Commons A Notes #40

Preparing to Plan for Upcoming Planning Meetings

Upcoming Events

I have talked to many of you in recent days about this being the time of year where even the most consummate professionals among us grow weary of missing work with no good reason, 20 minute bathroom trips, 11th graders who claim they are lost, 10th graders who tell us they didn't know quarter four had begun, and computers being used to preview prom dresses. With that said I hope that you can laugh at how silly kids can be and recharge with a well deserved week of rest just five days from now.

World Language Technology

It took some time but there is great news for the World Language Department. Pam McLeod will be ordering 45 Chromebooks and an assortment of iPad minis for the department. I know the wait was frustrating but by working within the system and with the new Director of Technology we wound up getting more devices than we originally planned for. When you start using the new devices please send me pictures and videos of students using them and of student work. We can use information for a future presentation to the board of the great education that happens in the World Language Department.

Next Generation Science Standards

A K-12 group of science teachers is near the completion of its work in examining and learning more about the new Next Generation Science Standards. The elementary, middle school, and the high school will focus next year on big themes from the Standards that run through every kind of science. During the summer and next school year the high school will begin to examine if larger changes to the way we do science should be considered. There are districts who are making no change as a result of the new standards and those that are changing not only their science but their math departments in response to the Common Core and NGSS. We will visit a variety of schools along this spectrum and bring back what we find so we can all make good decisions for what is best for the students in Concord. Please thank Lise Bofinger, Jane Voth, Lyn Vinskus, Jon Bryde, Marilyn Salagaj, Charlie Swift, and George Golden for their great representation of the department on the NGSS committee.


Speaking of science--my kids found these amazing bunches of frog eggs in the vernal pools behind our house.
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Competency Collecting--Science, Social Studies, and World Languages

Master Organizer Chris Herr ran two excellent department meetings this week where World Languages and Social Studies began to upload or move finalized or near finalized versions of their UbD templates into a common location. Science has also done a great job of working on competencies and collecting them. They had a bit of a head start since they have been working with UbD since the 1990s but I really appreciate the work done to revise and refine competencies for this most recent cycle.

A question came up about competencies for "singleton" classes that are taught by only one teacher. Those classes should also be curriculum designed using the UbD format. Please make sure that you start doing this if you are not doing so already. If you need assistance here are some ways to get it.

  • Contact me, Chris Herr, or Lise Bofinger to set up a meeting.
  • Contact Justin Bourque for help with Drive or other tech. issues.
  • Sign up for one or both of the following great conferences.

UbD Conferences with Wiggins and McTighe

There are two great opportunities to see the authors who brought the UbD approach to curriculum design. They are nearby and inexpensive.

  1. Grant Wiggins in East Hartford, CT. May 13th. Wiggins is a great and inspiring presenter. If you want to be convinced of the importance of using UbD for everything this is the one you should go to. ($156).
  2. Jay McTighe in Manchester, NH. July 11th. ($169). This conference focuses on performance assessments which is a key next step for all of us to work on.