Willingboro Public Schools

From the WPS Office of Curriculum & Instruction

CURRICULUM MATTERS - MONTHLY NEWSLETTER (OCTOBER 2019)

Introduction


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 we transition to a Standards Based Report Card in Grades 1-4 for the 2019-2020 school year, we would like to share with you what you can expect to see.


Please click HERE to view the Grade 1-4 Standards-Based Report Card Presentation that was made to the Willingboro Public School Board of Education on July 29, 2019.


For more information, please refer to the FAQ (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. Trimester 1 starts on the first day of school in September and runs through December 10. After Trimester 1 ends, the standards-based report card for Trimester 1 will be available to view through the Genesis Parent Portal. It will also be sent home. Trimester 2 begins on December 11 and ends on March 17. After Trimester 2 ends, the standards-based report card for Trimester 2 will be available to view through the Genesis Parent Portal. Trimester 3 begins on March 18 and ends on June 25. After Trimester 3 ends, the standards-based report card for Trimester 3 will be available to view through the Genesis Parent Portal. For a complete list of all trimester dates, please click 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?

Teachers select which performance indicator your child has earned by using a series of grading rubrics. These rubrics outline what your child needs to know or be able to do in relation to the content standards on the 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.

WPS Science Corner

In the New Jersey Learning Standards for Science, there are a series of disciplinary core ideas that span all grade levels, from Kindergarten all the way through high school. This way, conceptual coherence in science can be better attained as students progress from one grade level to the next. One such disciplinary core idea, From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes, was recently examined by both 6th and 10th graders during the month of October. Both grade levels learned about biotic and abiotic elements, but in their own unique ways (outdoor field studies versus microscopic work). Regardless of their methods, both groups of students grappled with the same overarching concepts. Check out the pictures below!

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While the students had off on Monday October 7, WPS teachers participated in professional development to keep them up-to-date on new research on emerging technology tools for the classroom, new curricular resources, and more.


Science teachers in elementary, middle, and high school gathered with curriculum resource specialists to learn best practices for upcoming science units.


And it doesn't stop there! The district is also making sure the teachers receive cutting edge professional development all year long. For instance, three science teachers were chosen to participate in the coveted Franklin Institute's Master Educator Program. We also have teachers going to the New Jersey Science Convention at the end of this month. Further, the Office of Curriculum and Instruction offers quite a few science teaching workshops throughout the year.


WPS is working diligently to close the achievement gap in science. We want to make sure our teachers have the tools needed to ensure student success. In turn, our students are provided with everything they need to not only be successful in their academic career but to strive to be the best they can be throughout their lives.

WPS Mathematics Corner

Did you know…

Roughly 10% of the questions on the NJSLA-Math are Type 2 and Type 3 problems that account for 40% of the student's score?


Type 2 problems require sound mathematical reasoning to solve problems and Type 3 problems require students to model the mathematics. For most people, Type 2 and Type 3 math problems are simply “word problems.” To math teachers, however, they are so much more. These problems require the students to explain their answer, justify their reasoning, evaluate other responses or analyze real-world scenarios, then translate that into mathematical language as well as describe procedures to answer a particular question.


Our teachers are working with your children to teach them to respond fully to these questions. Directions like “Show all work” or “Explain your steps completely” are designed to encourage your students to achieve this level of command over both mathematical content and communication skills.


We present “ECRs” to students throughout the Eureka curriculum, as they are embedded in the problem sets, homework, and assessments. Furthermore, for those students in our “Lab” classes (grades 5-10), we work specifically on ECR problem-solving skills, in addition to general mathematical content.


You may have seen references to the “GUES” strategy in your student’s notes, work, or classrooms. This strategy is designed to help break down the mathematics in a problem by having the students identify the information that is:


  • Given in the problem

  • Unknown at the beginning of the problem


Then identify:


  • Equations/Expressions/Explanations (and drawings) needed

  • Solution and answer to the question


This works to expand the “Read” portion of the “Read, Draw, Write” approach that our textbook uses.


When helping your child with math homework, in addition to the basic procedures of how to get the answer, please consider asking them to explain HOW they got their answer, WHY they chose those steps, WHY those steps work, as well as identify OTHER ways to solve the problems.


