The purpose of this assignment is to introduce candidates to the spiral curriculum.

Learning Objectives

Candidates will be able to:


This assignment will help us to address the following standards:

N.C Standard Course of Study

The standard addressed will depend upon which science topic the candidate reviews.


Standard 1: Content Pedagogy The teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline he or she teaches and can create learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful for students.

STANDARD 7: Planning The teacher plans instruction based upon knowledge of subject matter, students, the community, and curriculum goals.

STANDARD 9: Reflective Practice: Professional Development The teacher is a reflective practitioner who continually evaluates the effects of his or her choices and actions on others and who actively seeks out opportunities to grow professionally. 

NSTA Content Standards: Proposed for Fall 2004

Standard 6: Curriculum

a. Understand the curricular recommendations of the National Science Education Standards, and can identify, access, and/or create resources and activities for science education that are consistent with the standards.

b. Plan and implement internally consistent units of study that address the diverse goals of the National Science Education Standards and the needs and abilities of students.

NC Middle Level Science Content Standards

Standard 1:  Middle level science teachers should understand and use the main ideas in the life, physical, and earth sciences.

Standard 2:   Middle level science teachers demonstrate their knowledge and ability to unify concepts and processes in the life, physical, and earth sciences.


Standard 1:  Science Teachers understand the unifying concepts of science.

ISTE Standards (technology)

Standard 3. Teaching, learning, and the curriculum

Teachers implement curriculum plans that include methods and strategies for applying technology to maximize student learning. Teachers:
Facilitate technology-enhanced experiences that address content standards and student technology standards.

Assignment Directions

Candidates are to pair up with one another via the online Discussion Forum entitled "Spiral Curriculum." Once you have selected a partner, you will choose one of the topics below to read, research, and summarize. Partner names with the particular topic below must be posted. Once you have selected your partner and topic you must email the instructor.

Each group will identify the respective competencies for their topic in elementary, middle, and high school. Groups will examine the sprialing effect of the curriculum and identify any conceptual holes. Groups will create a flow chart illustrating the progression of the conceptual competencies through the K-12 curriculum.

The links provided in this folder are examples of flow charts or concept maps from the Science Literacy Atlas published by American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Click on these pdf documents to see how AAAS has shown the spiraling effect of the content topic. Do you agree? How does your diagram match up with theirs?

You will see that these are more concept maps will linking concepts at different levels of the curriculum. The 'flow' comes from the progression from early grades to later grades. These are called grade bands (k-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12). The abbreviations on the outside of the boxes (called "connections with clusters") indicate a particular theme. For example, the Inquiry map has ER, SI, ST, and AB. These abbreviations stand for Evidence and Reasoning in Inquiry (ER), Scientific Investigations (SI), Scientific Theories (ST), and Avioding Bias in Science (AB). These themes can be inferrred from shared benchmarks.

The codes within boxes indicate that the concept is found and connected with another in The Benchmarks for Scientific Literacy. The dotted arrows on the outside of the box inking to another concept(s) indicates that those concepts are on another flow chart in the Atlas.

Sample Flow Charts





I have also attached some previous flow charts from other students.

Plate Tectonics


Kinetic Molecular Theory

After you have created the flow chart you will see that the topics and sub-topics actually appear and reappear in mulitple and succeeding years. This is called the sprial curriculum in which a topic is introduced in the primary years, revisited in later years more rigoruosly, and then studied in detail in the high school years. Does your topic do this?

Post your group's results (flow chart) in the online discussion entitled "Spiral Curriculum" where you posted your pairings and topics earlier. Take a moment and view the other groups' flow charts.


There is no formal assessment for this Assignment.

 To Continue . . .

Click on the "Ok" button to return to the Session 4 section.  Click on the next folder in this session, Assignment 2  to continue.