Willingboro Public Schools
Dr. Ronald Taylor - Superintendent of Schools
CURRICULUM MATTERS - MONTHLY NEWSLETTER (SEPTEMBER 2018)
WPS has a never-ending commitment to creating and maintaining a guaranteed and viable curriculum that will ensure the academic success of our students. This newsletter is a part of this equation, helping to communicate our curricular happenings and instructional activities across grade levels and content areas to district educators, parents and students.
While all of our curriculum guides are available through an online database called edConnect, this newsletter is intended to provide a closer look at the some of the learning experiences and outcomes that our students undertake.
Please feel free to browse through the curriculum updates provided by our talented team.
Curriculum Writing & UbD
This past spring and summer, the Willingboro Board of Education approved a massive revision to over 85 of our courses in preparation for the 2018-19 school year. All of our curriculum guides utilize the Understanding by Design (UbD) methodology, written by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, that offers a framework for designing courses and content units called “Backward Design.”
The backward design approach has instructors consider the learning goals of the course first. These learning goals embody the knowledge and skills instructors want their students to have learned when they leave the course. Once the learning goals have been established, the second stage involves consideration of assessment. The backward design framework suggests that instructors should consider these overarching learning goals and how students will be assessed prior to consideration of how to teach the content. For this reason, backward design is considered a much more intentional approach to course design than traditional methods of design.
WPS Literacy Corner
“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” Maya Angelou
One might think that children and young adults who say they don’t like to read or who do not read well, won’t read. But it is never too late to turn a non-reader into a reader. One important job we have as parents, caregivers, and educators is to help the young people in our lives craft a reading life for themselves. Research shows that one of the key factors in the development of lifelong readers is having a “sponsor of literacy,” a person who models effective reading habits and puts students in touch with books that may interest them.
The Willingboro Board of Education has approved our investment in a great deal of resources to support independent reading in our school community. This year, all district classrooms received a wealth of new, high interest books for students. It is our goal to continue growing the classroom libraries in our schools to support students’ independent reading life. Our central goal is to help students develop reading fluency and stamina which will result in increased reading rates and thus, help students develop confidence, build vocabulary and improve their writing.
One way to support and encourage reading is to allow young people a great deal of choice to select books that interest them. With that said, we have not read all the books your child will choose to read this year. However, we believe the best books not only entertain us, but also challenge our beliefs, allow us to experience the lives of others, and make us feel validated in an often isolating world. Books are a safe place to experience tragedy, loss, fears, and life-changing experiences. For instance, a high school student might choose to read A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah which contain violent details of the Sudanese war, or The Hate U Give, a young adult novel by Angie Thomas, which follows the events in the life of a 16-year old girl and contains some language you might deem inappropriate. Because we respect your role as parents, we encourage you to monitor, approve, and discuss the books (and topics) your child chooses to read. Read beside them or along with them. Reading can change lives.
WPS Mathematics Corner
What’s New in Mathematics?
The NJ Student Learning Standards in Mathematics represent a fundamental shift in our thinking from being able to “do math” to being able to “understand math.” Some of the methods taught may seem different and, in some cases, inefficient to “doing” the math, but, in reality, they are helping to build understanding that will take the students much further.
Eureka! Mathematics: Eureka Mathematics is the most widely used curriculum in America. Willingboro Public Schools adopted Eureka Mathematics (from GreatMinds.org) for all students in grades 1-12 with few exceptions (we offer some courses that Eureka does not yet support). Parents are encouraged to create accounts with Eureka in order to help support their students. Parents can read more about Eureka Mathematics and Great Minds here: https://greatminds.org/ and can access the online portal here: access Eureka Mathematics here: https://greatminds.org/math/parents.
Zearn: All Willingboro students in grades 1-4 will have access to an account with Zearn. Zearn is an online application that will support our students as they learn their basic computation facts and skills. “Zearn Math is a a top-rated K-5 curriculum, classroom model, and set of administrative implementation tools designed to create daily differentiation and engagement for all students. Zearn Math was created by Zearn, a nonprofit curriculum publisher on a mission to ensure all students love learning math. Zearn Math has received a top rating from EdReports.org, an independent nonprofit that delivers evidence-based reviews of instructional materials. Zearn Math is also rated Tier 1 by the Louisiana Department of Education and has a 5-star rating from Common Sense Education. “ (Zearn, 2018) More information is available at www.zearn.org
WPS Science Corner
“What Does Science Class Look Like in My Child's School?”
