Sandra Kaplan developed a model to guide the construction of curricular units called The Grid. The Grid helps curriculum writers make decisions about an overarching theme, the essential elements of curriculum, and the format for the creation of learning experiences. Kaplan suggests that curriculum writers begin developing units by selecting a theme, rather than a topic, as the organizing element. Possible themes or concepts might be power, humor, extinction, the unexpected, or journeys.

The components of Kaplan's Grid are the theme, content, processes (e.g., productive thinking skills, research skills, and basic skills), and products. Affective concerns, descriptions of learning experiences, and activities are also important parts of her model.


The subject matter selected for the curriculum reflects knowledge that is mandatory for all students to learn, knowledge that is commensurate with the level of conceptualization and level of knowledge particular to the needs and interests of the students.


The skills and competencies students are expected to master include, but are not limited to, productive thinking skills, basic research skills, learning-to-learn skills, life skills, and the skills of technology. Rather than choose one set of skills, Kaplan suggests the integration of various categories of processes.


The communication or transmission of the knowledge and skills students have assimilated requires experiences (1) in a variety of media, including the latest forms of technology, and (2) with materials for appropriate and accurate production of the developed work. Products serve as a tool for learning as well as a way to communicate the synthesis and assimilation of both knowledge (content) and skills (process). Products must be allowed to be communicated in visual, oral, and written formats and result from a variety of production skills such as varied technology and materials, self-determined criteria for evaluation, and identification of formal and informal outlets to share the products.


The attitudes, appreciation and values introduced to students are an integral feature of, rather than an adjunct to, the curriculum. An understanding of the student as an individual and contribution, who values learning and productivity, and awareness of the roles and responsibility for leadership are some of the affective learnings to be included in the curriculum.

"Once the curriculum is differentiated, it needs to be individualized for students."