Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.
As a high school business teacher, you know the feeling of dread when you discover that your favorite materials have gone out of date. Suddenly, you need to revise your lesson plans in a short time period.
If this is you, you might be anxious over the prospect of having to replace all or most of your materials and nervous because you don’t have much time to solve your problem. You might not even know how much of your curriculum is out of date. If one item is no longer current, how many others will you need to revisit?
In this article, you’ll learn about four steps that will help you revise or replace your course materials with content that is up to date and engaging:
Gather Your Materials
Conduct a Curriculum Audit
Identify How Much of Your Material is Out of Date
Find a Solution Based on Your Audit Results
After reading this post, you should be able to recognize the signs of outdated materials and better understand how to bring your curriculum up to date.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
To better understand the extent of your curriculum that you need to bring up to date, it’s pertinent to take a broad look at all of the materials you plan to use for your course. These materials can include a variety of content, such as resources you may have used in the past or materials left behind by other teachers.
We recommend that you gather your materials so that you can survey them visually and take account of all of your course content at the same time.
Some common types of teaching materials you should review include:
Exercises and activities
When you have your materials, you’re ready to start your audit.
Step 2: Conduct a Curriculum Audit
Once you have all of your materials assembled, you should conduct a curriculum audit. A curriculum audit is simply a detailed inventory and inspection of all the resources for a particular course.
The objective of your audit is simple: you want to ensure that all of the content in your course is current, accurate, and relevant to your students. To accomplish this, you’ll need to check for several different signs of an outdated curriculum.
Specifically, ask yourself these questions:
Does your content meet your objectives?
Is your content accurate and relevant?
Has the technology in your classroom changed?
Below, you’ll get a closer look at each of these criteria.
Does Your Content Meet Your Objectives?
The first criterion you should check for in a curriculum audit is whether or not your resources satisfy course standards. Your state’s department of education usually sets down the requirements for your business courses. They include specific measures that each teacher must meet in their instruction and assessment.
In addition to NBEA and state standards, you should also account for the requirements for business education certification tests. Many high school students are now pursuing certifications as a way to distinguish themselves from their peers.
Once you know what your course objectives are, you must ensure your content follows the latest version of those standards and certifications.
As you complete your audit, note wherever your information doesn’t align with your course objectives. Also, take into account any measures you haven’t addressed. It is paramount that you update all of this content right away.
Is Your Content Accurate and Relevant?
Accuracy and relevancy are key qualities of an up-to-date curriculum. It’s critical that your students receive information that is both correct and relevant to today’s workplace. Accurate and relevant information ensures that your students will perform better on exams and certification tests and is more likely to keep them engaged.
When faced with dated pictures, irrelevant examples, and out-of-touch classroom exercises, your students are liable to lose touch with course material. Without pertinent, contextualized content to latch on to, learners find it more challenging to retain essential information. By contrast, updated materials with examples that speak to today’s students go a long way toward helping them master the material.
As you complete your audit, note every time your resources include dated information. Use your best judgment to determine whether an example or activity is relevant to your current students.
Has the Technology in Your Classroom Changed?
Teachers are often surprised by changes and upgrades to technology that affect their classrooms. When a school adopts new software or hardware, instructors often have very little time to prepare before using the latest technology with students.
Business education teachers are especially vulnerable to changes in technology because of the amount of time students spend using computer-based programs and resources. Every time your school changes the version of a program your students use, you need to quickly learn about the changes yourself before teaching students the new version of the program.
Situations like these will often require you to create brand new lesson plans to replace those based on the technology your school used previously. For example, a change from Microsoft Office 2016 to Office 365 dramatically affects how you teach your students and use those materials in your class.
While auditing your materials, record wherever there has been a technological change that impacts your instruction. Note also if this has been a frequent occurrence.
Once you’ve audited for these three criteria, you’ll be ready to assess the amount of your material that needs to be updated.
Step 3: Identify How Much of Your Material is Out of Date
Having completed your curriculum audit, you’re now ready to take a closer look at which materials you’ve flagged as no longer meeting your course standards, inaccurate or irrelevant, or based on outmoded technology. After looking at your materials, you might be surprised by how many of your lesson plans need revision.
As a result of your course materials audit, you might find that only a few of your lessons are out of date. In this case, most of your curriculum is ready for your students, but there are some places where you can revise your plans to keep them current. You’ll only need a smaller solution to meet your needs.
On the other hand, if you find that all or most of your materials have become outdated after reviewing your lesson plans, you should consider a more comprehensive solution to replace your dated curriculum.
If you aren’t sure which scenario you’re in, ask yourself if you are willing and able to replace the outdated plans yourself.
Replacing outdated course materials can feel daunting for many teachers, but remember, it's essential to make sure your resources are current, so you can provide your students with precisely what they need.
Step 4: Find a Solution Based on Your Audit Results
Now that you know what portion of your material is out of date, you’re ready to determine the solution that will best suit your situation. Each classroom is unique, so you should consider what is best based on your students’ needs and the number of teaching materials you need to replace.
Below, you’ll find advice on what to do, based on the amount of your material that is outdated.
What To Do If a Small Amount of Material is Out of Date
Sometimes, you find that only a handful of your teaching materials are no longer current. Thankfully, the solution to improving a curriculum with just a few areas of outdated resources is relatively straightforward.
In this scenario, you can modify your course content by searching for replacement materials for the outdated lessons. When you find new supplementary resources, you can integrate them into your curriculum to quickly update your course.
Often, you can use this method of recourse if you are experiencing minor changes to your course standards. You can find effective lesson plans addressing the new standards and include them in your regular teaching materials.
What To Do If a Large Amount of Material is Out of Date
Suppose, after a thorough audit of your course content, you discover that a significant portion of your curriculum is dated. In that case, you’ll need to take more drastic measures to ensure you are offering current and compelling courses to your learners.
While you can patch your curriculum with supplementary materials, this is far from the most efficient way to address your challenge. Because your time and resources are limited, you are better served by selecting a whole new curriculum. A new curriculum is up to date from the start and saves you the trouble of individually replacing old material.
Teachers with significant portions of outdated curriculum typically choose from two types of comprehensive business curriculum::
We’ll look at each option in more detail to help you decide if one is a good fit for your classroom.
Business Education Textbooks
Textbooks are a reliable choice for teachers who want a complete curriculum for their entire course. Textbooks provide complete lesson plans for teachers and their students along with related exercises and activities.
Since many textbooks also come with a teacher’s edition, you’ll have a blueprint to guide your instruction and engage your students.
Digital Business Education Curriculum
Another option many instructors choose for their business education classes is a digital curriculum. Digital curriculum can help teachers save time planning and grading by offering a comprehensive portfolio of teaching materials.
It’s also regularly updated, which keeps materials current despite changes to standards and technology.
How to Decide Whether a Textbook or Digital Curriculum is Right for You
Dealing with outdated lesson plans and curriculum resources can be a frustrating challenge as a business teacher. When you are continually confronted with old examples, inaccurate information, and technology changes, you can often spend more time than you realize searching for new lesson plans to bring your curriculum up to date.
Thankfully, there are ways to fix your outdated materials so you can focus on teaching your students. By conducting a curriculum audit, you can determine how much of your curriculum is out of date.
If you think the best solution for your classroom is adopting a brand new curriculum, you probably have questions about whether a textbook or digital curriculum is right for you.