress, and ensure that key concepts are covered. It also helps maintain educational standards and provides a basis for assessment. While flexibility is important, a solid understanding and adherence to the curriculum help maintain educational rigor and consistency.
Here are five reasons students will succeed if a teacher teaches to the fidelity of the curriculum.
1. Understanding and Mastery: As a teacher, a thorough understanding of the curriculum to ensure mastery of key concepts and skills is critical for students. As a teacher it is key for you to recognize the importance of gathering and organizing the online resources necessary for implementation and skill development.
2. Alignment and Planning: Align teaching strategies with curriculum objectives and plan lessons that effectively convey the intended content. Utilize several different learning strategies to develop a student’s understanding and sharpen their skills and knowledge.
3. Flexibility within Structure: While sticking to the curriculum, be flexible in adapting teaching methods to cater to diverse learning styles and to address each student’s individual needs. Structure also refers to group collaboration and sharing of key concepts through labs and additional research on a specific topic.
4. Assessment and Feedback: Regularly assess student progress using appropriate methods and provide constructive feedback to facilitate continuous improvement. Be sure to assess students at various levels, not only with prepared blackline masters but through inquiry-based projects, conversions, and group collaborations. The Student Science Journals are a great way to assess a student and provide feedback by using the scoring rubrics for your labs developed within the program.
5. Real-World Relevance: Relate curriculum content to real-world scenarios, fostering a deeper understanding and demonstrating of the practical applications of the knowledge being taught.
When teaching, inspire students to collaborate and learn at many levels. Using real-world examples and tackling real-world problems can make learning more meaningful for students. Real-world relevance can spark excitement in gaining knowledge about important issues.
As a teacher are you teaching to the fidelity of the ByDesign Science curriculum? Are you addressing the needs of each of your students and providing positive outcomes for each student?
Evaluation Brief: Measuring Implementation Fidelity | The Administration for Children and Families (hhs.gov)
IRIS | Page 1: Fidelity of Implementation (vanderbilt.edu)