Willingboro Public Schools
From the WPS Office of Curriculum & Instruction
CURRICULUM MATTERS - MONTHLY NEWSLETTER (NOVEMBER 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 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.
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. 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
Over the course of the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to visit many of the mathematics classes in our schools. I have seen examples of terrific teaching, students participating and learning, and great progress made at all levels. It is great to see the students participating enthusiastically in their classrooms, and it seems like there is real learning occurring all around the district. I am hopeful that we will see the results of this in both our district assessment and state assessment data down the road. Regardless, we still have a lot of work to do, and our teachers cannot do this alone: we need the students to step up and parents to support both us and our students in this work.
How To Help Your Child in Math:
Many of our students are two or more years below grade level. There are many possible reasons for this, but I am not looking to assess blame here...instead, I am proposing a solution: practice, practice, practice:
One quick way to fix some of these challenges is to have your children attain a grade-appropriate mastery of skills. Kindergarten should master the concept of number and counting. Grades 1 and 2 should develop strong addition and subtraction skills. If students come into grade 3 with a strong understanding of addition/subtraction skills and students come into grade 4 with a strong understanding of multiplication and division skills, everything else is much easier. Grade 1 begins to develop the concept of place value, which is a critical skill that is practiced consistently through grade 5. Mastery of the facts is helpful, too.
Teachers have been asked to scaffold their teaching with previously-learned skills, but students need additional time and support, too. Please encourage your children to continue practicing until they are comfortable and confident with these fundamental skills.
Struggling students in grades 5-10 who have demonstrated a need for this are receiving additional support in these (and other) areas in their Math Lab classes. Additionally, XTRAMath.org is a free website where students can practice their facts. Our elementary school students also have access to ZEARN (they need to login through Clever to access this) and Number Gym (a part of ZEARN designed for our ECDC students -- some of our 1-4 students also benefit from Number Gym).
Willingboro Public Library has computers and internet set up to assist our students, and also have “The Math Lady” a few days each week for additional support. Ask your child’s teacher about other resources that are available.
Encourage your children to practice their math: You would never expect an NFL team to play on Sunday without ever practicing, yet many of our struggling students come into class without completing their homework. There is such a huge difference between students who try to complete their homework, but are unable to, and those who do not try at all. Unfortunately, a blank paper looks exactly the same, regardless of who is “not completing” their homework.
Please visit https://mbraverman.weebly.com/willingboro-parent-page.html for links and tips to assist your children with their homework and homework completion. Expect a homework assignment every night. Ask your child’s teachers about their homework policy, and ensure that your child completes all assignments. If they are “stuck”, then have them write a question or description of where they are stuck.
In addition to students who choose not to complete homework, we also have some students who do not participate fully in class or attempt all assessment questions. The most common answer to questions on our district benchmark assessments is “idk”. In many cases, the response time for students on these questions is less than 4 seconds, indicating that students simply see a word problem, type “idk”, then move to the next problem, without even taking the time to fully read the question and process the information or trying to answer the question.
Together, we can help our students to succeed!!!
Please partner with your children and teachers to help build confidence and competence in mathematics throughout their education!!!
WPS Science Corner
The Willingboro Public School District is gearing up to start it’s
annual STEM Conference activities…
"Surprising to some, a science fair project is one of the best learning experiences a student can undertake. And, if it is taken seriously, it can be an excellent way to earn significant prizes, qualify for scholarships, and distinguish a college application." In a great article entitled "The Value of a Science Fair Project" on the Science Buddies website, the important role a "Science Fair" event is detailed. Take a look and see why WPS continues to raise the bar of excellence in science education.
You will be receiving more information on specifics shortly. In the meantime, below is a list resources to help you support your student as they prepare for science experiments.
WPS Literacy Corner
Your child’s teacher may have discussed your child’s reading level or will do so at upcoming parent/teacher conferences. Students in grades Kindergarten through 10th grade take assessments to determine their reading levels. We believe that reading levels are a valuable tool for teachers, and are never to be used as a label for the children we teach, but rather should be used to make good decisions about instruction.
In grades K-4, teachers use the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System. This assessment is administered to each child individually, (3 times per year) to identify a child’s instructional and independent reading levels according to the F&P Text Level Gradient, A-Z. This system provides our teachers with precise data, which enables them to plan for meaningful and effective instruction, tailored to students’ individual needs.
In grades 5-10, students in our Literacy Lab take an assessment which gives a Lexile Score. This score represents a student’s ability on the Lexile scale. If you have questions about how Lexile measures relate to grade levels, see scale here.
Knowing your child’s reading level is good information. It lets you know where your child is and how they are progressing. However, it should not be used to limit students selection of books to read. When students select books, they should be guided by interest and enjoyment, not by level. Remember, a reading level is the result of a complex analysis that children don’t need to understand. The teacher’s knowledge of the child’s reading level allows them to guide and support the child’s choices, while also understanding that a child will experience a variety of levels of text throughout the day in different instructional contexts like interactive read-aloud, shared reading, book clubs, independent reading and guided reading. So, be sure to discuss your child’s reading interest as well as his or her reading level. Our goal is to foster and nurture a love of books and reading.
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