The Knowledge-Based Curriculum
We have adapted our Science, History, Geography, Art and Music lessons to reflect the Knowledge Based Curriculum but you will find that lots of the concepts that we apply to these lessons can be found in other lessons too!
What is a Knowledge Based Curriculum?
There are a number of aspects which make our curriculum 'Knowledge Based'...
The knowledge content is specified in detail: Units of work are supported by statements that detail the knowledge to be learned – something that can be written down. We do not merely want to ‘do the Romans’; we want children to gain some specified knowledge of the Romans in Britain as well as a broad overview. We want children to know specific things about plants and about Architecture in Art, The French Revolution, Spatial Sense and Forces in Science.
Knowledge is taught to be remembered, not merely encountered: A good knowledge-rich curriculum embraces learning from cognitive science about memory, forgetting and the power of retrieval practice. Our curriculum is not simply a set of encounters from which children form ad hoc memories; it is designed to be remembered in detail; to be stored in our students’ long-term memories so that they can later build on it forming ever wider and deeper schema.
Knowledge is sequenced and mapped deliberately and coherently: Beyond the knowledge specified for each unit, a knowledge-rich curriculum is planned vertically and horizontally giving thought to the optimum knowledge sequence for building secure schema – a kinetic model for materials; a timeline for historical events; a sense of place; a framework for understanding cultural diversity and human development and evolution. Attention is also given to known misconceptions and there is an understanding of the instructional tools needed to move students from novice to expert in various subject domains.
We have worked with a number of other schools to develop a Whole School Progression Plan – Nursery to Year 6, Year Specific Detailed Plans and PowerPoint Lessons to accompany these.
How do we teach a Knowledge Based Curriculum?
Each lesson taught contains the following techniques which aim to make the knowledge 'stick'...
Prior Learning tasks: Big Question, No Hands-up Questioning, Picture Prompt, Vocabulary Check, Timeline, Knowledge Organiser, Multiple-Choice Quiz, True/False, Which Word?
Direct Teaching: Teacher Led, Introduce Knowledge in Small Chunks, High Challenge/Low Threat, Use pictures, maps, stories, interactive materials and visuals where appropriate
The Power of Stories: ‘Humans are hard-wired for stories’ - Stories are easy to remember, People like stories, You have to think about the story’s meaning throughout, The structure of a story provides memory aids.
Creative Planning in Purposeful Application of what they have learned in the Lesson - Tasks: Apply what they have learned, Link with other areas of the curriculum e.g. English, Often Independent, Often produces a written outcome, Makes them think about what you want them to think about.
Vocabulary Activities: Visual Prompts, Show Me, Follow Me, Role Play, True/False, Definitions, Which Word?, Splat!
How do we embed a Knowledge Based Curriculum?
Of course, we recognise that this learning has to be developed further to ensure that it is embedded: we cannot rely on the lessons alone. The children learn to recognise that their learning in lessons can be continued past the bell...
The Classroom as a Teaching Tool: Our classroom displays always feature the following - Title: Subject and Unit, Knowledge Organiser, Key Vocabulary and definitions, Helpful diagrams and pictures, Images of key people, Timeline, Maps and flags, Children’s questions and responses, Children’s Work
Key Pupil Documents and Books: The pupils are given access to the following for them to reflect and build on their own learning in their own time - Knowledge-Organiser Class File, Essential ‘Tool Kit’ Pencil Case, Homework Book, Class Pupil Books (Science: Whole Class – Exploration ‘What is done in the lesson’ Activity to demonstrate their learning. Individual Pupil Books – ‘Show what you know’).