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What is a Curriculum Guide?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A curriculum guide may be general or specific and can be a way of determining what to teach, how to teach it, and in what ways to teach material to diverse groups of students. Sometimes these guides are used by students especially at the college level to determine what material they ought to master in their fields. Alternately, teachers, who are trying to build lesson plans with a variety of objectives, could utilize different forms of a curriculum guide, and these might be used by anyone from an early childhood educator to a college professor.

Since the term curriculum guide means different things, getting a handle on a definition that will always apply is challenging. Often, a guide is specific to a subject or to one aspect of a subject. For instance there exists guides to different important moments in history. They can list ideas of how to teach that moment to appeal to different types of learners, in addition to listing the main ideas that need be gleaned from study of that moment or epoch. Some guides would include suggested activities, worksheets, additional readings and other things that could be adapted to a broad range of grades or that are specific to a certain grade.

In a number of instances, public schools set up a curriculum guide for each subject and these guides may be based on the state or regional standards that a school wants students to meet. They may specify core concepts that must be taught, give suggested time periods that ought to be spent on each concept, and give specific recommendations on how to teach the concept in a manner that appeals to different kinds of students. For instance an art element could be recommended in a curriculum guide as a way of accessing the talents of the student who principally learns via this method.

Essentially, such an extensive guide looks at ways of teaching to learners of different strengths, recommending activities that will appeal to each type. When students are in Teacher College they often have to design such programs themselves, bearing in mind that all students do not learn in the same manner. That same standard may be held with working teachers.

There are also much less extensive curriculum guide examples on the Internet for homeschooling teachers. These may approach a subject or a specific element that needs to be learned by providing things like suggested activities, worksheets, and other websites to get information. Many of these may prove useful when a person is preparing to teach a certain unit, thought they should be checked for accuracy, since they may not always come from reputable sources.

The way a curriculum is used by a student may be very different. When students study a particular discipline, they often are preparing for qualifying examinations they must take. No matter what the recommendation of the school, reading a curriculum guide for the field they will enter, can make good sense, and make studies more complete. Students can then use elective choices to be certain that they’ve learned all subjects they will need to pass qualifying examinations and to advance in their field.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By oasis11 — On Dec 09, 2010

Subway11-These elementary curriculum guides will give the best options for preparatory schools as well as special education schools that need specialized curriculum.

For example, in a preparatory school the math curriculum guide might suggest to use an accelerated version of the program or skip a year. For example, in the Saxon Math program at my children’s school they are taught one grade level ahead.

If they are in second grade, then they would follow the Saxon 3 or the third grade math curriculum. A traditional public school would probably choose to go with Saxon 2 which is the standard second grade material. These types of curriculum give schools the most flexibility when teaching their students.

By subway11 — On Dec 07, 2010

Latte31-A language arts curriculum guide offers curriculum options for the educational goal of the school.

For example, too many middle school curriculums just rehash the previous elementary grades and this valuable time is wasted.

A foundations curriculum guide offers information on the types of curriculum that is necessary to challenge students. They explain that the best programs offer a high degree of academic intensity as well as high levels of accountability.

By latte31 — On Dec 06, 2010

Mathematics curriculum guide may determine how to approach each particular concept.

A math curriculum guide really breaks down what the goals of the curriculum are. It explains which concepts will be covered and how they will be covered.

For example, with a math curriculum like Saxon math students are exposed to a variety of concepts at one time. These topics will then be reintroduced at a later date much harder complexity.

The spiral approach offers exposure to more topics at a time. The mastery approach would be something like Singapore math curriculum.

Here the concept is repeated so many times that the child will eventually master the concept and will then move onto another concept.

With the mastery approach children tend to have a better foundation in mathematics which leads to higher potential abilities in abstract math.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor...
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