How We Build Studies Weekly Curriculum
How Curriculum Was Built in the Past
Past publications had been written through a crowdsource approach with freelance educational writers. We found that, like most, these writers had inherent biases that affected their writing. At the time, Studies Weekly did not have strict author, editor, and quality assurance systems in place to counter those narratives properly, so we engaged a Diversity Board. That Diversity Board, although well-intentioned, was not expansive and state-specific enough to take our curriculum to the level of sensitivity now required by states and districts.
How Curriculum is Built Today
In the past, Studies Weekly’s contributing writers also took liberties to make the content fun and whimsical. Now, our focus is on creating engagement while remaining factual and unbiased. After massive efforts to build the right internal processes and transition to LEAN product development, Studies Weekly now manages the process completely in-house, only using SMEs (subject matter experts), primary source documents and scholarly resources. We refer to multiple primary sources to avoid editorializing, so students learn to analyze legitimate sources and make their own inferences.
We provide publications devoid of any political agenda because family and community interactions should guide every student’s beliefs. Studies Weekly has no intention of rewriting history. Instead, we want to more accurately provide articles that are not one-sided, portray the complexities and nuances of human nature within events, and include diverse voices in each time period. To do so, we partner with scholars that include those from different racial, religious, and underrepresented communities of diverse cultures and perspectives. In addition, we’ve incorporated extensive DEI training and workshops into our schedule to raise the awareness level of every team. This ensures that we are honoring frames of reference beyond those of a single viewpoint.
By learning to master product management, we have connected with state-specific experts to assist in the research for each publication. Our teams are pedagogy, design, and publishing experts, and include local specialists that inform the blueprints for their state. The local specialists are leaders and educators who provide information on their regions, tribes, culture, resources, industries, communities, economics, and other unique aspects. This in-depth research allows us to represent groups within each state as they choose to be represented.
Each publication is written with oversight from subject matter experts such as indigenous tribal chiefs and other ethnic minority leaders. These articles are written in collaboration with local educators, and other notable contributors, such as:
- A literacy specialist with a Governor’s Office of Student Achievement
- The TK-12 history coordinator for a County Superintendent of Schools
- A curriculum and literacy professor at a major university
- A Social Studies content advisor with a State Department of Education
- The project lead for Act 70 Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Violation Education for the General Assembly
- A county teacher mentoring program director
- A county professional development specialist
- Ed.D. and Ph.D. contributors and collaborators
- Curriculum directors from districts across the country
The company has also expanded our in-house curriculum team by 9X, including two Chief Curriculum Architects, two Product Managers, and many more qualified instructional designers, illustrators, and graphic designers. Because we began moving to LEAN Agile processes and workflows, this shift to industry best practices allowed us to increase our content production.
Here is a rough outline of the vetting protocol that we are now continually expanding and refining:
Blueprinting and Specifications
- The Curriculum Architect and Curriculum Director work with standards, unpacking documents or frameworks. State-specific experts design the scope and sequence.
Creation/Revision of Content
- Curriculum Specialists create articles and lesson plans using guidelines and standards from the specification sheet.
- Content evaluations by indigenous tribal leaders, scholars, and experts for diversity, equity, and inclusion issues.
- State-level cohorts with state-specific educators review and provide feedback about the product being drafted.
Review of Written Content
- A Content Editor reviews for accuracy, bias, and appropriateness.
- A Curriculum Director reviews for accuracy and standards criteria.
- A Copy Editor ensures accurate information.
Pre-press Product Review
- A Designer and Junior Designer review the content before the layout.
- The Audio Recorder reads through the content, narrating each word.
- Review by the development team (Curriculum Specialist, Content Editor, Designer, Junior Designer, and Team Lead) and then by the Design Manager, Illustration Supervisor, Curriculum Director, and Chief Product Officer.
- Final review by the Design Manager, Illustration Supervisor, Curriculum Director, Chief Curriculum Architect, and Chief Product Officer.
- A Copy Editor performs the last press check.
We have heavily invested in ongoing professional development, cultural perspective training, and seminars for our in-house content creators to instill greater awareness as we conceptualize and design our curriculum programs.
Studies Weekly also hired a product maintenance team that is responsible for ongoing improvements, addressing concerns, and adjusting product components to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers. As a dedicated team, they work year-round on refining current publications without impacting the development of new products.
In addition to these innovations, our periodical style format has allowed us to become more nimble, replacing entire publications and assisting in our goal to update the K-5 curriculum for all 50 states. Recently we delivered mid-cycle updates for California and Texas, even providing a new K-5 curriculum in Florida before their upcoming adoption cycle.
We have also introduced an updated student/teacher portal with new features like ‘Extended Reading’ articles that allow us to provide more information and perspectives than we were able to in the past.
Studies Weekly has spent the last couple of years updating and completely rewriting the curriculum that reflects our current team’s superior skills, standards, and professionalism and aligns with the latest educational strategies and state standards. We will maintain this ongoing self-review to ensure that we continue evolving as a content provider.