Welcome to the curriculum, instruction and assessment webpage. Within a span of a few years, we have experienced unprecedented changes in what we teach and how we assess. Among the most significant change is the shift to the college and career readiness standards in the Common Core Learning Standards. Every student needs 21st century knowledge and skills to succeed in college and the world of work. According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, educators have to be able to “fuse the content of English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, world languages, civics, government, history, geography and arts with critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, information and literacy technologies and creativity and innovation to ensure that students have what they need for success in college, careers and life”. Teachers will need to develop instructional models that foster inquiry, project based and problem based learning. Professional learning will be available to educators who may need help to transform instruction and learning and differentiate for students who will be challenged by the rigorous college and career readiness standards.
Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment
The Brewster Central School District has a dynamic and challenging curriculum that focuses on our mission, ‘Every Student a Success’. We recently began to map our curriculum to align to the new college and career readiness standards outlined in the Common Core Learning Standards. Over the past three years, the curriculum has changed dramatically. Professional Learning Communities at each school have spent the last few years getting acquainted with the new learning standards and adapting or adopting various curricular resources to support the instructional plan.
What is Curriculum?
Professional Learning Communities at each school work together to align courses to the college and career readiness standards. When students leave our school system as graduating seniors, they will enter college or the world of work where a high premium is placed on their ability to learn, un-learn and re-learn–dispositions that are key for success in our ever changing, diverse global society and market place. To meet this challenge, we need to ensure that our curriculum and learning experiences prepare young people for this reality.
Curriculum is a living, breathing document that is never finished or final, but describes our best thinking about what Charlotte Danielson describes as the big ideas that produce the best outcomes for students. These big ideas are framed through the following questions: “ what constitutes important learning, what causes learning, how are students motivated, and what is intelligence and how do students’ views influence their actions” (Talk About Teaching, 2009). We will create curriculum that “stretches” all students by encouraging them to embrace rather than be intimidated by rigorous content and demanding standards. The curriculum then has to increase opportunities for all students to display the following intellectual habits or dispositions (Partnership for 21st Century Skills):
- Think critically and make judgments
- Solve complex, multidisciplinary, open-ended problems
- Employ creativity and entrepreneurial thinking
- Communicate and collaborate
- Make innovative use of knowledge, information, and opportunities to create new ideas, solutions and products that have value in society
- Develop stamina and persistence
We will strive to revise curriculum maps to meet what Heidi Hayes Jacobs defines as the goals of curriculum mapping which are to ensure measurable improvement in student performance in targeted areas through data analysis and establish an ongoing process for the review of curriculum and assessment (Getting Results with Curriculum Mapping, 2004).
Focus on Text Complexity and Writing
An important goal across the grade levels is to ensure that the curriculum corresponds to the expectations of college and career readiness and represents the level of rigor that students are expected to meet. We want all students to be exposed to texts (digital and print) at the recommended levels of complexity for each grade level, with appropriate scaffolding and interventions for students who struggle and that there is a balance of informational and literary text exposure as suggested by the architects of the college and career readiness standards. We also want to ensure that students across all grade levels have ample opportunities to delve into the anchor standards for writing which include the following:
- write arguments to support claims,
- use informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and inform,
- draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis,
- conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based upon focused inquiry,
- develop personal, cultural, textual, thematic connections within and across the genres as they respond to texts through written,
- digital, and oral presentations, employing a variety of media and genres (CCLS, Anchor Standards for Writing, 2011)
What is Curriculum Mapping?
Heidi Hayes Jacobs defines two goals of curriculum mapping which are to “ensure measurable improvement in student performance in targeted areas through data analysis and establish an ongoing process for the review of curriculum and assessment.” (Getting Results with Curriculum Mapping, 2004)
The following statements further describe the purpose of curriculum mapping:
- The development of a written document that helps teachers translate the standards into actual classroom practice in terms of what and how they teach, and how they assess student mastery.
- A process for recording what content and skills are actually taught in a course, classroom, or school over a specified period of time.
- A description of the content taught and the amount of time spent teaching it.
- A school calendar is used as an organizer so that teachers describe or “map” a year’s curriculum in grading period “chunks” as it is actually taught.
Why is Curriculum Mapping Important?
Curriculum maps help schools and districts to:
- identify where gaps exist in the standards addressed;
- flag repetitions, redundancies and omissions;
- consistently define what rigor looks like across the school system;
- determine the appropriate sequencing and spiraling of concepts and skills;
- ensure measurable improvement in student performance in targeted areas through data analysis (Heidi Hayes Jacobs, 2004);
- establish an ongoing process for review of curriculum and assessment (Heidi Hayes Jacobs, 2004).
- When the maps are completed and the curriculum review team examines them, the curriculum maps will be available in the Google Curriculum site and accessible to all by logging into Google sites using district assigned email usernames and passwords.
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