Willingboro Public Schools
Dr. Ronald Taylor - Superintendent of Schools
CURRICULUM MATTERS - MONTHLY NEWSLETTER (NOVEMBER 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.
UPDATED: WPS Grading Regulations for the 2018-19 School Year
WPS Science Corner
There are several science websites out there that can help students understand difficult topics, prepare for exams, and ultimately serve parents as a virtual teacher’s aid. The best part: Many of the better ones are absolutely free.
Room 241 put together a fantastic list of several popular websites that can get students hooked on science. Take a look...
A companion to the books and TV shows, HowStuffWorks is more for the teen or young adult, so some supervision will be needed to direct the younger student to the right information.
The site uses illustrations, charts, and graphs to explain the detailed workings of everything from light bulbs to weather phenomena, space craft to submarines, nuclear fission to how ice cubes melt. Parents and teachers will find this a useful resource for explaining the way various items are created and function in the world.
This website is an extension of the Exploratorium in San Francisco, which provides hands-on experiences that teach children scientific concepts. The website brings some of these activities to students via their computers. Biology, physiology, earth science, engineering, and astronomy are some of the areas of focus.
Look for the Explore areas that offer resources to help create lesson plans that incorporate the interactive displays.
Remember making your own crystal radio or a clock from a potato way back when? Science Toys has collected the best of these old-school science projects for the current generation. Students can make things ranging from a steamboat to a solar-powered marshmallow roaster. The projects are best for the middle or high school student, but younger students could also enjoy the projects with adult supervision.
What we love most: the projects try to make use of what might be found around the house, although a few may require a trip to the hardware store.
Bill Nye the Science Guy (My personal favorite!!)
This site—which has a fantastic design, by the way—primarily reinforces material that Bill Nye presents on his TV show. His style and humor entertains and educates the student, while really getting the points of each lesson across.. Consider it a great resource to support classroom lectures and projects.
This website educates students on science-related topics in the news. News items—such as the decline of the population of honeybees and how forensic science is used to solve crimes—are explained with kids in mind. The site is more appropriate for middle and high school students, but again, younger students can benefit from it with some adult interpretation.
Remember, nothing can replace a child's natural curiosity for the real world. If that moment should arise, take the time and smell the roses. You may learn something sciencey!!
WPS Literacy Corner
5 REASONS TO READ NONFICTION
Given the choice, many young adults choose to read fiction over nonfiction. Throughout their schooling and life, however, students will encounter a great deal of nonfiction. Every year in school, students read informational texts in Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and Health. Early exposure to a variety of informational texts will stimulate the development of background knowledge, vocabulary, and comprehension skills. We can encourage the reading of nonfiction as early as kindergarten. Our youngest readers are curious about real people, places, and events. To help your child find nonfiction books, have them compile a list of topics of interest. Search the bookstore and library for books on topics your child is interested in.
5 Reasons our children should read more Nonfiction:
- They will learn valuable life lessons. Reading biographies offers a glimpse of the triumphs and tragedies of people throughout history. Reading about the experiences of others can teach valuable life lessons and help us feel more connected to others. When we read and understand history, we become less judgmental and more compassionate.
- Reading improves concentration. Nonfiction reading requires focus and concentration. Just fifteen minutes of nonfiction reading daily will help students be more present and more productive in their everyday life.
- Nonfiction reading can strengthen vocabulary. Reading nonfiction will expose students to a wealth of new words to use when talking about a topic. We want our children to be able to use field-specific jargon and express their thoughts about a topic clearly and critically.
- Reading nonfiction upgrades the brain. Reading nonfiction is a workout for the brain. It improves memory and analytical skills.
- Reading nonfiction makes students more well-rounded. Nonfiction can be the springboard to understanding how and why the world works the way it does and every piece of knowledge like that leaves our children more powerful, emotionally as well as intellectually.
WPS Mathematics Corner
We have visited all schools again with our Professional Eureka/Great Minds math coaches. We are excited to learn more about planning and instructional strategies to ensure that our students experience growth and success in mathematics.
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 and can access the online portal here.
Zearn is an online supplemental program for our elementary school students. Zearn is designed to work together with Eureka Math to provide fluency and practice opportunities. Students are encouraged to work on Zearn on their own, in addition to 30 minutes per day in the classroom.
We completed our Unit 1 Assessment process with nearly all of our students in grades 1-12 completing their assessments. While we considered the Unit 1 Assessments a “practice round,” it should be noted that some of our students did not perform as expected. It is critical to our students’ success that they perform as well as they can by:
paying attention during class
working through the problems
studying for tests
answering all questions to the best of their ability
Teachers, students and parents are encouraged to visit mbraverman.weebly.com for links to various mathematical resources.
Preparing for the future:
Students who have the talent, support, dedication, good health, good luck, and drive in certain areas (sports and performance) can rise to tremendous heights in our society without the need for too much education. For the 99.9% of the rest of us, education is the key to our future. Education and training can be the difference between a job and a rewarding career in a field you love. The more education you have, the more opportunities you are afforded, and the more opportunities you have, the more choice you have in what you do and how much you are able to earn. Education is the key that can open these doors. Once the doors are open, your skills, knowledge, and dedication are what keep you there.
WPS Academic Support Corner
As the Holiday Season approaches, it is easy for children to lose their motivation towards school and/or school activities as they balance the many activities that they engage in at home with families. Although equally important, most kids need prompting and support to help navigate school responsibilities especially with competing priorities. Below you will find a few suggestions to help kids stay the course through the holiday season:
1. Help children feel in control.
Parents can help children take control of their learning by giving them choices. Children can choose which homework assignments to do first, whether they will play before or after their homework, and how many breaks they will take and when. Children can also gain control by recognizing that they can negotiate homework assignments with their teachers. If, for instance, your child is assigned to write about a topic she isn’t interested in, you can encourage her to think about what they she like to write about and then talk to the teacher to see if that would be acceptable. Thomas says nine times out of ten a good teacher will recognize the value of children being excited about their learning. If writing about a topic of interest achieves the same goals for the teacher, why not?
2. Help children feel confident.
When children feel confident, they are more likely to be motivated. Parents can help boost children’s confidence by having them teach about what they are learning at school. “This doesn’t have to be artificial,” Smith says. “Often times, parents don’t know about some of the subjects, and the kids can actually serve a valuable role in teaching their parents.” At-home debates and educational games are also helpful when it comes to confidence building, as they provide a forum for discussion and allow for close interactions with parents. This in turn serves to strengthen children’s confidence as individuals and as learners.
3. Help children feel connected.
Just like adults, children are more motivated when they feel a personal connection to something. Personalizing is an important critical thinking skill teachers work to develop in their students, often by asking open-ended questions that help students connect to text. You can take this to another level when it comes to your child’s school work. If your child complains about an assignment, ask open-ended questions to prompt her to think about how the assignment will be useful. Encourage her to think about how she can relate to the subject, or how she might use the skills she’s learning in other aspects of her life. Making learning social is another strategy regularly used in the classroom to help children feel connected, and parents can facilitate social learning at home, too. Talking to family members or neighbors about her experiences with a subject can serve to keep the learning interesting for your child. Children and adults need to feel in control, confident, and connected. With these three Cs lined up, motivation is sure to follow.
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
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