The Curriculum Chronicle

August 2019

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Goals and Vision for 2019-2020!

I have a massive goal for us this year, individually, in building PLC's, and across the district. All of our work must be in service of the following mission:

Providing complex grade-level texts for all students, every day.

Why this goal? According to The Opportunity Myth, an in-depth study of student access to grade-level curriculum and instruction published by The New Teacher Project in 2018, "Students spent more than 500 hours per school year on assignments that weren’t appropriate for their grade and with instruction that didn’t ask enough of them—the equivalent of six months of wasted class time in each core subject." This is a systemic issue across the country and I know you've felt the effects of this in your classroom. But how do we know what "grade-level" even means? What does it look and sound like to analyze in 7th grade vs. 10th grade? How do I balance engaging, high-interest novels with complex texts that challenge students' cognitive abilities? That's our investigation for the year in every aspect of what we do. Each one of us, teachers, administrators, curriculum, and central office can all address this need in different ways. We will engage in dialogue, new-learning, and hopefully lively debate about what is best to provide our students and how to hold every child to high expectations of meeting or exceeding grade-level.

Preview the executive summary of The Opportunity Myth below. I promise it is a thought provoking read that will help put our work in perspective.

The Role of the Curriculum (and the coordinator) in Your Day-to-Day Life

As I embark on year 2 in this role, my goal is to provide stronger and more timely support to teachers and leaders in service of our district goals. I hope to be far more than a purveyor of books or password resets and become a true partner in student achievement and our goal of creating a rigorous and equitable student experience.

Curriculum guides have undergone significant redesign. These documents are intended to inform your teaching and instructional planning, not to be copied for student use. Developing a plan to share Learning Targets and/or Success Criteria with your PLC will be vital to helping students monitor their own learning.

What can I do for you? When to reach out?

  • Clarity around standard meanings or vertical articulation of skills
  • Questions or concerns about target alignment or curriculum pacing
  • PLC's unpacking a standard and creating success criteria
  • Design of rigorous Level 4 tasks
  • Support for assessing and selecting appropriate on-grade level complex texts in service of a topic or target
  • Support in collaborative scoring or PLC calibration of acceptable evidence
  • No Red Ink implementation and grammar instruction

Your building administration is your first line of defense for many needs including MAP testing. Each building has a test administrator that is able to assist in resetting tests, loading rosters, and locating your data.

I want to keep an open line of communication with building leaders to ensure that my guidance is not in conflict with building goals or directives. Never hesitate to loop in your AP or Instructional Coach in communication with me as we all problem solve together.

August 20th District PLC


*If you teach more than one content area, please reach out to both of your coordinators to assist in determining how best to spend your time that day.

Roosevelt High School Auditorium

4419 Center Street

11:30-3:30 PM


  • Goal Setting for 2019/2020
  • Review curriculum updates/changes to guides
  • New textbook/novel transfer procedures
  • NoRedInk on-boarding with vertical articulation and guided practice

District PLCs: 9/27, 12/13, 4/27


Roosevelt High School

4419 Center Street


*All rooms are located on the 2nd floor, North East hallway. Elevator access is located immediately outside the main office. Enter through the front entrance and take either staircase to the 2nd floor.

Parking is located on either the East (Chamberlin Dr.) or West (Center St.) sides of the building. If you park by the track/gym (closest to Hubbell) you will need to cross the breezeway to enter the main building. Please DO NOT park in the Hubbell lot.

PLC/Facilitator Room/Room at TRHS

  • ELA6 Heather Crank 2800
  • ELA7 Stephanie Fholer 2810
  • ELA8 Tonya Richards 2820
  • Eng 1 Kortney Williamson 2870
  • Eng 2 Jasmine Simpson 2880
  • Eng 3 Andy Sutton 2850
  • Eng 4 Shawna Green 2860
  • AP Denine Taylor 2830
  • Reading Intv. Carman Romeo 2840
  • Journalism Natalie Niemeyer 2040

Registration for District PLC will begin Sep.1. Watch for an email from DMSchools with instructions and links. You are required to participate in a District PLC. If you teach in more than one content area, ask your administrator or curriculum coordinator which you should attend.

Coordinator PLC Visits (Strongly Encouraged)

During the first 3 weeks of the semester, I would like to visit each of your buildings and PLCs to meet your teams, see your spaces, and hear your ideas for the semester! These meetings can be full grade level/departments or individual PLCs. If possible, I would like to coordinate so I can visit with multiple PLCs from the same building on the same day to avoid unnecessary travel. Please touch base with your ELA teams to see if there is a time/day that would work best for teh majority.

Please select a time using the Doodle poll link below. If none of the listed times work for your team, please reach out so we can find an alternative. Please try to select a time prior to August 26th.

