An online literacy curriculum tool that’s like an ice cream sundae

104274070Need inspiration for great literacy curriculum, but don’t want to be robotically reading from a script? Check out the Literacy Design Collaborative: an online tool that helps educators shape a rigorous literacy curriculum unit, while maintaining their own customized content and flair!

The way the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) helps educators create curriculum units (called “Modules”) is that it answers the following four questions:

  1. What task? The LDC offers numerous fill-in-the-blank templates to create rigorous, Common Core-aligned project questions that are completely customizable to the text and content the teacher wishes to cover. For example, one task sample on the LDC website is: “In his poem ‘O Captain, My Captain,’ Does Walt Whitman adequately portray the sense of loss felt by Americans after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination?
  2. What skills? The LDC scaffolds the educator to break down the skills necessary for students to complete the task well, for example: “Active Reading,” “Organizing Notes” and “Revision and Editing.”
  3. What instruction? With the module template, instructors match the skills with the instruction they will create to develop each. The LDC template helps structure specifics and pacing.
  4. What results? The LDC assists educators in providing exemplary student work and detailed rubrics so students know exactly how to succeed.

As a literacy educator since 2003, what I love about the LDC model is that it is helpful without being constraining. An analogy might be to food preparation: The LDC helps you create a great ice cream sundae (student literacy product) that matches your tastes (what you want and need to teach), while still fulfilling the mandatory elements of a delicious dessert (literacy standards). The LDC guides you to find a cup to put the sundae in (the task), but you can choose what shape and size cup to use (the scope of the task). The LDC stresses that there should be ice cream in your sundae (texts students will use as the base for the task), but you can choose the flavor and amount (texts themselves). And so on. (Hopefully this analogy is helpful rather than just making you confused and hungry.)

Anyway, do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes browsing the Literacy Design Collaborative site to see what gems you find. In particular, I recommend the Sample English Curriculum Units section and the Module Development Tools. There are also several illuminating videos on the LDC

So what are YOUR thoughts about the Literacy Design Collaborative? Have you used it already? If so, what are your experiences? If not, does it seem like something that would be useful for you? What questions do you have? Do share!