During the summer, teachers were invited to participate in curriculum writing for their subject matter and grade level to create curriculum maps following the curriculum development process adopted during the 2011-2012 school year using the process defined below:
Over 500 teachers participated and walked through the process that began with vertical articulation, defining what the discipline looks like K-12 (topics, content, standards, assessment). This process helped identify repetitions are various grade levels that needs to be eliminated. For example, there is no need to re-teach a piece of literature once it has already been covered.
Next, they looked at horizontal alignment, identifying what all 1st grade teachers need to teach, what all Algebra I teachers need to teach, etc., according to the new Common Core standards. During the horizontal process, curriculum maps are developed, then units of study, then lessons for each unit, along with research and resources required.
Mandy Mobley, 5th grade Owl Creek teacher commented at the July School Board meeting, “Teachers in my team loved being able to share strategies and resources while creating the curriculum maps. This will be especially beneficial for consistency for mobile students.” Karie Sutton, 2nd grade Washington teacher added, “In collaborating with the literacy coaches, we have completed both 1st and 2nd quarter units and have reviewed the required and recommended supplemental texts so we are no longer scrambling for books at the last moment.” Bary Hart, Holt music teacher and member of the Curriculum Coordinating Council, applauded the efforts for providing awareness not only of their own particular content areas but other content areas that will help them create interdisciplinary units. He added, “This have been very valuable for the encore teachers to have the time to collaborate across the district. It has been invaluable for teachers to have been part of this process.” Finally, Meme Hagers, Vandergriff music teacher, exclaimed, “We have been longing for this common thread, the joy of collaboration!”
Joseph Betz, 8-9th grade social studies teacher at Woodland Junior High School had this comment: “I worked with the 9th grade teachers during the June 6-7 swap days. The 2011-2012 was the first year that we taught regular and pre-AP Civics / American Government in 9th grade after years of teaching American history. Because the content was new, we spent lots of time working individually through the last school year to master the new content, develop instructional activities for our 9th grade students, and prepare assessment tools. The curriculum work we did in June came right after the school year ended, and after having a week or two to reflect on the results of the school year, and the PD sessions gave us the time we needed share what teaching strategies worked during the year for our students and why. We were able to talk about specific teaching activities we used in the classroom, which gave me some neat new ideas to use for the upcoming year. As a group, as we started to map out the 9th grade year in social studies, we were able to put what we found to be successful for our students into the curriculum map. We still have work to do before we're finished, but we're off to a good start and I feel like I've got some great new ideas to use in the classroom this fall.”
And Lynda Haley-Brothers, FHS 12th grade English teacher added: “It was really good just to have time to talk with colleagues at grade level in our departments. Spending time comparing what each of us does, and turning that into shared concepts and ideas to put to work in our classrooms was very valuable, and something we have often wished we had time to do. I hope that in subsequent sessions, we have time to work with colleagues in a 9-12 session so we can really focus on how those ideas move from grade level to grade level.”
From this point forward, specific in-service days within the coming school year have been set aside to let this work continue. Parents or students may want to see the curriculum maps and learn about expectations for Common Core. The district will make sure to communicate the curriculum information out on the web site and begin the process of including everyone in this exciting new venture. As Mrs. Kay Jacoby, Executive Director for CIAA said, “We will all have a role in this as we monitor for the implementation of the plan.”