Willingboro Public Schools
Dr. Ronald Taylor - Superintendent of Schools
CURRICULUM MATTERS - MONTHLY NEWSLETTER (OCTOBER 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 Revised Grading Regulations for the 2018-19 School Year
Information Session on Grading Regulation Revisions
Tuesday, Nov. 27th, 6:30-7:30pm
440 Beverly Rancocas Road
Please feel free to attend this one-hour information session regarding the latest revisions to the WPS Grading Regulations. Hosted by the WPS Office of Curriculum and Instruction.
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.
WPS Literacy Corner
The Amazing Power of Feedback
John Hattie’s (Visible Learning, 2009) research of effective classroom practices uncovered that feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement. We know that helping students articulate clear goals for their work, and supporting them with strategies and feedback to accomplish those goals, makes a huge difference in their ability to succeed. Our goal as educators (and parents), is to ensure that the learner receives feedback that is an acknowledgment of what the learner is doing well and suggestions for the next step toward an ambitious but accessible goal.
Conferences, or conversations in which students are given differentiated feedback, can take place in any classroom and in all content areas. Teachers of reading and writing are familiar with the Architecture of a Conference. It is a simple framework which includes four phases and always follows a pattern: research, decide, compliment, teach.
In the research phase, the teacher tries to understand the learner’s knowledge and intentions. The teacher will observe the learner and ask questions like “what are you working on (as a writer)? Or “how’s it going?” During the decision phase, the teacher synthesizes what has been learned in the research phase and imagines the possible paths for the learner. In this phase the teacher quickly decides what to compliment and what to teach. The purpose of the compliment is to leave a pathway for the student to repeat his or her accomplishments another time. Finally, the teach phase is where you explicitly name something (a strategy) that will help the learner with what they are working on right now and with work they will do in the future. When conferring with a student, it is not our job to simply correct errors. Rather, it’s to teach the student a strategy or technique they can use independently. According to Peter Johnston, the purposes of feedback are to: (1) improve conceptual understanding, and (2) increase strategic options while developing stamina, resilience, and motivation (Johnston, 2012).
Conferences where students are given good feedback are one of the most powerful ways to support student’s growth and independence because teachers are able to meet students right where they are and provide instruction that could potentially have the biggest impact on learning.
WPS Mathematics Corner
Professional Development: We have visited all schools twice already with our Professional Eureka/Great Minds math coaches. We are excited to learn more about new teaching strategies to ensure that our students experience growth and success in mathematics. Parents are encouraged to create accounts with Eureka in order to help support their students. Parents can read more about Eureka Mathematics and Great Minds here and can access the online portal here.
Assessment: We have begun the End of Unit Assessment process, which will continue through the end of the first quarter. Students are encouraged to study, as well as make sure they are well rested and prepared as they can be. Please see "How to Study for a Math Test."
Communication with Stakeholders: Regular communication occurs between teachers and administration through the use of Google Classroom. In addition, teachers, students and parents are encouraged to visit mbraverman.weebly.com for links to various mathematical resources.
WPS Science Corner
“How can I explain such a hard concept in a simple enough way for my child to understand?”
Explanations Do Not Always Help
Explanations, even simple ones, do not always help children (or adults, for that matter!) understand complex ideas. So what’s a parent to do? The simple answer is to worry less about explaining to your child, and spend more time modeling the fun of science: going on walks, mixing things, testing to see what will happen, observing carefully and wondering along with your child.
Science Is About Trying to Make Sense of the World
Science is not simply about knowing information—it is equally a way of trying to make sense of the world. Scientists must ask questions, design investigations, try to make sense of the information they have gathered during the investigations, and communicate and defend their thinking to others. They don’t always find the answers to their questions, and they don’t always agree. Help Children Think Like Scientists It is much more important for parents to help children develop the skills they need to think like scientists than to help them understand complex scientific concepts. Even the youngest children are quite capable of beginning to build these skills.
A Few Pointers
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you enjoy science alongside your child:
- You don’t need to have answers for all of your child’s questions! Encourage your child to develop his own science thinking skills.
- Listen carefully to your child. Engage her in conversation about what she thinks, and encourage her to explain why she thinks as she does by asking questions such as, “Why do you think the snail is eating that leaf?”
- Don’t immediately correct your child. If your child says something scientifically incorrect, help her discover for herself what is correct rather than correcting her. For example, if she says “heavy things sink, you can ask her, “Which heavy things have you seen sink?” Or, “I wonder if we can find something heavy that can float?”
- Model curiosity. Wonder aloud: “I wonder what will happen to this pudding mix when we put the water in the mix?”
Willingboro Public Schools Board of Education
Mrs. Tonya Brown - President
Ms. Kimbrali Davis - Vice President
Mr. Gary Johnson
Mr. Grover McKenzie
Ms. Debra Williams
Ms. Sarah Holley
Dr. Jennifer Noble-Slaton
Ms. Felicia Hopson
Mr. Dennis Tunstall
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