FUESD Curriculum Corner

Instructional Program Updates for Parents & the Community

January-February, 2015 Edition


The district is focusing on two instructional initiatives to support teaching and learning in mathematics this year. First, we continue to partner with the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Math Project to provide K-8 teachers with research-based, relevant and engaging professional development that can be applied right away to the math units they are teaching. Recent or upcoming topics are:

Kindergarten: 3D shapes

Grade 1: Compose and Decompose Shapes

Grade 2: Telling Time

Grade 3: Fractions

Grade 4: Fractions and Decimal Fractions

Grade 5: Decimal Operations

Grade 6: Statistics

Grade 7: Expressions, Equations & Inequalities

Grade 8: Integer Exponents & Scientific Notation

Two comments on teacher evaluations following sessions held in December were, " My students are more involved and analyzing what they are learning or what they know" (Grades 7/8 teacher) and "I am using more manipulatives to build understanding of place value and adding 2-digit numbers; I thoroughly enjoy this training and I am excited to use the strategies the next day!" (primary teacher).


Three to five teachers in each grade level are piloting new math curricula in Grades K-6 and 6-8. Go Math (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) is being piloted in Grades K-6 through April, and Carnegie Math is being piloted in Grades 6-8. Teachers who are working with the new materials will meet in May to review and analyze each of two programs they worked with. The teams may (1) recommend a program to the Governing Board for adoption, (2) choose to investigate further, and pilot additional program(s), or (3) not recommend a new program for consideration. Grade 6 teachers are piloting both the elementary (K-6) and middle school programs (6-8).

English Language Arts

FUESD has implemented the new California Standards in English Language Arts this year. The standards, the rationale for their development, and resources to learn more about them can be found in previous editions of Curriculum Corner and links on the Educational Services website.

Pearson has summarized recent research in the area of English Language Arts, "What Do Reading Teachers Need to Know and Do? The Seven Pillars of Effective Reading Instruction" (www.pearsonhighered.com). These pillars provide a framework for highly effective reading instruction that are an important part of the instructional program in all FUESD classrooms:

  1. TEACHER KNOWLEDGE. Once children begin school, teachers influence student academic growth more than any single factor, including families, neighborhoods, and the schools that they attend.
  2. CLASSROOM ASSESSMENT. Teachers design, in collaboration with their peers, their own well-thought out assessment plans. Assessment happens in the classroom before, during and after instruction has taken place.
  3. EVIDENCED-BASED TEACHING PRACTICES. These focus on classroom management, research-based instructional practices applied effectively to the lessons being taught, creating print-rich and highly engaging classroom environments, and integrating reading, writing, listening and speaking.
  4. RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION. Teachers integrate instruction and assessment to meet the needs of students reading at different levels. The use of small group instruction, varied reading selections and written assignments and the use of support staff are approaches typically used in this model.
  5. MOTIVATION AND ENGAGEMENT. Pearson cites research conducted by Turner and Paris, referred to as The Six Cs as a model to understand how motivation and engagement are effectively applied to reading instruction. They are Choice, Challenge, Control (how the teacher engages children), Collaboration, Constructing Meaning, and Consequences (keeping students accountable).
  6. TECHNOLOGY AND NEW LITERACIES. 21st century learning requires that students have many opportunities to interact with technological text that are developmentally appropriate.
  7. FAMILY AND COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS. 80% of student learning occurs outside of school. Teachers can add great power to a child's literacy program by educating the adults in their lives in proven reading development strategies that make sense in our busy world.

District Benchmark Assessments

The FUESD Assessment Committee will meet for its third and final day of work in late January. There are approximately 30 teachers in Grades 2-8 on the committee; a district Instructional Coach (TOSA) is assigned to each grade level.

What are Benchmark Tests, when and and why are they given? District level benchmark assessments typically:

  • are given three times a year in Grades 2-8; Benchmark 2 will be given in late February
  • focus on reading and mathematics skills and concepts, taking about an hour per subject
  • are aligned to the state academic-content standards
  • include valid and reliable questions selected by the grade level teams
  • measure students’ progress through the grade level curriculum
  • are analyzed by each school's grade level teams and leadership to determine what students know and understand, and where further support is needed
  • prepare students for standardized testing in late Spring

FUESD Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) Oversight and Input Committee

The FUESD Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) Input and Oversight Committee met for the second time on Wednesday, January 14th. Teachers, support staff, site and district leaders, and parents are on the committee. Bargaining units, parent advisory members and the PTA are also represented. The meetings have been highly productive, with participants who are highly motivated, focused, and committed to their role. The following has been accomplished so far: Committee members: (1) read and discussed all parts of the plan, including goals, actions and services, (2) reviewed the district’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and Budget and how it interfaces with the LCAP, (3) worked with District staff to analyze metrics (data) for each of the goal areas collected during the first trimester, and (4) developed a list of additional new or enhanced priorities that might be considered in revision of the plan, budget permitting. Two additional Committee meetings are scheduled, in addition to an Open Parent and Community LCAP Forum to be held on April 16th at William H. Frazier Elementary School at 6:00 PM.

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