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A Comprehensive K-12 Curriculum Framework


Structure

The K12Together curriculum has a unique structure that enables it to be used in small schools with children in a wide spread of ages. K12Together is equally useful for guiding individual students or large age-segregated classrooms. However, it is one of few curricula available created for the type of multiage learning that is possible in “one room schoolhouse” settings. All content and skill objectives, activities, and teacher resources, are designed to make family-based or small-school-based learning easy and exciting. In order to accomplish these goals, K12Together has been written with the following structural distinctives:

1. The content is looping.

K12Together uses the term “looping” to refer to the way it’s content is delivered. All the students study the same content at different levels, as they loop together through four distinct curriculum years. Traditionally the term “looping” refers to keeping students together with the same teacher for several years, thus creating long-term relationships, and K12Together does keep multi-age groups of students and their teacher together for years. However, more importantly, K12Together’s looping curriculum structure helps students build on their previous knowledge in an iterative way, by looping back to a subject every fourth year at a higher and deeper level.

In order to maximize opportunities for group and multi-age learning, K12Together consists of four complete curriculum-years (I-IV) of learning. Students loop through these curriculum-years at progressively higher levels. Each curriculum-year (I-IV) is offered on three broad content levels: Grades K-4 (Primary), Grades 5-8 (Middle School), and Grades 9-12 (High School). After going through all four years at whatever level is appropriate, the student will loop around and repeat the content of each year at a higher level. If a student goes through twelve years of K12Together, he or she will cover every topic at three levels of depth, the primary level, the middle school level, and the high school level (see The Curriculum).

The genius of the looping structure is two-fold:

  • Incremental learning: Because students are exposed to all the topics at a simpler level but come back to them with increasing depth every fourth year. By the time the students are studying topics at the high school level, they are familiar with the subject and can engage in deeper analysis and discussion.
  • Flexible but comprehensive multi-age learning: The four looping curriculum-years of K12Together provide guidance for what a student of any age would need to learn in any topic presented. Therefore, any age combination of students, and even adults, can learn together and work on projects together and help each other with their learning. Students can start at any level at any point in the curriculum, knowing that things they may have missed will be covered when the curriculum loops back to the beginning again.

Questions about looping:

How are age appropriate skills developed with the looping structure?
The skills charts are linear instead of looping. Since skills are developed incrementally and individually, the teacher works with each student to help them make progress on the skill development charts regardless of the thematic content. Some students will progress faster in some areas than others, which K12Together enables.

How are math and reading skills handled?
A complete mathematics curriculum should be followed by each student, concurrently with the looping content studies. Before a student has learned to read and write, he or she will also need supplemental curricula in phonics, handwriting and grammar. Specific programs are recommended (see Recommended Math and Phonics/Grammar programs) that are flexible with their content so they can be easily integrated with whatever curriculum-year of K12Together the student is studying.

2. The curriculum is unit-study based.

The four looping curriculum-years of K12Together (Years I-IV) each consist of six units (see The Curriculum). Each unit is designed to be completed in six weeks; however, five to seven weeks may be used, allowing for a flexible school year from 30 to 42 weeks. School breaks can be matched with the school system of any country or be taken at times of your own choice.

K12Together divides the learning into units, and the units into “unit-studies” (topic-based learning), making it very flexible:

Advantages of the unit-study structure:

  • Students of a variety of ages can easily study together, each one learning up to the level of their capacity. Each of the students can tackle a different aspect of the learning and present their findings to the others, learning teaching skills. This process spreads out the tasks of learning and promotes cooperative learning.
  • Topics of special interest can added or expanded, while topics of little interest can be minimized or removed. This allows K12Together to be adapted to meet the educational requirements of the country that you are in, or certain weeks to be reserved for studying for country-wide exams.
  • Real books can be used instead of textbooks. Real books are often cheaper and more beautiful than textbooks, because they compete on the open market for sales. They are often more up-to-date and accurate than textbooks because they are written by an author who is solely responsible for the content. Real books are also less likely to be influenced by political agendas. Real books can be borrowed from libraries or friends, or bought used on the internet, more easily than textbooks. However, if the school or learning group cannot afford a lot of books, K12Together’s unit studies allow information to be found for free on the internet. See the booklists in the The Curriculum section, under the year and unit, for suggestions for books for all ages by topic.
  • Students can read at a level right for them, without shaming or competition. Children learn to read at different ages, some progressing faster than others. The unit-study structure of K12Together enables all students to read at a level that is comfortable for them until their reading becomes fluent. Reading books are recommended in each unit at all levels. At the primary level, books are divided into two sub-categories: ER: Emergent Readers (K-2), students who are still learning how to read, and IR: Independent Readers (grades 1-4), students who can read simple books independently. Since children learn to read at different ages, these categories overlap. Because all ages are studying the same topic, a student can pick a book at a level suitable for him to read regardless of his age. If no appropriate book can be found, an older student can read part of his book out loud for the younger student, since it will be on the same subject. The younger student thus improves his listening skills while learning what he needs to know about that unit’s topics.
  • Students’ learning can be evaluated in a variety of ways. Unit studies are not test-based learning systems. Instead, students are evaluated on how much they participate, how well they can discuss the subject, and oral and written assignments, presentations, and projects. Some students learn best visually, others auditorially, and still others kinesthetically (through physical action). Unit studies allow students to learn and to present their learning in ways more appropriate to them as individuals, using their areas of strength.