Willingboro Public Schools
Dr. Ronald Taylor - Superintendent of Schools
CURRICULUM MATTERS - MONTHLY NEWSLETTER (DECEMBER 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.
WPS Curricula: Unit Reflections
On December 11, 2018, teachers across the district met for the afternoon to engage in a unique kind of professional development called Unit Reflections. In these sessions, teachers collaborated with colleagues to reflect on Unit 1 of their respective curriculum guides. Staff memorialized this feedback on each unit through the use of reflection rubrics, which were then shared with the Office of Curriculum and Instruction. This feedback will play an instrumental role in the revision of every curriculum guide for the upcoming school year.
As you can see, curriculum is truly a living and breathing document!
WPS Science Corner
The Willingboro Public School District is gearing up to start it’s STEM Conference activities. You will be receiving more information on specifics shortly. In the meantime, below is a list resources to help you support your student as they prepare for science experiments.
WPS Academic Support Corner
At this point in the school year, students have been in school for approximately 14 weeks excluding weeks where students had holidays and/or early dismissal. Best instructional practices stress the need for educators to analyze baseline data that measures where students are developmentally as readers compared to where the NJ Student Learning Standards recommends students should be based on age and grade level.
At Willingboro Public Schools, students take the F&P or Fountas and Pinnell Assessment three times a year: Fall, Winter, and Spring. This assessment is widely used throughout the county, state, and country to help educators better understand a child's strengths and weaknesses in the area of Reading. Currently, Willingboro students in grades K-4 are getting ready to take the winter assessment. This assessment is not like a traditional " test" and instead is a one on one assessment with the classroom teacher. The student reads a book and the teacher focuses on what the child does well as a reader.
An effective reading program includes assessments of all of these concepts for five main purposes:
- To identify skills that need review - assessment provides teachers with information on what skills students have and have not mastered. It is needed to help teachers know the skill levels of their students, since students have varying experiences and knowledge.
- To monitor student progress - a teacher can learn which students need review before covering additional content and which students are ready to move forward.
- To guide teacher instruction - through consistent assessment, a teacher can make informed decisions about what instruction is appropriate for each student.
- To demonstrate the effectiveness of instruction - the information gained allows teachers to know if all students are mastering the content covered. It is important for teachers to use instructional time effectively, and this can be done when teachers are knowledgeable about what their students are ready to learn and what they already know.
- To provide teachers with information on how instruction can be improved.
Please check in with your child's teacher after January 18, 2019 to see how much your child has grown since the last assessment.
WPS Literacy Corner
What is Guided Reading?
All WPS elementary teachers are receiving intensive training and coaching in Guided Reading instruction. We feel this intense professional development is most important for our elementary teachers because students learn to read in the elementary grades and read to learn in the upper grades. The research suggests that guided reading instruction accelerates reading progress more than any other instructional strategy used in classrooms.
Guided Reading is a small group, differentiated, instructional approach that allows the teacher to work with students who demonstrate similar reading behaviors and can read texts at similar levels. The teacher uses a tightly structured framework that allows for the incorporation of research-based approaches. For the student, the guided reading lesson means reading and talking (and sometimes writing) about an interesting and engaging variety of fiction and nonfiction texts. For the teacher, guided reading means taking the opportunity for careful text selection and intentional and intensive teaching of systems of strategic activity for proficient reading (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996).
After systematic assessment to determine students’ strengths and needs, they are grouped for guided reading instruction. Instead of using the same text for the whole class, which may be too difficult for some and too easy for others, the teacher selects texts specifically leveled for each group to process successfully with instruction.
During Guided Reading, teachers provide explicit instruction in a range of reading strategies: word solving, self-monitoring and correcting, maintaining fluency, predicting, inferring and making connections. The teacher may incorporate explicit vocabulary instruction and phonics or word work if needed.
Ask your child today what he or she is reading and learning with their Guided Reading group.
WPS Mathematics Corner
While there are some professional vacancies available for qualified staff, we have been looking at ways that parents can help their students succeed. Some free/low-cost ideas include the following:
- Talk to your kids: Consider changing the question from “How was school today?” to “What did you learn (or do) in math class today?”
- Check out the websites, e-Boards, Google Classrooms, and teacher pages, as there may be information there that will help to clear up any confusion that you may have regarding assignments, lessons, or assessments.
- Mathematical assistance: This is an area where many parents have expressed concern about helping their students succeed. It is completely understandable that parents are facing challenges when it comes to helping their children with their math homework and preparing for assessments. There are LOTS of resources available for parents to use. Please check out these resources here.
We continue to visit all schools 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.
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