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Co-Designing the Crisis Curriculum

An collaborative approach to curriculum design that focuses on setting realistic expectations for parents, students and teachers in a crisis

Photo of Erin Helcl
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I am a.....

  • Service Designers

Tell us about your idea

After conducting research with parents, teachers and students - we learned that while there is opportunity right now to radically reimagine what we need our education systems to be, we uncovered a powerful and immediate need to help parents, teachers and students adapt to the current situation of remote learning during a crisis.  Therefore, our idea is framed around helping to solve for the current immediate needs uncovered with a potential to integrate the best features of these ideas into school structures moving forward. 

The first part of the idea is to build a collective strategy to help parents, teachers and students come together and align on what kind of experience they are trying to build with remote learning in the near-term?  We believe that clarity on the kind of experience school is meant to be during this crisis is paramount to adapting to remote learning.  

In other words, what problem are we trying to solve?

1. How might we replicate the in-school experience remotely?  OR 

2. How might we provide an adapted school experience that helps all parties feel supported and helps students not fall too far behind while maintaining structure and positive mental health during this crisis? 

Our ideas centre around number 2 - We would like to explore our hypothesis that it would be beneficial to closely connect parents and teachers to discuss and co-design a realistic curriculum for students that can be delivered outside of the traditional classroom.  We believe there is merit to parents and teachers spending time together to review topics and skills like, how to teach, how to reinforce learning and to brainstorm ideas for non-traditional lesson plans that can be achieved at home.  There may also be merit to including older kids in the design of the curriculum so that they have a stake in the process and feel some control and ownership over their situation. 

For example: Teachers could share what education goals and learning objectives for the month with parents, then they come together to brainstorm what assignments could be done at home and with the help of parents in the community to build out the upcoming lesson plans.   Then parents and teachers check in each week to review progress and ask questions and get support on how to teach and reinforce the learning.

Ideas for at home learning assignments could be:  

Math: 1. Create a plan to earn money and save for something you want, including recommendations on how you will earn that money 2.Help the family stretch the grocery dollar and create a meal plan and shopping list within a set budget and parameters 

English: 1. Write a story about something that you were looking forward to?  How can you still enjoy that experience even if it doesn’t look the same? 

2. Read a book where a main character has to overcome a difficult situation - what can you learn from what they did well?  What advice would you give them?  How can you apply that advice to yourself?

Business & Economics: Design a business or venture that could help the world right now! Think about both how it can help but also make money.

Language: Pair up with a school in France, Italy, Spain, etc for a virtual language exchange program 

Music: Use everyday objects to create and record a song using only things you can find in your house 

Art & Design: Design a game prototype (physical or virtual) that could help the world in some way or could be played with your class even offline (ex.scavenger hunt) 

To build on this, we would like to explore the idea of helping parents come together to build a community of support - How can we leverage different areas of expertise and schedules to provide additional support for the students but also provide some relief for parents and teachers.

- For example - Tania the Communication Manager can help the students with questions about their english assignment Tuesdays from 2-3 on Zoom 

- Matt and Susan who both have business degrees can give coaching on the student business ideas virtually every Friday at 1:00. 

- Jeremy the Chef can give cooking lessons Saturdays to parents and students - homework is to create the meal together and then eat virtually with classmates

-Older students can learn leadership and coaching skills by being reading buddies or mentors to younger students 

Additionally, organizations/employers can get involved and help their community by providing flexible time for their employees to support the community aspect of teaching. 

These organizations could present real life design challenges for kids to participate in so there is more of a purpose and benefit to the work they are doing at home. 

Example: Google Summer Student Design Challenge - High Schools from across the world participate and come together to make a difference!

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

Out of date learning materials that focus on outdated skills that won’t be needed in the future - create more experiential and integrated learning experience now!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

We are Service Designers that are looking for ways to help during the COVID-19 crisis. This challenge sparked our interest because there are so many people currently impacted by this problem. We have heard many stories of frustration and stress from colleagues, friends and family and wanted to find a way to help at broader scale.

What region are you located in?

  • North America

Where are you located?

We are located in Toronto, Ontario Canada

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Paul Kim

Hi Erin. Thanks for submitting such a detailed response. The challenge ends on Tuesday and I am wondering if you can iterate on your idea to highlight the strengths of your idea. Perhaps it might just be a tweak of the title?