Parallel Curriculum Model: Components With Examples

In this article, we’ll be looking at Parallel Curriculum Model: Components With Examples

The Parallel Curriculum Model (PCM) was created by a team of educators including Carol Ann Tomlinson, Sandra N. Kaplan, Joseph S. Renzulli, Jeanne H. Purcell, Jann Leppien, Deborah E. Burns, Cindy A. Strickland, Marcia B. Imbeau in 2009. Its purpose was to engage and challenge students with high abilities. Drawing on theories of knowledge by James (1885), Novak (1990), Dewey (1938), and Mayer (2002), which divide knowledge into knowing, understanding, and applying through perspective-taking, the parallel curriculum empowers learners by giving them control over their education while fostering critical thinking and improved learning skills. While initially designed for gifted education, PCM has been adapted for all learners by incorporating different levels of intellectual rigor in the classroom, according to the work of Burns and colleagues in 2002.

The Parallel Curriculum Model (PCM) is an educational framework that aims to address the needs of diverse learners by providing a parallel set of curricular experiences. It was developed and has been widely used in gifted education and differentiated instruction.

The PCM recognizes that students have different learning styles, abilities, and interests, and seeks to provide a curriculum that accommodates these individual differences. It is based on the idea that a single curriculum cannot effectively meet the needs of all students, and therefore, parallel curricula should be developed to address various learning profiles.

Components

At its core, PCM is built on four essential components: core curriculum, curriculum of connections, curriculum of practice, and curriculum of identity. Each component focuses on different aspects of learning and aims to provide a well-rounded educational experience.

Core Curriculum

The Core Curriculum is the foundation of the Parallel Curriculum Model. It is designed to help students understand essential, discipline-based information, concepts, principles, and skills through the use of representative topics, inductive teaching, and analytic learning activities.

The Core Curriculum includes the following elements:

  1. Essential concepts: These are the big ideas that form the basis of a particular subject area. For example, in science, the essential concepts might include the laws of motion, the structure of the atom, or the process of evolution.
  2. Facts: These are the specific pieces of information that support the essential concepts. For example, in science, the facts might include the speed of light, the atomic number of carbon, or the date of Charles Darwin’s birth.
  3. Principles: These are the general rules or guidelines that govern how the essential concepts work together. For example, in science, the principles might include the law of conservation of energy, the theory of relativity, or the principle of natural selection.
  4. Skills: These are the abilities that students need to acquire in order to understand and apply the essential concepts, facts, and principles. For example, in science, the skills might include conducting experiments, analyzing data, or writing scientific reports.

The Core Curriculum provides a foundation for understanding and exploring more advanced topics in a subject area. It also helps students develop the skills they need to be successful in college and beyond.

Here are some examples of how the Core Curriculum can be used in the classroom:

  • A teacher might use the Core Curriculum to design a unit on the solar system. The unit would introduce students to the essential concepts of the solar system, such as the planets, the stars, and the galaxies. The unit would also teach students the facts about the solar system, such as the distance between the Earth and the Sun, the names of the planets, and the composition of the stars. The unit would finally teach students the principles that govern the solar system, such as the law of gravity and the theory of relativity.
  • A teacher might use the Core Curriculum to design a unit on the American Revolution. The unit would introduce students to the essential concepts of the American Revolution, such as the causes of the war, the key figures involved, and the outcome of the war. The unit would also teach students the facts about the American Revolution, such as the date the war started, the names of the key figures, and the major battles that were fought. The unit would finally teach students the principles that govern the American Revolution, such as the concept of freedom and the importance of democracy.

The Core Curriculum is an essential component of the Parallel Curriculum Model. It provides students with the foundational knowledge and skills they need to understand and explore more advanced topics in a subject area.

Curriculum of Connections

The Curriculum of Connections is one of the four components of the Parallel Curriculum Model. It is designed to help students make connections between different disciplines, time periods, cultures, places, and/or events. This parallel is designed to help students understand overarching concepts and principles as they relate to new content and content areas.

The Curriculum of Connections includes the following elements:

  1. Integrating subject areas: This involves finding ways to connect the concepts, principles, and skills from different subject areas. For example, a teacher might teach a unit on the American Revolution that integrates history, English, and civics.
  2. Making connections: This involves helping students see the relationships between different disciplines. For example, a teacher might help students see how the concepts of freedom and democracy are related to the American Revolution.
  3. Promoting a holistic understanding: This involves helping students see the big picture and understand how different disciplines fit together. For example, a teacher might help students see how the American Revolution was influenced by the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.
  4. Enhancing critical thinking skills: This involves helping students develop the ability to think critically about the connections between different disciplines. For example, a teacher might ask students to analyze how the American Revolution has been portrayed in different historical accounts.

The Curriculum of Connections is an important component of the Parallel Curriculum Model because it helps students develop a deeper understanding of the world around them. By making connections between different disciplines, students can see the big picture and understand how different parts of the world fit together. This helps them develop critical thinking skills and become more well-rounded learners.

