All About ALP
Quarterly Updates for Advanced Learning Parents
Timely district-based communication is critical for parents to be partners in learning at Greenwich Public Schools. We must communicate early and often, and we recognize our first formal communication regarding all things ALP is a bit tardy.
The ALP Leadership Team is committed to two-way communication between parents and our team. This school year, we are striving for clarity and consistency in messaging and decisions, and continuity of advanced curriculum for our students. We will continue through our already established communication channels such as Board of Education meeting updates, information channeled through building principals and their newsletters, and PTAC committee representatives. However, we know that those avenues have fallen short of some of our family's needs. To remedy this gap in clear communication, we started our inaugural Advanced Learning Program Newsletter, "All About ALP".
You can expect to hear from us more often through this quarterly posting. In addition, we will update parents on placement timelines, assessment protocols, as well as curriculum refinements, and student school work spotlights. We look forward to strengthening the tradition of strong communication and collaboration between GPS and our families.
- Leadership Team
- Program Updates
- Dates to Know
ALP Leadership Team
This year, we have restructured and we are excited to introduce our ALP Leadership Team. We work together in support of our advanced students. Our administrator content area curriculum coordinators, Tara Fogel, Dr. Benjamin Markus, and Mike Reid, are able to support teacher-leader facilitator, Bonnie O'Regan.
As an ALP Leadership Team, our primary goal is to maintain effective lines of two-way communication with all stakeholders. In doing so, we aim to deliver concise and transparent information.
To facilitate this flow of information, use our NEW email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In doing so, you ensure that when you communicate with one of us, you communicate with all of us.
Program Updates 3-5
ALP 90-Minute Blocks
This year, as we continue to navigate COVID challenges, the design of the block continues.
The Humanities Block is 90 minutes long. The focus on literacy as the incorporation of Reading and Writing into one block has created increased opportunities for cross-curricular connections. ALP Humanities students received grade-level-based social studies with their ALP teacher, however, next year, social studies is expected to return to the general education classroom.
With the hope of moving past COVID restrictions, the Humanities Block will continue to include Reading and Writing for a more comprehensive literary experience. Social Studies will be lifted out of the block.
The STEM Block is 90 minutes long. On most days, the breakdown of time is 60 minutes of math and 30 minutes of science. The 90-minute block offers flexibility to spend more time in either math or science when appropriate. As an example, if a teacher has a science experiment that will take more than 30 minutes they have the flexibility to do so.
Again, with the hope of moving past COVID restrictions, we will return to a STEM Block with science reserved for the last 30 minutes. This will allow for separate placement into the science portion.
Math Curriculum Updates:
In preparation for the Big Ideas Math rollout, the focus of the 2021 summer ALP math program curriculum work was centered on creating a compacted math curriculum for students in grades 3-5. That equates to a year and a half of content every year. In order to compact the curriculum, the team looked for redundancies and where possible, grouped lessons from multiple grade standards together.
Humanities Curriculum Updates:
ALP Humanities time now consists of Reading, Writing, and Social Studies. The grade-level classroom reading, writing, and social studies have been integrated into the ALP curriculum to create a unique program for our students which covers all grade-level material while providing compacting and extended learning experiences.
The major shift this year is to align our curriculum to Common Core Standards, dividing the year into four major areas building upon students’ skills in a progression from lower- to higher-level thinking (similar to Bloom’s Taxonomy):
Unit 1: Interacting with Text
Unit 2: Learning from Text
Unit 3: Analyzing Text
Unit 4: Synthesizing with Text
- Word Study: This vocabulary-focused program is now part of the General Education Curriculum and will be taught outside of the Reading/Writing/Social Studies block.
- Mythology and Shakespeare: They are here to stay! These units will now be embedded into broader units of instruction. This intentional choice allows our ALP teachers to fit a lot more content into our year.
- Novels: Rather than whole-class novels, portions of whole-class novels previously used are incorporated as read alouds. This will allow more student choice in independent reading.
Program Updates 6-8
Advanced Science Pathway:
In 2020-2021, with the goal of safe in-person instruction, we made adjustments to science for cohorting purposes. As we continue to navigate, albeit less intensive COVID protocols this year, students continue to work in heterogeneous groups. The goal of the Advanced Science Pathway for those students is to encourage the spirit of Science through the opportunity to engage with an independent, parallel project alongside the robust, three-dimensional core curriculum.
With the hope of moving past COVID restrictions, we look to go to back to a stand-alone course.
More information about the current design is included below.
- Advanced Science Pathways are specifically designed for students to access and complete with an increased level of independence.
Content and Assessment:
- Pathways range in complexity, product creation, crosscutting concept exposure, use of science and engineering skills, and experience with disciplinary content. Students will be assessed using a rubric aligned with grade-level expectations for science and engineering practices and places to exceed expectations by reaching high school level criteria.
Pathway Project Examples:
Students have begun their work already! We encourage our parents at home to engage in conversations with children. Be sure to ask them about:
- Grade 6: Smashing Science Stereotypes
- Grade 7: A Whole New World
- Grade 8: Ready for Impact
Dates to Know
ALP: BOE Update
Thursday, Oct. 21st, 7pm
9 Indian Rock Lane
Save the date! The Advanced Learning Leadership Team will be presenting to the Greenwich Board of Education on Thursday, October 21. The meeting is at Central Middle School, but is also available virtually on Zoom.
Grade 2: Enrichment Placement Information Sessions
Save the date! Virtual meeting to discuss placement process for Advanced Studies for Grade 2 Enrichment. More information, including links, is forthcoming. To better accommodate parent schedules, we will present the information twice. You will be invited to attend one session.
- November 3 at 6:30 PM
- November 4 at 9:30 AM
Grade 5: Middle School Advanced Studies Information Sessions
Save the date! Virtual meeting to discuss placement process for Advanced Studies in Grades 6-8. More information, including links, is forthcoming. To better accommodate parent schedules, we will present the information twice. You will be invited to attend one session.
- January 3 at 9:00 AM
- January 3 at 6:30 PM