Novel Purchasing Requests 2019-2020 (IMPORTANT)

In an effort to responsibly purchase required texts for next year's middle school curriculum implementation, limited requests for new novel purchases will be fulfilled for the 2019/2020 school year. Requests will be limited to courses that require specialized and timely updates such as Contemporary or Multi-cultural Literature. I strongly encourage Middle School teams to refrain from buying novels with building funds without consulting the curriculum coordinator as new materials in 2020 may render their use obsolete.

Schools who wish to make purchases using dual-credit funds or other building funds are strongly encouraged to process requests through the curriculum office for best possible pricing.

Prior to purchasing, always first consider how this text serves you in meeting the Standards. There are so many great books to read and teach, but we must first consider our reasons for selecting the text.

Request for Texts & Transfer of Materials: Novels or Textbooks (IMPORTANT)

To streamline our transfer procedures and provide better accountability for the location of texts, please review these updates to our textbook policy.These updates are for every content area, not simply ELA.

Current grade-level adopted textbooks are expected to be housed in buildings and accounted for yearly through the inventory process. A minimum of a class set for each instructor should be available in the building and checked out to teachers by name. Outdated adoptions are not supported by the district and no additional materials are available. Increased or decreased need can be initiated with the curriculum coordinator during yearly inventory.

Classroom sets of novels are available through Central Stores. Please complete a Novel Requisition Request form and the Curriculum Coordinator will initiate a Transfer of Materials Form. Books should be scanned into your building by your textbook manager or librarian prior to distribution to students. Classroom sets should arrive in quantities of 40, or 15 for literature circle sets. Any loss of books at the end of usage must be indicated prior to return back to Central Stores for accurate records and replacement.


Please DO NOT physically alter books in any way, including writing your name or numbering the spine.


Use the form linked below to request a text. This includes textbooks and novels. This will be approved or denied by me and your building textbook manager will assist in placing the transfer request.

Please submit text requests for FALL 2019 no later than 8/23 to ensure delivery for Unit 1.

Individual email requests for novels will still result in a request to submit the form. Please start here to avoid redundancy.

Current novel inventory is located in the spreadsheet below. Please consider using texts we already have available in the district prior to initiating a request for new purchases.

Additional support with text acquisition can be directed to Deborah Swigert,, Library & Learning Platform Specialist

eBook request spreadsheet

If there is a novel you are using and anticipate needing virtual access to check-out to students, please use this link to update the spreadsheet. We will partner with Heartland to provide access.

English III & English IV GEAR forms

In order to fulfill the requirements of text complexity in grades 11 and 12, each PLC must complete the GEAR form located in their curriculum guide to account for the varied and unique genres and time periods those course must cover.

Please submit this form for your FIRST SEMESTER texts to Elizabeth Sheridan no later than 9/15. I will be scheduling a visit to each PLC over the first few weeks of school to assist with any questions and learn more about your plan for the year.

Assessment Calendars

Further guidance around testing requirements and conditions will come from your building administrator and the Assessment department.

Please be aware of MAP testing windows as you outline units of instruction.

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New users/Updates to accounts:

  • Reading Interventionists that are new to the district, please let me know if your building plans to use Achieve 3000 and I will create an account for you.
  • Move schools? Let me know and I can switch your account to the new building.
  • Other users? Wondering if A3K might be right for your program? Ask me! We only hold so many licenses per school site but will certainly provide access for the right cause.

Fall Training Options:

August 20th 8-11am (location TBD)

  • New User - all the basics of setting up your account, launching the system with students, and practical applications for getting the semester started!
  • Refresher - A3K constantly works to improve theirs systems. This session would be focused on updates to the program, opportunities to dig into your own data and problem solve with the consultant, and ask questions to improve your practice.

Please sign up by 8/16 to ensure appropriate space and materials are provided

BLUE Program Registration (new-to-profession teachers only)

New-to-profession teachers (in your first or second year of teaching), have you considered joining the BLUE Contract?

BLUE is a unique contract available to our first and second year teachers in DMPS that connects you to two years of specialized professional development about instruction and equity, then enrolls you at Drake University for a Master’s Degree in Culturally Responsive Leadership and Instruction… free of charge! Not only is the master’s degree free, but you also get paid a little extra each year as a BLUE teacher! The program comes with just one notable catch: In order to get the master’s degree for free, you have to remain on the BLUE Contract and teaching in Des Moines for 8 years.

Before you let that scare you away, there’s something about that 8-year commitment you may not have heard before! You get the chance to experience the BLUE program without risk during your first two years. If you find the learning not to your liking, you can leave the program before you start taking your master’s degree courses in the third year, and you won’t owe anything at all. It’s a low-risk way to connect with like-minded teachers from across the district, get extra support and learning, and decide for yourself through firsthand experience if this is the right work for you.

If you have any questions at all about BLUE, contact Jeremy Schwennen ( for answers and exclamation points.

And if you already know that BLUE is a good fit for you, you can join by completing this form:

Registration closes October 1st.

--Jeremy Schwennen

DMPS Mentoring and Induction