Here are some examples of how the Curriculum of Connections can be used in the classroom:

  • A teacher might use the Curriculum of Connections to design a unit on the solar system. The unit would integrate science, math, and art. Students would learn about the planets, the stars, and the galaxies. They would also learn about the math concepts involved in calculating the distances between the planets and the stars. They would finally create art projects that depict the solar system.
  • A teacher might use the Curriculum of Connections to design a unit on the American Revolution. The unit would integrate history, English, and civics. Students would learn about the causes of the war, the key figures involved, and the outcome of the war. They would also read historical accounts of the war and write essays about the war. Finally, they would participate in a mock trial of a key figure from the war.

The Curriculum of Connections is an essential component of the Parallel Curriculum Model. It helps students develop a deeper understanding of the world around them and become more well-rounded learners.

Curriculum of Practice

The Curriculum of Practice is one of the four components of the Parallel Curriculum Model. It is designed to help students apply their knowledge and skills in real-world contexts. This parallel is designed to help students understand how the concepts and principles they are learning are used by professionals in the discipline.

The Curriculum of Practice includes the following elements:

  1. Applying knowledge and skills: This involves helping students use their knowledge and skills to solve problems and complete tasks in real-world contexts. For example, a teacher might help students design a science experiment that could be used to test a hypothesis.
  2. Engaging in hands-on activities: This involves providing students with opportunities to learn through doing. For example, a teacher might have students build a model of the solar system or conduct a mock trial.
  3. Problem-solving: This involves helping students develop the ability to solve problems in real-world contexts. For example, a teacher might have students work on a team to solve a mathematical problem or design a solution to an environmental problem.
  4. Authentic assessments: This involves using assessments that are relevant to the real world. For example, a teacher might have students give a presentation to a panel of experts or write a report that is published in a professional journal.
  5. Active learning: This involves providing students with opportunities to learn through inquiry, collaboration, and experimentation. For example, a teacher might have students work in groups to research a topic and then present their findings to the class.
  6. Collaboration: This involves helping students develop the ability to work effectively with others. For example, a teacher might have students work on a team to complete a project.
  7. Development of practical skills: This involves helping students develop the skills they need to be successful in college and beyond. For example, a teacher might help students develop their public speaking skills or learn how to use a particular software program.

The Curriculum of Practice is an important component of the Parallel Curriculum Model because it helps students develop the skills they need to be successful in college and beyond. By applying their knowledge and skills in real-world contexts, students can develop the ability to solve problems, think critically, and work effectively with others.

Here are some examples of how the Curriculum of Practice can be used in the classroom:

  • A teacher might use the Curriculum of Practice to design a unit on the solar system. The unit would involve students building models of the solar system, conducting experiments to learn about the planets, and giving presentations to the class about their findings.
  • A teacher might use the Curriculum of Practice to design a unit on the American Revolution. The unit would involve students researching the causes of the war, interviewing experts, and writing essays about the war. Students would also participate in a mock trial of a key figure from the war.

Curriculum of Identity

The Curriculum of Identity is the fourth and final component of the Parallel Curriculum Model. It is designed to help students develop their individual identities as learners and as professionals in a particular discipline. This parallel is designed to help students understand how the concepts and principles they are learning relate to their own lives, goals, and strengths.

The Curriculum of Identity includes the following elements:

  1. Recognizing and valuing students’ unique interests, talents, and aspirations: This involves helping students identify their own interests, talents, and aspirations. For example, a teacher might have students complete an interest inventory or reflect on their strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Providing opportunities for students to pursue their passions: This involves helping students find ways to pursue their passions within the context of the discipline. For example, a teacher might have students create a portfolio of their work or participate in a mentorship program.
  3. Exploring personal interests: This involves helping students explore their personal interests within the context of the discipline. For example, a teacher might have students read biographies of people who have made significant contributions to the discipline or visit museums or historical sites related to the discipline.
  4. Developing individual identities: This involves helping students develop their own identities as learners and as professionals in the discipline. For example, a teacher might have students write a personal statement about their goals for the future or create a vision board for their future career.

The Curriculum of Identity is an important component of the Parallel Curriculum Model because it helps students develop a sense of self as a learner and as a professional in a particular discipline. By understanding how the concepts and principles they are learning relate to their own lives, goals, and strengths, students can develop a stronger sense of self-efficacy and motivation.

Here are some examples of how the Curriculum of Identity can be used in the classroom:

  • A teacher might use the Curriculum of Identity to design a unit on the solar system for a student who is interested in astronomy. The unit would involve the student conducting research on the planets, building models of the solar system, and writing a personal essay about their passion for astronomy.
  • A teacher might use the Curriculum of Identity to design a unit on the American Revolution for a student who is interested in history. The unit would involve the student researching the causes of the war, interviewing experts, and writing a personal essay about their perspective on the American Revolution.

In summary, the Parallel Curriculum Model (PCM) is a comprehensive educational framework that seeks to challenge and develop the potential of advanced learners. By providing a multidimensional curriculum that addresses depth, complexity, and personalization, PCM aims to promote critical thinking, creativity, and intellectual growth. The model encourages integration, application, and individualization to meet the diverse needs of students.

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