Curriculum Overview

students working traditional program

The curriculum of the Holliston Public Schools is aligned to the learning standards outlined in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.  Holliston Public Schools has adopted Understanding by Design, a framework developed by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins, as an approach to the development of curriculum.  Understanding by Design (UbD) is a common approach to the development of meaningful standards-based curriculum.  UbD is broken up into three stages:

PHASE I -- The BIG IDEAS of a content area are the focus are framed into Enduring Understandings -- meaningful learning outcomes for students.  These Enduring Understandings often include concepts of enduring value and relevance such as patterns in math, conflict in social studies, and culture in language.  The Enduring Understandings often clarify common misconceptions, lead to sophisticated interpretations, yield new perspectives, and generate empathy and self-knowledge.  Enduring Understandings are paired with Essential Questions -- engaging questions that motivate students to learn and find the answer.  The educators also define the requisite skills and knowledge required for students to learn through the course of the unit.

PHASE II -- Educators define what acceptable evidence looks like.  The assessments that are used which will allow the students to demonstrate their Enduring Understandings are matched in this part of curriculum design.  Holliston educators use a variety of different types of assessments in order to capture students' learning.

PHASE III -- Educators define the learning experiences that will engage students in answering the Essential Questions and in successfully demonstrating their Enduring Understandings on the assessment(s).  UbD is sometimes called "backwards design" since the learning experiences are planned at the end of the development process, after the overall learning objectives are defined.  

Academic Vision

"Every  student in Massachusetts has access to a safe and supportive school environment that cultivates academic curiosity and confidence. Students have equitable access to an excellent education. Students read meaningful texts across content areas, work on complex real-world problems, participate in the arts, and share their ideas through speaking and writing using evidence, all in an effort to understand the world, their personal identities and their roles in the world.

Instruction is most powerful when educators have strong content knowledge and access to high-quality instructional materials and professional learning that promote inclusive practice accessible to all students, including English learners and students with disabilities; support authentic, engaging, and interdisciplinary student learning experiences; and invest families and students in their learning.

 To support standards-based learning, we believe that every student should engage:

  • with grade-appropriate text every day

  • with meaningful real-world problems every day

  • in scientific conversations using data every week

… in a school environment that supports social-emotional learning, health, and safety.”

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education