Rigorous, Relevant &
Relational Curriculum

Rigor, relevance and relational, (the three – R’s of the Common Core philosophy) are also at the root of the NGSS design principles. These come to life through the use of advanced web-based technology that empowers the students to have a sense of control over the distribution of the content and the rate at which they traverse the learning material… All while learning how to survive the end of everything!

The Three R’s Applied

The AREA154: Apocalypse Division curriculum provides access to researched based realworld situations that require the students to utilize a wide range of analytical skills and internet search techniques to acquire the key pieces of support information. In turn, this information then becomes important cognitive scaffolding for learning and remembering chemical and physical science curriculum. “An impression may be so exciting  emotionally as almost to leave a scar upon the cerebral tissue” (James, 1890. p670). James wrote this quote some 120 years ago, and this statement still applies to our own experiences today. While the science classroom may not present the same level of emotional excitement as a car accident, being robbed, winning the lottery or a first kiss, experimental evidence strongly suggests that emotional impact affects memory and recall.

Experiments conducted by Leventon (2005) on the impact of emotional, sensory input and memory provided evidence that not only does emotionally intense input increase recall, but children of different ages are affected differently. In an experiment conducted for his dissertation, children between the ages of 7 and 11 and another group between 9 and 12 years-old. Both groups experienced a series of emotionally intense emotionally neutral images. The researchers then split the emotionally intense images into negative and positive emotional stimuli. Upon exposure to those images, at the fMRI  dodule upon the students head would register the electromagnetic signal produced by the temporal lobe. The intense of the electrical signal, which occurs very close to 300 milliseconds after exposure. This signal was designated the p300 peak, and it was used as a reference to indicate the intense it of any emotional impact felt by the viewer (Hajcak, MacNamara, & Olvet, 2010). The results of these experiments indicated a statistically significant connection between negative images and older students and positive emotional images and younger students.

Leventon did not provide any experimental data to explain the results, however, hypothesized about the cause. The suggestion centered around the maturity of the brain’s neural wiring. Younger students do not have the advanced neural brain wiring that older students possess (2010). High school students, being at the older end of the experimental data pool, would most likely appear more sensitive to emotionally negative (fear, anxiety, threats to safety) than they would other stimuli represent more positive emotions (love, comfort, joy).

A New Kind of Student

The volume of studies done on the affect of lower income on academic performance has always produced the same conclusion. Lower income students are far less likely to succeed in school. The research on identifying a cause or causes for this result are far less conclusive. Laccor and  Tissington (2011) revealed that among the members of a low SES student’s family the mother has the most impact on the students perceptions and  success academically. Furthermore, the study also indicated that students from wealthier homes participated in far more experience building activities than low income peers. This data, along with other studies that have linked learning with life experiences, the operational philosophy in AREA154 is to build the educational experience around the experiential schemata that Hollywood has produced for the students. There is nothing inherently broken about “traditional” science curriculum. However, several factors stand in the way of student engagement. The list provided here is a short view into some engagement blocks that derail students’ ability to engage in a more traditional curriculum:

“Life Experience”

The life experiences encourage and promote new neural connections that open the brain up to new possibilities, new information, and making new connections. As the brain will do this automatically if there is enough information for the student to solve the dissonance, low SES students will resist this task. The resistance doesn’t come out of spite or oppositional defiance, it originates from not thinking one has the capacity to make the connections and have the information stick. More life experiences mean more neurosensory data to attach academic learning to and be able to retain it.

“Stimulus competition”

In wildly increasing numbers, students are diverted from classroom learning by activities on their personal devices of Chromebook that have a far greater emotional return. Traditional curriculum is just hopelessly outgunned and without a significant emotional stimulus at home (i.e. parents) willing to make school success more emotionally gratifying than Instagram. The ‘drama’ of this program was designed to help give learning a
new dramatic edge to keep learners engaged.

“Comfort forces forgetting”

The AREA154: Apocalypse Division curriculum design attempts to destabilize ones sense of comfort in an attempt to use that dissonance to motivate students to want to know how to survive. Beyond race, religion, language, gender, or species the drive to survive is very strong. The program then attempts to utilize situational emotion to help embed
factual information. The following list provides a summative analysis of each segment of the AREA154: Apocalypse Division curriculum.  Additionally, each content area will have specific examples of course rigor, relevance, and social collaboration with peers both inside the class and outside the class.