Complexity is identifying relationships between ideas, topics and disciplines. Sandra Kaplan, a professor from USC, created icons in order to help facilitate a deeper understanding of differentiation within the curriculum. The teachers at Sycamore Canyon use Kaplan’s icons within their instruction in order differentiate their core curriculum. Each icon represents a different layer or depth of the curriculum, as well as complexity or connections between different areas of study.
The icons include: (Depth) Language of the Discipline, Details, Rules, Patterns, Trends, Ethics, Unanswered Questions, Big Idea, (and Complexity) Relationships over Time, Multiple Perspectives, and Interdisciplinary Connections.
When a teacher uses Language of the Discipline within the curriculum they are asking students to use specific language or vocabulary related to that area. While this can be used in all subjects, math is a good example of where Language of the Discipline is essential for understanding (denominator, quotient) and adding depth.
Details are incorporated into the curriculum when students are asked to describe something in great depth, take something a part and analyze the attributes. An example of utilizing details within the classroom would be when a teacher asks students to describe a character from a story they are reading. Some students look at the surface level of that character and other students really look deeper into the attributes of the character.
Finally, the last icon is the Patterns. Students learn to look for patterns early in their childhood. Utilizing patterns in the curriculum is simply looking for reoccurring events. There is a predictable order where students can guess what will come next. Students become more analytical when they are looking for patterns within the content.