Broad Curriculum: Part 1

There are essentially two types of curriculum documents: 1) those that narrow curriculum with a focus on unpacking curricular goals into discrete skills; and 2) those that align curricular goals with differentiated instruction and assessment for various phases in the Scope and Sequence of SLA.

  1. Narrow, Unaligned Curriculum

In traditional models, curricular goals are obsessively teased out as standards are  mapped out in rigid detail.  The focus is only on the “finish line”: rigidly pre-planned, standardized student outcomes.

“Teaching with the end in mind” is important, but so is teaching to the students here and now in the four walls of our classrooms.   Rigid pacing guides leave no room for differentiation through ability-appropriate instruction and assessments.

This is particularly troublesome for language education.  Language is acquired by receiving comprehensible input (Krashen, 2004).  To provide comprehensible input, teachers should not “teach” target structures, or allow themselves to write, talk, or think in this way.  Otherwise, there is often pressure to skill-build in order to master language skills demanded by a rigid timetable (Krashen, 2016).


  1.  Broad, Constructively-Aligned Curriculum

Broadly-written curriculum documents offer road-signs to keep teachers on the right path.  Teachers walk steadily toward curricular goals on the horizon, instead of ploughing through overly-detailed pacing guides or curriculum maps and leaving students  behind.  Teachers have autonomy to use professional judgment and fair formative assessments to meet children where they are at with ability-appropriate comprehensible input.


Baker, E. L. (2004, December). Aligning Curriculum, Standards, and Assessments: Fulfilling the Promise of School Reform [Scholarly project]. Retrieved from

Biggs, J.B. (1996) Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment, Higher Education, 32: 1–18.

Krashen, S. (2004) The Power of Reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Krashen, S. (2016, July 26). Targeting 1 and Targeting 2: Working paper [Web log post]. Retrieved from


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Claire Walter

I am an ESL teacher and I promote differentiated, compassionate instruction and assessment for English Language Learners.

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