Willingboro Public Schools
From the WPS Office of Curriculum & Instruction
CURRICULUM MATTERS - MONTHLY NEWSLETTER (DECEMBER 2019)
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.
NEW: Standards-Based Report Cards (Grades 1-4)
As highlighted in previous issues of Curriculum Matters, WPS has transitioned to a Standards Based Report Card in Grades 1-4. The first of these report cards is being issued today (12/20) to all elementary students as they leave for the day. The report card is also available to view digitally via the Genesis Parent Portal beginning at 4PM. For more information on our report cards, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions below:
What does a standards-based report card (SBRC) do?
This report card communicates specific grade-level learning standards and measures your child’s learning progress and achievement towards those standards. Along with identifying your child’s strengths, this report card will help foster more high-quality conversations between you, your child, and your child’s teachers. Doing so can result in the development of meaningful goals for continued growth.
When will my child receive a standards-based report card?
Our new standards-based report card cycle is based on three formal reporting periods called trimesters. Please see below for all relevant dates:
Grade 1 - 4 Trimester 1
- BEGIN: 9/5/19
- Progress Report on Parent Portal & Sent Home: 10/22/19
- END: 12/10/19
- Report Card on Parent Portal & Sent Home: 12/20/19
Grade 1 - 4 Trimester 2
- BEGIN: 12/11/19
- Progress Report on Parent Portal & Sent Home: 1/27/20
- END: 3/17/20
- Report Card on Parent Portal & Sent Home: 3/26/20
Grade 1 - 4 Trimester 3
- BEGIN: 3/18/20
- Progress Report on Parent Portal & Sent Home: 5/11/19
- END: 6/16/20
- Report Card on Parent Portal & Sent Home: 6/25/20
What does the standards-based report card (SBRC) look like?
A draft of the SBRC at all four grade levels (Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3 & Grade 4) is available to view HERE.
Will there still be conference opportunities available to discuss my child’s progress?
Yes. WPS will continue with the usually scheduled parent-teacher conferences in the fall and spring at all elementary buildings. We strongly encourage parents to schedule a conference at both parent-teacher conference sessions (fall and spring).
What are the performance indicators on the standards-based report card?
The performance indicators represent a student’s progress on the report card. There are three indicators (1-3).
- An indicator of “3” means that the student currently demonstrates an understanding and application of a particular piece of knowledge and/or skill that is expected at that grade level.
- An indicator of “2” means that the student is currently demonstrating progress towards an understanding and application of a particular piece of knowledge and/or skill that is expected at that grade level
- An indicator of “1” means that the student is currently demonstrating limited progress towards an understanding and application of a particular piece of knowledge and/or skill that is expected at that grade level.
We want parents to recognize that our instruction is directed at ensuring that all students have an opportunity to meet our curriculum standards. Please keep in mind that different students progress at different rates, so standards may be met in varying amounts of time, with varying amounts of teacher support.
How do teachers select performance indicators on the standards-based report card?
Throughout each trimester, teachers assess students both formatively and summatively. With the standards for that grade level in mind, teachers consider:
- knowledge of the child (How does this child learn best? In what way does this child communicate his/her learning?)
- evidence of student performance (work samples that have been collected, student performance on activities and assessments, teacher anecdotal notes)
- knowledge of what the child is expected to know or be able to do (district curricula and standards)
After going through this process, the teacher assigns a performance indicator for each content standard on the report card. Teachers select which performance indicator your child has earned by using a series of grading rubrics. These rubrics (click here and scroll down to #5) outline what your child needs to know or be able to do in relation to the content standards on the report card.
WPS Mathematics Corner
Extended Constructed Responses
Some of you may have heard your children talk about Extended Constructed Response (ECR) questions as they relate to their mathematics classes (not all teachers use this vocabulary term with the students). ECRs are usually word problems, but they are much more extensive than many of the problems that you may have experienced, either as a student or as a parent of an older student. ECRs require our students to demonstrate a level of understanding of mathematics that often goes beyond “finding the right answer.” The NJ Student Learning Standards for Math uses terms like “reasoning” and “modeling” throughout the entire curriculum. The expectation is that students will be able to take a situation, see the “mathematics” in it, create a model to represent that situation, then, from the model, create and solve an equation. This process is used to identify and answer questions.
Let’s face it: 3 + 4 = 7 is a true statement. Unfortunately, it does not exist in the real world. You might use this to represent a situation: “If I have 3 apples at home and purchase 4 more at the store, how many apples will I have altogether?” Modeling is often used in answering questions in the real world. For example, “How much paint will I need to repaint my living room?” is a question that might require additional information, such as “What is the area of the walls that need to be painted?” and “How many square feet will one gallon of paint cover?” These types of problems are present everywhere, both at work and in our homes. As a result, we need to teach students how to solve these. Additionally, these problems comprise approximately 10% of our state tests, but account for approximately 40% of the points.