There are several things that are evident in a standards-based teaching and learning environment:
Instruction is "hands-on" with students using materials to experience active science.
- There are adequate and safe facilities, equipment and materials for science activities
- There are clearly stated goals for the science curriculum and science lessons.
- Textbooks do not allow the child to have as many hands-on experiences in class - our science classes have science resource books instead of the traditional textbooks.
Students are encouraged to ask questions about the world around them and practice science skills.
- Students' science experiences teach them to connect science concepts to their experience, see how human nature influences science, and explore how science and technology affects their lives.
- The science classes include activities that engage students in applying their science skills and understandings to examine social issues, solve real problems and make decisions.
- Students have the opportunity to use a variety of equipment and technology in their scientific investigations.
Students learn how to find out and make up their own minds by experimenting and investigating how the world works rather than just memorizing facts.
- Students are learning how to conduct scientific inquiry and use data to explain their conclusions.
- The process of investigation and explanation is just as important as knowing "the" answer.
Students have frequent and consistent opportunities to participate in active science learning.
- Students have science experiences and activities every day.
- Students are being taught science every year, beginning in kindergarten and continuing until high school graduation.
- Students study life science, Earth & space science, and physical science in their science program.
Teachers plan instruction that builds on what students know and think to increase students' scientific understanding.
- Teachers use the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Science to plan lessons that are challenging, engaging and age appropriate.
- There are resources and opportunities for students to do at-home science activities like participating in the Science Fair.
What can I do to support good science education?
- Learn about and investigate the natural world with your child - you don't have to know all the answers.
- Instill in your child the belief that he/she can succeed in science and that hard work pays off.
- Encourage your child to read about science and scientists and provide opportunities for them to explore science in your community.
- Talk with your child's teacher about their needs, concerns, and expectations for students in science.
- Volunteer to help in the classroom during science activities or at district science events and learn with your child.
WPS Academic Support & Enrichment Services
WPS Academic Support
The state of New Jersey requires all districts to devise a plan to monitor student progress both academically and socially as well as provide programming to support specialized populations. Willingboro Township has re-aligned existing practices to ensure all students access to supplemental instruction when needed. We believe all students can learn and as a result have restructured and enhanced instructional programming to support that belief in a number of ways. This year, the Office of Curriculum and Instruction re trained all staff on the Intervention and Referral services model to support teachers with ways to best meet student needs if they are experiencing challenges with grade level instruction. In addition to that process, we added Academic Support, and re structured the T.O.P.S program for gifted and talented students.
Academic Support Teachers have received and will continue to receive extensive training around intervention strategies to support students that may be experiencing difficulty mastering grade level standards in their classrooms. Identified students will receive intensive small group instruction to help target their growth areas at the each elementary school as research supports that interventions are most effective in the developmental earlier stages of learning.
WPS Enrichment Services
As a part of the alignment process, grounded in data, the district redesigned the TOPS program to maximize instructional time received from the gifted and talented teacher and to minimize the instructional time lost from the general classroom teacher. With the new design, students remain in their home school and receive researched based instruction that directly supports students exhibiting characteristics of a gifted and talented learner. Our office is confident that the re-design better supports what we know about students who are exceptional learners. This realignment will reduce student anxiety and ultimately yield higher achievement as they can focus on engaging in their activities without missing a lot of content in their other classes. By remaining in their home school, students now have an opportunity to receive support on a more regular basis.
If you received a letter welcoming your child into either the TOPS or Academic Support programs, please join us on Thursday, October 25, 2018 from 6 - 7:30 PM to learn more about these opportunities to extend and support learning.
Willingboro Public Schools Board of Education
Mrs. Tonya Brown - President
Ms. Kimbrali Davis - Vice President
Mr. Gary Johnson
Mr. Grover McKenzie
Ms. Debra Williams
Ms. Sarah Holley
Dr. Jennifer Noble-Slaton
Ms. Felicia Hopson
Mr. Dennis Tunstall
WPS Office of Curriculum & Instruction
Director of Curriculum & Instruction
Associate Director of Instruction & Programs
Supervisor of Instruction - Science
Supervisor of Instruction - Math
Supervisor of Instruction - Literacy