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Strategy #1: Begin with what you know to see the "Big Picture"

Why not begin your exploration of the Michigan curriculum documents by focusing on the subject area that you consider to be your greatest strength and a grade level with which you are familiar? Sometimes themes and connections across topics are more readily apparent in areas with which we are most familiar. As you read through the documents in your chosen area, use the Seeing the "Big Picture" Tool below to make notes on your insights and questions about:

  • the content area you are exploring (e.g., themes, central questions, major skill areas that seem important)
  • how students at this grade level would connect with, respond to or use this content (e.g., prior knowledge and experience, likely difficulties)

It would be helpful to talk with your mentor teacher or other colleagues about these questions so you can share ideas and help each other address questions. Colleagues may also be able to suggest resources for working with the ideas you identify.

Tool: Seeing the "Big Picture"

Questions Notes about content area (themes, central questions, major skill areas) Notes about how students at this grade level would connect with, respond to or use this content (prior knowledge and experience, likely difficulties)
Is there a Big Idea that helps to sum up what students are supposed to learn from a set of related standards? What is it?    
Why is it that learning the skills or concepts outlined in the standards is important (in the world outside school, as very distinct from getting to the next grade)?    
What essential skills and strategies seem important across several standards (either within a content area or across multiple subject areas)?    
What central questions might you use to engage students in learning the reasoning and skills described in the standards?    

For an idea on how to brainstorm what you want students to learn from your course, see Designing your ideal social studies graduate.

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