In order for these problems to be clear to students on an assessment, they require a lot of words. In the living room question above, for example, students would need information that was not provided, such as the dimensions of the walls as well as any non-painted openings (doors, windows, vents, etc.) Recent district data indicates that the more words there are in a problem, the less likely it is that our students will answer it. During our December Professional Development day, all of the math teachers from grades 5-12 attended workshops designed to help them assist students with their approaches to these problems.
How Parents Can Help:
Encourage your children to persevere with math and take the time to read the problem several times so they can take it apart. I often tell students that despite my degrees and experience, I still have to read a problem several times to fully comprehend it.
Remind them that no one can grade what is “in their head” -- only what is on the paper.
For ECRs that come home, ensure that your child can explain the solution to you completely so that it makes sense. If it does not make sense to you, insist that it be broken down further (draw a picture, show all equations and numbers used, and explain why certain operations were selected). When finished, your child should be able to explain how he/she knows that the answer is correct.
Children should label everything so that another person can completely understand it.
Discuss your child’s progress with ECRs with his/her Math teacher.
Hopefully, by working together with your child’s teacher, we can continue to improve the outcomes for all of our students.
Thank you for your continued support!!!!!
WPS Science Corner
The Willingboro Public School District is gearing up to start it’s
annual STEM Conference activities…
All students received a STEM Conference Packet to bring home that contains valuable resources on how to complete a successful STEM project.
Gone are the days when we did cookie cutter projects! Now we are looking for solutions to real world problems (see post-it notes below for ideas).
Below is a list of resources to help you support your student as they prepare for science experiments that offer solutions to problems.
Scholastic Parents - PARENT GUIDE TO SCIENCE FAIRS
Science Buddies - How to Help
Steve Spangler - SCIENCE FAIR 911 – TIPS FOR PARENTS
The Home Depot and Discovery Education – Science Fair Central
As always, support is available from your student's Science teacher. Please do not hesitate to contact the teacher for more information. Happy experimenting!
WPS Literacy Corner
Willingboro High seniors began the school year, thinking purposefully about their future after high school. In Unit 1, Sharing the Best Story of You: Creating a Body of Work That Showcases Your Personal “Brand,” they considered questions such as:
- What will life look like after high school?
- What goals am I reaching for?
- How will I best represent myself so that I have the best chance at reaching my goals?
Students explored these questions throughout the first quarter of the marking period. They crafted a series of writing pieces to create a personal “brand” to position themselves to achieve their goals. By “brand” we mean a message that lets other people know what you stand for and the kind of work that you do. Students had the opportunity to study how successful people in their field of interest brand themselves. Many of our seniors wrote their college essays. Ms. McQuillen’s seniors were particularly excited when they received responses from colleges.
The ability to present your best self is an important factor for success in any career. Our goal is to prepare every student to be their best self and excel in college and careers!
WPS Curricula: Unit Competencies
As part of the district's curriculum writing initiative in Grades 1-12, unit competencies were embedded into every unit of study within every curriculum guide. These unit competencies are summative assessments that measure mastery of the knowledge and skills as laid out in the NJ Student Learning Standards.
Students in Grades 1-4 take one competency at the end of each module or unit of study in their major content areas while students in Grades 5-12 take two competencies at the middle and end of each module or unit of study in their major content areas.
As the district focuses on fewer overall summative assessments that more accurately measure what a student knows and is able to do, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Every unit of study in every content area does not start and end at the same time - a student may be in Unit 2 in Math but in Unit 3 in Science
- Each Marking Period or Trimester start and end date does not necessarily coincide with the start and end dates of any particular unit of study in any course
- The Report Card Grade represents the student's progress in each course at that exact moment in time. The student will continue to be formatively and summatively assessed and graded and as such, his/her overall grade in the course will remain in a state of flux up until the end of the course.
The video below, from the Wisconsin Department of Public Education, does a great job of explaining the important role summative assessments play in the evaluation of student learning. Take a look!
Curriculum Writing & UbD
All of our curriculum guides in Willingboro Public Schools 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.
Willingboro Public Schools Board of Education
Dennis Tunstall - President
Grover McKenzie - Vice President
WPS Office of Curriculum & Instruction
Director of Curriculum & Instruction
Supervisor of Instruction - Science
Supervisor of Instruction - Math
Supervisor of Instruction - Literacy