Willingboro Public Schools
Dr. Ronald Taylor - Superintendent of Schools
CURRICULUM MATTERS - MONTHLY NEWSLETTER (JANUARY 2019)
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.
WPS Curricula: Unit Competencies
As part of the district's curriculum writing initiative in Grades 1-12, unit competencies or assessments were embedded into every unit of study within every curriculum guide. These unit competencies measure mastery of the knowledge and skills as laid out in the NJ Student Learning Standards. Students in Grades 1-4 take one competency at the end of each unit of study in their major content areas while students in Grades 5-12 take two competencies at the middle and end of each unit of study in their major content areas.
As the district focuses on fewer overall assessments that more accurately measure what a student knows and is able to do, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Every unit of study in every content area does not start and end at the same time - a student may be in Unit 2 in Math but in Unit 3 in Science
- Each Marking Period's start and end dates do not necessarily coincide with the start and end dates of any particular unit of study in any course
- The Report Card Grade represents the student's grade in each course at that exact moment in time. The student will continue to be assessed and graded and as such, his/her overall grade in the course will remain in a state of flux up until the end of the course.
WPS Science Corner
This year WPS is upping their Science Fair game!!
Presenting the WPS STEM Conference 2019!
The theme is "The Future Earth". Students will be receiving a STEM Conference Packet to bring home that contains valuable resources on completing a successful STEM project.
Why is an event like a Science Fair or STEM Conference important to students? A school wide event like a STEM Conference allows students to present their science project to the community, including district stakeholders and other students. Studies have shown that "Science Fair" types of events motivate student participation toward science. It also contributes to their social development. Not to mention, that it can broaden a student’s horizon to someday pursue a career in the sciences. Overall, an event like the STEM Conference adds an exciting twist to Science that can encourage a student to learn about the world around them.
WPS Academic Support Corner
This weekend in Philadelphia, hundreds of African American children's authors convened to make their titles available to the local and surrounding communities. Be sure to check it out next year as it is truly a wonderful event.
As we enter into African American History Month, this is a great time to continue to explore wonderful titles with rich cultural themes and/or characters. Here are the African American Literature Book Club's top 134 African American Children's Books.
As you explore these titles with your children, they may need additional comprehension support. Here is how you can help (Reading Rockets, 2019):
- Hold a conversation and discuss what your child has read. Ask your child probing questions about the book and connect the events to his or her own life. For example, say "I wonder why that girl did that?" or "How do you think he felt? Why?" and "So, what lesson can we learn here?".
- Help your child make connections between what he or she reads and similar experiences he has felt, saw in a movie, or read in another book.
- Help your child monitor his or her understanding. Teach her to continually ask herself whether she understands what she's reading.
- Help your child go back to the text to support his or her answers.
- Discuss the meanings of unknown words, both those he reads and those he hears.
- Read material in short sections, making sure your child understands each step of the way.
- Discuss what your child has learned from reading informational text such as a science or social studies book.
WPS Literacy Corner
Arguments are Everywhere
In Unit 3 of our English Language Arts curricula in Grades 5-12, students study the art of argument. We expect that this unit of study not only affects our students academically, but may also affect how they move throughout the world - how they make decisions, and how they accept or reject positions. We believe that the toolkit of skills students develop in this unit is useful as they live lives of advocacy, citizenship and leadership.
Throughout this unit, students are expected to read and think critically about a variety of debated issues, advocate for themselves and others, see and embrace complexity in issues. They learn how to express a point of view on a subject and support it with evidence. They tackle complex, real-world issues. Students in Grade 7, for example, focus on a “science and society” topic; adolescent brain development and the effects of entertainment screen time on the brain, while Grade 8 students read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, (literary non-fiction) about where food comes from and about making decisions about what food to buy and eat. Eighth graders closely analyze the author’s arguments and the evidence he uses to support his claims.
We believe the freedom to argue is one of our most important and precious freedoms. Becoming powerful at argumentation will benefit all students as they become citizens of the world. When our students can write and debate on a topic with logic and passion, they can change the world, and we can have hope for the future!
WPS Mathematics Corner
Students in Grades 1-4 will have completed their Unit 2 Competencies (assessments) and begin working towards their Unit 3 goals. Please encourage them to practice their skills and fluencies, as these form the foundations to future learning. Students in Grades 5-12 have two Competencies: a summative assessment (test) and a performance task.
Please keep your eyes out for paperwork coming home with your child from their science teacher regarding the STEM Conference. Since mathematics is the language of science, most projects will have a mathematical component to them. Feel free to have your child seek assistance from their Math teachers in finding, calculating, measuring, and presenting their data. This is a great opportunity to explore the mathematical relationships that present themselves in science, technology, and engineering (as well as math).
Math is Everywhere!
In addition to being really helpful in school, math is really important in daily life. Check out this great article!
Check us out on the Web!
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.
Willingboro Public Schools Board of Education
Dennis Tunstall - President
Grover McKenzie - Vice President
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