6-12 Curriculum Newsletter

May 2018

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Finish Strong: Choose Rigor over Fluff

The word 'rigor' has been widely used in education, often times as a way to describe the quality, relevance, and difficulty of activities and lessons. While this may be true in certain aspects, rigor has a specific meaning in mathematics.

Rigor refers to a balance of 3 essential tenets in the math classroom:

  • Developing conceptual understanding;
  • Procedural skill and fluency;
  • Application of skills in problem solving.

How does rigor impact teaching and learning?

Rigor does not mean giving more worksheets or problems to solve. Rigor is when we carefully plan experiences using quality tasks, rich conversations, and good questions. These experiences allows students time to make connections, discover patterns and number relationships, and clarify their thinking through meaningful discourse.

Let's take a look at the following two classroom lessons. Which one elicits mathematical reasoning and rigor?

Classroom A - Students are told that when multiplying a number by 10, they should simply add a 0 to a number. The students practice the skill with a series of computations. Their teacher is please that the computations are correct.

Classroom B - In another classroom, the teacher begins by posing the same computations, asking students to use base-ten blocks to find the product. As they record the product on the board, the teacher asks them to observe the data, and asks: What do you notice?

In both classrooms, students were able to find the solutions, but the students who investigated the patterns were able to make sense of their observations and develop and justify the rules, rather than being told a shortcut in isolation.

FINISH STRONG - Increase rigor in your class today with the following resources:

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A Powerful Way to End the School Year

Year mapping allows students to see what they’ve learned in your class, and it’s a great resource for your incoming class.

One of our strategies that teachers enjoy using at the end of the school year is a practical, easy-to-use tool we call Celebrating Learning With Year Mapping. This activity gives your current students a chance to feel good about what they’ve learned and provides incoming students an opportunity to see real evidence that they can be successful learners in the coming school year. And it gives teachers a chance to enjoy seeing students share what they’ve learned and to internalize their successful teaching.

Several elements of this strategy make it a powerful way to end the school year with a positive experience, often much needed after testing is over and as a busy year comes to an end. With prompted recall, each student can remember learning events that mean the most to them. Year-end mapping utilizes the power of positive teacher-student relationships as well as personalized learning, summarizing, group learning, and organizing information graphically.

Excerpt from: Edutopia

The Arts:

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Strong Finish

We’re approaching the final weeks and students are getting restless; yet, there is still learning that must take place! How can we ensure that our students are learning and engaged when all they can think about is their summer vacation, especially after the long winter we had? Effective teachers will reach into their bag of tricks and make each day count! Here are a couple of helpful ideas:

Season specific work: Most students long for their spring and summer vacations, a time to kick back and relax, play in the pool, and enjoy the sun! What a great opportunity for music teachers to engage students in learning the perfect summertime soundtrack, or art teachers to take students outside to create open-air sketches, or sketch their dream vacation!

Collaboration: While students should be engaging in collaborative work all year, this time of the year is great for large-scale collaborative projects. For instance, music teachers can have the students create their own bucket band and then perform for the class. Art teachers can have students create a collaborative piece and then present to the class.

Kinesthetic Activities: During this time of the year, students need movement and active learning. Arts teachers can easily create learning centers for students to experiment and express themselves; or facilitate games such as musical chairs writing! When the music stops, pick up writing where the last person left off. For art, writing can include elements and principles, artists, or eras. For music, writing can include note values, rhythm exercises, and song lyrics to help memorize a piece.

Survey Students: Teachers can improve their practice by giving students a voice and asking them questions about their learning experiences. The following questions will give students a voice and provide teachers with input on how to alter instruction to help them perform better in class. Questions might look like this:

  1. What was your favorite lesson of the year? Why? (Project a list of projects as a reminder)

  2. What do you feel was the most valuable thing you learned this year? Explain.

  3. Is there anything that could have been done to help you learn better? Explain.

  4. What else do you feel is important to mention?

Remember to talk about constructive criticism and stress the importance of specific feedback.

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Dear Data Guy


As the year comes to a close, reflecting about the current year helps me to plan for my goals for the next year. Here are a handful of the questions I’m thinking about. I need the newsletter readers to help me answer.

  1. Did the i-Ready diagnostic and standards mastery data and corresponding reports in the system provide practitioners with timely information to improve student performance?

  2. Were all of the practitioners able to participate in data meetings on a consistent basis (informal and formal)? Was there a consistent structure to the data meetings? (Data protocol introduced this year.)

  3. Are staff utilizing Linkit! to access historical student data at the beginning of the school (new students and to view past student performance) in order to adjust instruction?

Take the survey HERE

Finally, if you are looking for summer reading, take a look at Dr. Tracey Severns’ recommended books page HERE or Dr. Victoria Bernhardt’s resources on continuous school improvement HERE.
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Danielson Do

4a: Reflecting on Teaching

Reflecting on your teaching practices should not just be about finding mistakes or harping on negative aspects. Look for positive things and celebrate them! Then, choose one or two areas where you can improve and work on those for the future.

You can use the following prompts to guide your reflection:

  • What are some things you accomplished this year that you are proud of?

  • What is something you tried in your classroom this year for the first time? How did it go?

  • What is something you would change about this year if you could?

  • What do you hope your students remember most about you as a teacher?

  • In what ways were you helpful to your colleagues this year?

Consider having students share in the experience of reflecting:

  • What are the two best memories you have of this year?

  • In what area do you feel you have improved in the most?

  • What are 3 new things you’ve learned, that you didn’t know at the start of the year?

  • What have you learned about yourself this year?

  • What are you most proud of this year?


Notes from Mr. Scotto

It's hard to believe we have arrived at the last month of school. I certainly hope that you will take some time (for yourself) to reflect on the 17/18 School Year. A reflective practice/mindset only help us improve our craft.

We are almost ready to launch our 2018 Summer PD Academy. Once again we have an amazing list of topics and an outstanding group of presenters (most of which are teachers). I anticipate the session descriptions and workshop registration will be released by mid-June.

Enjoy these final days with your students and colleagues.

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