Office of the Academic Dean
At SMES our academic program prepares our students for lives of learning, leadership, service. We use the Understanding by Design model (Wiggins and McTighe) to plan our curriculum in three stages, identifying the desired learning results, determine acceptable evidence of the learning, and planning for instruction. In stage one, teachers identify enduring understandings which are the big ideas that we want our students to keep with them over their lifetime, essential questions, the mental Velcro that helps students to make the learning "stick", content, the vehicle making sense of the big ideas, skill, the process of learning. In stage two teachers plan assessments that allow students multiple ways of demonstrating of their understanding. In stage three teachers plan learning experiences, the activities that students engage in on a daily basis to arrive at understanding. The purpose of this model is to clearly articulate horizontally and vertically what we want students to know (content) and be able to do (skills) at the end of each unit and grade level. The model also allows for interdisciplinary connections and differentiated instruction.
When curriculum is scoped and sequenced with intention, it can be said that for each subject area or academic discipline, the goals of learning are the same regardless of the grade level of the student - it is simply that the level of skill and knowledge base become more sophisticated and complex as we ascend the ages and stages of student intellectual, social, and emotional development. In other words, a second grader uses the scientific method of inquiry just as a twelfth grader does, however, it looks very different because learning is really about thinking and connecting new knowledge to previous experiences in problem-solving, analysis, and interpretation. Consequently, learning builds upon itself and curriculum must be structured accordingly.