Curriculum Corner

FUESD Instructional Program Updates for Parents & Community

January, 2016 Edition

Our students and staff are benefitting from several new, innovative instructional programs and practices that have been implemented or are being piloted this year. This issue of the FUESD Curriculum Corner will focus on four of them:


  1. Increased student access to 1:1 technology, web-based curricula, and aligned professional development and support for teachers
  2. A Districtwide study and analysis of current Homework, with recommendations for a revised approach that reflects research and effective instructional practice
  3. A continued focus on Mathematics that includes on-going training and support for teachers, and the piloting of curricula in Grades 6-8


In addition, this issue of Curriculum Corner will highlight the very positive impact implementation of the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) continues to have in providing improved and increased programs and services to students in the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District.

New Technology and Tools for Students

The 2015-16 school year has been a banner year for the planned expansion of technology as a teaching and learning tool in FUESD. Every student in Grades 4-6 in the District now has a 1:1 device (Chromebook). This initial implementation also includes middle school students at our two schools on Camp Pendleton, Mary Fay Pendleton and San Onofre Schools. We are pleased to announce the 1:1 Chromebook initiative will also include all students at Potter Jr. High School beginning in late January and early February. All students with 1:1 devices participate in a unit on "Digital Literacy," which provides them with the citizenship skills needed to participate ethically and responsibly in a technological world.


The deployment of devices has been accompanied with a high level of support and training. Four site-based, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) instructional coaches were hired prior to the beginning of the school year; each coach, or TOSA, is assigned to two schools to work directly with teachers and students.


Our District is also working with two educational institutions to develop and support teachers and administrators in the effective integration of technology with teaching and learning. The FUESD Envision Team, consisting of teachers, support staff, STEM TOSAs and site and district administrators is working with two professional educators from the Solana Beach School District (SBSD). SBSD is a leader in providing teachers and students with educational technology. The Envision Team is learning about innovative and effective practice in each of the STEM disciplines. FUESD has also partnered with the University of San Diego Mobile Learning Lab to support our 1:1 implementation. USD is working with District teachers, TOSAs and administrators to align our new technology resources with the District's instructional framework.

FUESD Is Doing Its Homework

The FUESD K-8 Curriculum Council began reviewing and analyzing the educational practice of assigning Homework in 2014-15, and concluded their study at their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, December 1, 2015. Council members have drafted a District vision for Homework, and provided teachers with recommendations and guidelines based on best practice for students in Grades K-2, 3-5, and 6-8.


While there is no shortage of opinions on the subject of Homework, there is an existing, and growing body of research on the practice that Curriculum Council members worked with over the course of four meetings. In addition, Council members were also informed by:

  • FUESD Student Surveys at the primary, upper elementary, and middle/junior high school students completed last year
  • FUESD Parent Surveys completed last year
  • FUESD Teacher Surveys completed last year
  • A literature review that reflected the research and wide variety of opinions and perspectives on the subject
  • Classroom and grade level/department examples from all schools in the district


Moving forward, parents can expect to see homework that:

  1. Focuses on quality (has an academic purpose, is developmentally respectful (time limits), increases student competency and ownership)
  2. Considers differentiation
  3. Is accompanied by teacher feedback
  4. Prioritizes checking, not grading
  5. Is accompanied with classroom and schoolwide strategies that prioritize completion


The purpose of homework will fall into one of the following categories:

BEFORE A LESSON OR UNIT HAS BEEN TAUGHT

  1. Pre-learning (finds out what students already know or are curious about before they begin)

AFTER A LESSON OR UNIT HAS BEEN TAUGHT

  1. Checking for understanding
  2. Practice
  3. Student processing, reflecting, and summarizing


The new guidelines and recommendations will be presented to the FUESD Governing Board and communicated to parents on the District website as well as in the next edition of Curriculum Corner. For more information, please refer to the link below which will take you to the work of Dr. Cathy Vanderrott, a leading researcher in the field.

Homework Lady

Homework Lady
Homework Lady was created to provide information to teachers, school administrators, parents, and the general public about the topic of homework. This site will provide the user with research about homework, general purposes of homework, guidelines for reasonable homework limits, ideas for best homework practices, and help for parents in working with their children and their children’s teachers.

Focus on Mathematics Continues

"Now that I provide more "hands-on" time in class, my students cheer when its math time." Grade 3 Teacher, Live Oak Elementary School


FUESD continues to support teachers in the effective implementation of the California Math Standards this year. The District is in its second full year of a partnership with the University of California, Irvine Math Project (IMP). Every teacher in K-6 and math teachers in Grades 7-8 attend three, grade specific content training days during the 2015-16 school year. IMP training focuses on two of the three components of a balanced math program - conceptual learning and problem solving. The third component, procedural learning (math facts and practice), is an area in which our teachers have confidence and are highly skilled.


In addition to professional development, IMP has developed teacher unit guides, parent homework overviews, and student note taking tools for students in Grades 7 and 8 that are being used for the first time this year.


Teachers and students in Grades 6, 7, and 8 are also piloting a new math curriculum, California Math, by McGraw-Hill. The curriculum comes in both a traditional textbook and fully digital format; our District has access to both. In the Spring, 2016, the math teachers in these grades will convene to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum to determine if a recommendation for Districtwide adoption can be made.

LCAP Means More for Students!

In 2014-15 the FUESD Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) Input and Oversight Committee agreed on a limited number of revisions to improve programs and services to students this year. This committee of parents, support staff, teachers, and administrators recommended that the following initiatives be implemented. Many have already begun, those that haven't will be!


GOAL 1

  • Increase student access to technology and STEM
  • Provide professional development to support technology/STEM initiatives
  • Improve communication to parents and the community about the new standardized testing (CAASPP) results
  • Continue to increase access to new, standards-aligned instructional materials


GOAL 2

  • Improve intervention and extension services to students, and integrate technology whenever possible
  • Increase time and services for English Language Development (ELD) at all schools and Spanish Language Development for English speakers at Maie Ellis


GOAL 3

  • Enhance the school lunch program with locally grown, organic offerings
  • Improve behavioral intervention for regular education and Special Education students
  • Increase training for playground supervisors
  • Improve the furniture refresh program


GOAL 4

  • Improve programs to bridge parent involvement between the elementary schools and Potter Jr. High
  • Increase digital and internet access for parents in common areas at schools
  • Increase access to English classes for parents of English learners



Look for specific indicators of District progress for each of these goals in the next issue of Curriculum Corner.