Some teachers have more freedom in constructing class curriculum

April 25, 2019 — by Andrew Li and Alan Zu

After junior Brian Zhu started a petition for the school to offer the Intro to Business class and received well over 100 signatures, AP Physics teacher Kirk Davis agreed to teach the class. Despite the course being heavily based on student interest, Davis will need to go over lessons he feels are important through a purely self-made syllabus.

The Intro to Business class is not the only class that has required the teacher to craft their own curriculum. Many teachers use different lesson planning methods: some opt for a lecture-based format and a test every few weeks, while others incorporate more projects and other types of group work. This approach is often seen in English classes, especially those taught at the Honors and AP level.

 

Intro to Business

Twelve years ago, the administration decided to stop offering the Intro to Business course because not enough students were signing up.

The elective does not have any state standards unlike required and AP classes.

While constructing the curriculum, Davis, a former executive in industry before becoming a physics teacher, believes the class should cover everything a person needs within a business: marketing sales, finance, management and operations.

Davis plans on covering aspects regarding finance because he feels that it is knowledge students cannot get anywhere else.

“There's no class even in business school or anywhere else on personal finance, so there are some principles that I feel are important,” Davis said. “I'll go over them as well.”

In an effort to help juniors and sophomores attending the class to be able to understand future concepts easier, Davis plans to review the basic concepts of business.

Although freshmen are allowed to take the class, Davis prefers only upperclassmen because “juniors and seniors read at a higher level and have better discussion than sophomores and certainly freshmen.” Davis, describing the difficulty of the readings, also said that adults would struggle with some of the them too.

After taking the class, students should be able to fully understand how a business operates and be able to set up a mock business as a final project, he said.

Davis foresees students working for several weeks on creating whatever type of mock business they want. Past students have came up with various product ideas, ranging from Indian-themed Vegas Casinos to controlled cans of spray-paint and durable notebooks.

“Someone came up with an idea with putting together a little kit [for painting house numbers on the curb] and selling them at Home Depot, and it was really interesting,” said Davis. “They almost got Home Depot to put it together for them.”

 

AP English and MAP

English teacher Jason Friend has a similar approach in constructing his AP English Language and MAP classes. Friend first includes what is required to teach; then he includes anything he feels is interesting and good for students to know.

Friend feels that the AP English Language and MAP courses lend themselves to creative activities.

“I have a great deal of freedom in deciding what readings and lessons to use to teach required skills,” said Friend. “I do a ton of curriculum planning for all of my courses, which I find to be a very interesting and fulfilling part of my job.”

Friend has also decided to have a creative project as the final at the end of the year. However, Friend is more traditional in his fall semester finals. In the fall, students answer traditional multiple-choice questions, followed by a essay section.

One creative project Friend assigns is a discussion board emulating the New York Times Magazine’s Ethicist column, where readers seek help with moral dilemmas. In the project, students answer each other’s ethical dilemmas on Canvas discussions. Another project focuses on effective advertising; Friend’s MAP students design banner ads to apply principles they learn in class.

“Mr. Friend is a good friend to have,” senior Eric Huang said. “Overall, Mr. Friend’s class is very fun because of how loose the class is.”

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