By doing all of this, we can give our students the tools they need to be successful...not only in mathematics classes, but also once they leave our classrooms and enter their choices of college and career.

WPS Literacy Corner

In English Language Arts, the first unit of study in the curriculum aims to launch students back into what matters most: establishing a reading life and getting students to be “nose-in-the-book” readers. Elementary, intermediate, and secondary teachers surveyed students to learn more about their interests, helped students find books that they can read with fluency, and challenged students to read with deep engagement and intensity. We know that giving students the ability to choose what they want to read can increase joy and engagement in reading. Therefore, we are continually adding new books to our classroom libraries to increase reading engagement. Ask your child what they are currently reading and why they chose to read it. Also, ask them what book they plan to read next. Schedule and establish time to read at home each day. Expect, support, and encourage all children, no matter what grade, to read more this school year!

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Meanwhile, at the October 7 PD Day, ELA staff spent time reading a professional text (What to Teach Readers Tomorrow? by Gravity Goldberg) and talking about how to support students thinking about texts. Teachers planned and practiced mini lessons on teaching students to write about their reading. In the afternoon, teachers had the opportunity to look at and analyze student test data. They created data binders that will enable them to set individual student goals and continually monitor student progress.

Celebrating Our Students That Exceeded Expectations!

As many already know, the NJ Student Learning Assessments for English Language Arts (NJSLA-ELA) and for Mathematics (NJSLA-M) measure the extent to which students are, or on track to being, college or career ready in each of the two respective areas.


The Spring 2019 NJSLA assessments were administered to students in grade 3 through high school. On these assessments, performance levels are used to describe how well students met the expectations for their grade level/course. The highest level is a 5 (exceeding expectations).


We are proud to announce that 99 of our Willingboro Public School students earned a Level 5 score on the NJSLA!!!!!!! This is an extremely rare feat that we should all be excited about!!!!


Below are the breakdowns of the Level 5 performances:


  • Grade 3: 6 Level 5 scores
  • Grade 4: 33 Level 5 scores
  • Grade 5: 12 Level 5 scores
  • Grade 6: 6 Level 5 scores
  • Grade 7: 16 Level 5 scores
  • Grade 8: 17 Level 5 scores
  • ELA 9: 5 Level 5 scores
  • ELA 10: 4 Level 5 scores

Way to go!!!!

New WHS Courses for 2019-20!

At Willingboro High School, students have enrolled in several new courses in various content areas:


  • Creative Writing
  • Journalism
  • Drama I
  • Film Studies
  • Food Science
  • World Cuisine
  • Creative Foods
  • Statistics, Data Analysis & Probability
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Accounting I & II
  • Economics
  • Computer Science I (through a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science)


In addition, WHS students have also enrolled in a host of online courses in various content areas, including:


  • Standardized Assessment Preparation (SAT, ACT)
  • Anthropology
  • Contemporary World Issues
  • World Religions
  • Careers in Criminal Justice
  • Marine Science
  • Astronomy
  • Game Design
  • Animation
  • Sports and Entertainment Marketing
  • AP Art History

WPS will not stop here! We believe in the concept of constant growth and evolution. As such, we will continue to add new course offerings to the WHS Program of Studies and make our students' secondary experiences even more relevant and meaningful!

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:


  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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!

https://youtu.be/ySYFrQDRZHQ

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.

https://youtu.be/4isSHf3SBuQ

Willingboro Public Schools Board of Education

Dennis Tunstall - President

Grover McKenzie - Vice President

Tonya Brown

Gary Johnson

Kimbrali Davis

Debra Williams

Laurie Gibson-Parker

Carlos Worthy

Alexis Harkley

WPS Office of Curriculum & Instruction

Ron Zalika

Director of Curriculum & Instruction

rzalika@wboe.net


Jennifer Brandon

Supervisor of Instruction - Science

jbrandon@wboe.net


Michael Braverman

Supervisor of Instruction - Math

mbraverman@wboe.net


Sharon Williams

Supervisor of Instruction - Literacy

swilliams@wboe.net