Principles and Practices of Effective Literacy Curriculum Design

DSAC Professional Development Fact Sheet for
Principles and Practices of Effective Literacy Curriculum Design
offered by the Western Massachusetts Writing Project
Course Description: The aims of this course are to deepen participants’ understanding of pedagogical shifts
embedded in the 2011 Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for English Language Arts and Literacy (Common
Core Standards), to strengthen their grasp of the process of backward planning (through Understanding by
Design), and expand their awareness of current best practices in content literacy instruction for the purposes of
developing their capacity for designing effective curriculum units. The course will include practical, up-to-date
readings and hands-on activities adaptable to the classroom. Among the focus areas are writing to learn, close
reading of complex texts, accommodating diverse learners, and teaching with technology.
Administrator Support Component: Administrators will join teachers at the last session of the course to learn
about the unit plans participants have developed, help make connections to work that other teachers are doing,
and develop plans for supporting participants during implementation of their units. In advance of this meeting,
administrators will receive a slide presentation on the course content, including key objectives and strategies.
Site Facilitator/Coach Component: Site Facilitators/Coaches will act as resources for the other teachers and
assist in team building with them and with the appropriate administrators and curriculum coordinators. In
addition to participating in the course, the Site Facilitators/Coaches will be included in planning meetings with
the course instructors, at which they will receive three (or more) hours’ training. Course instructors will also
make one site visit to Site Facilitators/Coaches’ schools to support their work with teachers and administrators.
Course Format: The course meets face-to-face (with some online homework) for a total 36 contact hours. It is
configured for 12 three-hour sessions, but some of these may be combined into full-day meetings.
Targeted Audience and Grade Level: The course may be adapted to target elementary teachers (PK-5) or middle
school and secondary teachers (6-12), in one discipline or several; or it may be offered PK-12, to all disciplines.
Prerequisites: None, aside from a bachelor’s degree. Teachers from all grade levels and disciplines are eligible.
Resources Teachers Will Receive: Each participant will receive two (or more) course books, duplicated articles,
links to Internet resources and technology tools, and a $200-$250 allowance to purchase classroom materials.
Products Teachers Will Generate: Each participant will generate a good deal of informal writing, some of it used
as formative assessment; a reflective final essay synthesizing what she/he has learned, a curriculum-embedded
performance assessment for her/his classroom, and a and a fully developed backward-designed curriculum unit.
Graduate Credit and PDPs: 67.5 PDPs awarded on full completion of the course; 3 graduate credits available
from the University of Massachusetts Amherst for $345 (registration online at
Number of Participants: We require a minimum of 14 and a maximum of 24 participants.
Cost: As a regional course offering, the per teacher vendor cost is $1,050 per participant. This includes $200$250 per teacher for classroom materials (prorated according to enrollment) to support implementation of each
teacher’s curriculum unit. Instructor travel and any additional stipends are not included. If a district wishes to
contract for the course, the minimum cost is $14,700 and the maximum $25,200 for up to 24 teachers.
Vendor Contact Information: Anne Herrington, Ph.D., Site Director, Western Massachusetts Writing Project,
University of Massachusetts Amherst,, 413-545-5466,