Reflecting on our process, below are some tips that I can share. Hopefully you will find them helpful. Please comment so that I can learn from you.
1. Teach the Process: If teachers do not have experience creating units or using a particular curriculum design then do some pre-teaching. Before beginning, we had short mini-sessions on using UbD. We also had our instructional coaches work with teams to support them as the units were being developed. If you do not have instructional coaches, then lead teachers can be used in this role.
2. Resources: As units were being developed, teachers conducted an audit of resources. They took note of materials they had and ones that were needed to teach their units. Our district made a commitment to provide teachers with requested resources (big books, math manipulatives, online web subscriptions, etc.) in lieu of purchasing textbooks. We also focused our financial resources toward purchasing iPads and Chromebooks so our students can create, collaborate, and communicate globally.
3. Building Leadership: As I led the process at the district level, the building principals led the process in each of their buildings. This involvement and commitment from the principals were crucial. They were the daily cheerleaders, listeners, and helpers.
4. Time: There is never enough time but using it wisely is critical. Our district has early dismissals twice a month and for two years all of this time has been devoted to developing the units. In addition, each year teachers are provided with funds to be spent toward professional development or curriculum work. Most teacher teams used their money to purchase substitutes so that they could work on the curriculum. Principals also helped by finding creative ways within the building to provide extra time for the work. (Ex. Splitting staff when there was a school assembly - some supervised the students and some worked on curriculum) Finally, teams do not have to start their unit development from scratch. If they have a strong base, use units that are currently developed but critique them through a Common Core lens. Eliminate content that is no longer needed. This is hard for some teachers but it is critical. There is not enough time to teach "favorite" units or lessons if they are not part of your new curriculum.
5. Culture: It is important to build a culture where teacher involvement in curriculum development is nurtured, supported, and accepted. Building teacher capacity for creating curriculum is supported in various ways in our district. We committed to hiring & supporting instructional coaches for sustained P.D., working in a PLC model, providing teachers with discretionary funds to support their own P.D. goals that are related to their S.M.A.R.T. goals, and creating an environment that supports learning through social media.
The process of developing integrated units is always a work in progress. Once the units are implemented, teachers need to be provided with time to reflect and revise their units based on student feedback and assessments. Teams have taken various approaches in doing this but autonomy is accepted and encouraged. Unit development isn't a quick, easy process but the benefits for students are immense and it is time well spent!