DISPELLING CURRICULUM DESIGN MYTHS
District leaders and teachers have long known the value of introducing engaging, culturally relevant content into their classrooms to supplement traditional textbooks. Almost by definition, Publishers' "off the shelf' textbooks cannot meet the diverse needs, goals, and demographics of each of its district customers. I know this pain point firsthand having developed curriculum products at 3 of the country's largest K-12 Publishers over the past 20 years.
According to a recent Rand Study, to compensate for this deficiency well-meaning teachers spend up to 7 hours a week, after the school day, searching for gap-filling content. Alarmingly, the top 3 sources cited were Google, Pinterest, and Teachers Pay Teachers. Not that high quality content can never be found in these places, but the hit or miss nature of such unvetted materials causes concern with many of the Curriculum Leaders I have spoken with over the years. Custom curriculum creation is an effective solution to fill the content gap, but there are three common myths about it that should be dispelled.
THREE MYTHS OF CUSTOM CURRICULUM CREATION
MYTH 1: IT'S TOO EXPENSIVEMinimizing costs and maximizing available resources is important for schools even in the best of times.
At XanEdu Custom Publishing, we work very closely with the district curriculum team, and build out lessons, and curate local history content, that meets the district leader's vision. It is a very close collaborative effort, whether the new content supplements existing core curriculum, or is a book created for a new ethnic studies course. Although we deliver the final product in print workbook and eReader formats, we offer very competitive curriculum development pricing because we don't incur the "bells and whistles" platform cost that most publishers need pass along to support their core programs.
An even less expensive option is access to our new Do-It-Yourself custom curriculum platform. LessonLift has a high-quality content library of over 3,000 primary and secondary sources, which allows the educator to drag and drop, upload some of their own content, and instantly create workbooks and ebooks, utilizing the built-in eReader tool.
One of our early users of the platform was Laura Wynn, Program Specialist for Secondary Social Sciences at St Johns County School District (FL). Recounting her experience trying to build a book in time for Back to School 2022, Laura reflected, "In 2 weeks I was able to drag and drop hundreds of primary source documents from LessonLift's African American History, Women's History, and US History Collections, to create our district's new Exploring African American History high school electives book. It was great to see how quickly I could build a book utilizing the platform's content and tools."
MYTH 2: IT'S TOO COMPLICATEDWhile custom content offers numerous benefits to students, teachers, and administrators, the creation process can seem highly complex.
Most teachers and district administrators don't have experience in copyright law or preparing materials for printing, which can make custom content creation seem impossibly difficult. However, XanEdu's team of experts works hand-in-hand with districts and states across the country to help them navigate the creation process and simplify complex tasks like securing approval to use a copyrighted resource. XanEdu also handles the design and formatting of the curriculum files, as well as the printing and shipping of the subsequent books.
MYTH 3: IT TAKES TOO LONGFinding local historical assets, aligning to state standards, negotiating rights and permissions for desired content, and writing grade level, appropriate content is assumed to take way too long to meet critical back to school deadlines.
XanEdu's team of experts have years of curriculum development expertise. We assign a Project Manager and provide our district customers with a detailed timeline of the project, as well as a Milestone Check-in process to ensure all deadlines are met and the project is delivered to meet back to school deadlines.
NOW THAT THE MYTHS ARE DISPELLEDMany districts are challenged by finding an affordable, timely, and effective solution to the widespread Curriculum Gap problem. The common misconceptions were actually well founded for many years until Custom Curriculum Publishers, like XanEdu, started building solutions to meet their customer's needs. We are pleased to collaborate with districts to meet their goals and visions by offering a broad selection of content creation and book production services.