Overcoming Challenges with a New Curriculum

June 16, 2011
Audrey Stokes Associate Product Manager, Education
Common Sense Media
San Francisco, CA
CATEGORIES In the Classroom

What common challenges arise when teachers integrate a new curriculum with an existing curriculum?  How do you overcome those challenges? Mark Fujimoto and Christine Knecht from Quimby Middle School and Jim Conway from Smith Elementary School are all members of Evergreen Unified School District, and all are implementing Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship Curriculum alongside an existing curriculum in their classrooms.

Read on to learn how Mark, Christine, and Jim have worked through their challenges to successfully implement the Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship Curriculum.


Mark and Christine’s challenge: “Mr. Fujimoto and Ms. Knecht, we learned this in another class.”

The solution: Turn an overlap in curriculum into a teaching opportunity for students

Mark and Christine noticed quickly that some students had experience with the lesson material from other classes. These students were asked to help lead the lessons they were familiar with. Giving kids the chance to lead is a great way to reinforce what they already know, and student leaders may enrich the lesson by including points that are uniquely from a student’s perspective.


Jim’s first challenge: “I’ve already got a full teaching schedule”

The solution: Find opportunities within the existing curriculum to talk about Digital Citizenship

Jim’s teaching schedule was already packed with lessons from other subjects, so Jim read through the Digital Citizenship curriculum and looked for lessons that had similar concepts to lessons he was already planning to teach. Jim taught one to two Digital Citizenship lessons per week by substituting a lesson on Digital Citizenship for a similarly themed Social Studies or Science lesson. Even though Jim dropped some planned lesson material from his schedule, he was able to minimize the effect by pinpointing overlapping ideas between subjects.


Jim’s second challenge: “How can I assess my students’ progress?”

Solution: Make participation points count

Jim grades work from all the lessons he teaches, but he wasn’t sure how he could best assess his students’ work with Digital Citizenship. Jim created a “participation points” system for his Digital Citizenship lessons—a great way to encourage student engagement and classroom contribution.