By definition, it should be simple to create and set up an alternative curriculum, a course of study that is different from the national or provincial. Now try sitting down, taking all the resources that are provided in the regular course and creating a course of study. One that is going to be engaging, appealing, and most importantly one that still moves students forward, ensuring that they grow and learn, yeah not so easy.
I have been working in Special Education for, lets say a few years now, and I will admit that it has become a little easier, but that it still causes me some anxiety. You meet the kids that first day, take a week to gauge where they are academically, behaviorally, socially and emotionally, and then spend the next few weekends putting together a plan that attempts to meet the needs of all your students. If you feel overwhelmed at times, your are normal, remember that most curriculum’s and courses of study are put together by a large room full of individuals who are trying to teach the masses. Not to a select group of individuals, who have unique and differing issues aside from learning.
Most often my first approach at the alternative curriculum is to focus only on two core areas, which are math and language. The reasons, obviously language skills are essential in all other subject areas, and math is the other most commonly used subject. Secondly I build or use thematic units, which involves taking a single concept, for example animals in the arctic and building and working out from that.
Here is a quick example:
I usually run through about eight or nine thematic units in a school year. This is only one method in which I design and implement an alternative curriculum. The most important element that determines which method I use is . . . my students. My curriculum, pacing, set-up, organization and implementation depends on the abilities and personalities of my students. I fit my plan to my students not my students to my plan.
I hope that this has given, you the reader, some ideas when looking at creating your own alternative setting and also given you an idea as to how I approach my classroom and my students. I would love to say that there is one approach or that my approach or chosen curriculum works every time, but that would be giving you false information. I often reflect on the progress of my chosen method, and often make changes and transitions during the school year.