The District wide curriculum development efforts are in full swing! The English language arts (ELA), social studies, math and science committees are meeting biweekly to design a continuum of instruction across all grade levels. The committees are composed of a dedicated and professional team of teachers who are committed to enhancing the current Learning Expectations by thoughtfully planning for a student’s learning from kindergarten to the sixth grade. The opportunity to work as a cohesive cross grade group has made this process more dynamic and inclusive. Although teachers meet frequently within their own grade level, most teachers rarely get the time to consult with teachers from higher or lower grade levels. By designing curriculum through the grades, we hope to create a seamless progression of skills necessary for every student to be successful in the Norfolk Public Schools.
The ELA committee is looking at the five literacy strands presented in the ELA Common Core. We have started to develop Norfolk writing standards/expectations for each grade level. The discussions have been insightful and reflective as this complex curriculum development process unfolds. Once the committee has determined, “What every student should know and be able to do in writing” at each grade level, the work of creating assessments that will provide evidence of that learning will begin.
The social studies committee is working collaboratively to create a scope and sequence for mapping skills across the grade levels. The District is investigating geography software called Stratalogica that will allow students and teachers to integrate literacy, technology and geography skills.
The Learning Expectations for mathematics were published in the fall. Now, the committee is working on a variety of tasks. As part of a tri-town mathematics group (with Plainville and Wrentham), who met all summer and again recently, we are working to ensure that all three towns are working on curriculum that not only meets the standards, but also ensures a natural flow into the middle school. The group wrote I Can statements – a document that takes the Common Core and writes it in terms and objectives that are easy for teachers and students to understand. The committee is now examining the three documents (I Can, Learning Expectations, Common Core) for consistency. More importantly, the committee is working to align Everyday Mathematics to meet the shifts in the Common Core. This entails examining all units of study and deleting, moving, or supplementing the current program, as well as developing enrichment opportunities. This realignment will be complete for implementation in September 2012.
The science committee is examining the topics taught at each grade level. They are aligning those units to the Massachusetts Science Curriculum Frameworks. As this is being done, we are compiling a list of new curriculum materials needed to use to instruct and enrich the students. By the end of the summer, the committee will have completed the draft of the Learning Outcomes document for science. The next step will be designing units of study using Understanding By Design.