Curriculum and Instruction News

February 2019

Professional Development

Fox C-6 Educators Sharing at Regional Conferences

In the past few months, 19 Fox C-6 educators have led 14 sessions at regional conferences to share the amazing things happening in our schools and classrooms. Congratulations to the following individuals and groups who have recently presented at regional conferences.

In addition to those pictured above, the following Fox C-6 educators have recently presented at regional conferences:

  • Becky Alden, Jen Joergensen, Nicole Schnabel: Midwest Educational Technology Conference, "Digitizing your Curriculum"
  • Sherrie Bonastia: Interface, "Growth Mindset & STEM...STEM is NOT an activity"
  • Robin Greene, Nik Maxwell, Heather Schwalbe, Ryan Sherp: Powerful Learning Conference, "Implementing Block Schedule with PLC and Intervention Time for Schools with Limited Resources"
  • Vicki Mikow: Midwest Educational Technology Conference, "Cultivating a Curious Classroom", "Get Kids Excited about Writing through Augmented Reality", and Micro::bits = Mega:fun"
  • JP Prezzavento: Midwest Educational Technology Conference, "I just attended the Best. Conference. Ever.", "Edtech PodSquad LIVE", and "Memes, GIFs, and #Booksnaps, oh my!"

Spring EPEPS

Seven of our spring EPEPs are up and running. The Flipped Classroom EPEP begins in March with meetings on Mar 26, Apr 2, and Apr 9. Please contact Robin Greene if you are interested in signing up for this learning.

Common Focus: Content-rich Informational Text and Note Taking

Embedded in the curriculum work going on in all subject areas you might miss one common focus if you don’t look for it: content-rich informational text. This is a type of non-fiction reading that deserves special time and attention. Most people tend to think of texts in two categories: fiction and non-fiction. Non-fiction is a very broad category that includes narrative history, biography, and memoir. These genres read a lot like novels, they just happen to be true. Informational texts are a different kind of non-fiction in which the author isn’t trying to tell you the story of what happened, isn’t organizing things around characters, their problems, and how they solved them. Content-rich informational texts are written to explain what people know about a particular topic. To learn more about informational text, the role it plays in our curriculum, and resources we can and do utilize to address reading informational text, click here.

Curriculum Writing Teams

6-12 Math Curriculum Team

The 6-12 Math Curriculum Writing Teams have been hard at work. Grades 6-9 have been continuing their work from last year. They have been modifying pre- and post-assessments, piloting materials, and updating curriculum documents. Geometry and Algebra II teams have begun their curriculum work. They have established units, completed curriculum documents, and are finalizing their pre and post-assessments. They have also evaluated potential resources. Some teams are beginning their curriculum work on the advanced math courses.

6-12 Science Curriculum Team

The 6-12 Science Curriculum Writing Teams also accomplished a lot last semester. They are modifying units and field testing their assessments. The equipment for Physics and the Earth arrived and is being used in classrooms. Middle school science teachers are having conversations around equipment to support science learning with a focus on inquiry. The environmental science team was added this year to begin their work on units and complex tasks. Curriculum writers have also begun to write curriculum for Pre-AP Physics and the Earth.

6-12 ELA Curriculum Team

The 6-12 English Language Arts Curriculum Writing Teams are setting ambitious goals for next year, and the year after. Each unit in the ELA 6-12 Curriculum will define three common elements:

  1. Published writing task (narrative, informational, or argument)

  2. Reflective writing task (response writing, or note-taking)

  3. Editing for conventions focus (grammar, usage, or correctness)

While curriculum writers, pilot teachers, and early adopters will be working to incorporate all these elements, our goal for all 6-12 ELA teachers is to complete common scoring of three published writing products during the 2019-20 school year. Administrators and department chairs are working now to schedule PLC time to develop a specific plan for each course team to accomplish this. The goal for the following year is to complete common scoring for reflective writing and conventions.

6-12 Social Studies Curriculum Team

The 6-12 Social Studies Curriculum Writing Teams have been working all year to revise their complex tasks for grade 6 through 9, and to develop units for 10th-grade World History and 11th-grade Government. The new tasks for the 6th through 9th-grade units should be much more tightly focused. We are working on developing tasks that work effectively as quick pre/post tests that students can complete entirely independently. The longer DBQ writing assignments that are important learning experiences for students are still fundamental to the units. We are learning how to pair shorter, on-demand, independent tasks as pre/post-tests that will show us what students have learned throughout the writing process.

Reading Fluency Accommodations

For our learners who struggle with reading fluency, all content areas can be quite overwhelming. One of the biggest challenges for teachers is helping students access course content without reading deficits getting in the way of student learning.

As we continue to think about the support we offer for students with reading fluency issues, it is important to understand the differences between accommodations and interventions. When we are looking towards accommodating learners, we should be looking at providing support in getting to the actual content of the work you are doing. To a certain extent, teachers will be looking to ease the act of reading. When intervening with students we are working towards actually developing the deficits in the area of fluency. This would come in the form of providing some instruction around key fluency skills, such as word analysis, that could support your specific content area.

The trick to choosing the right accommodations is in finding the right “fit” for your students. Since there are so many digital tools that can provide accommodations to our students, we have curated a list of recommended digital accommodations and packaged them into a short PD module with instructional videos, links, and explanations of each accommodation. This PD module has been created for individual use, PLC teams, or for a faculty meeting discussion.

The module can be accessed at

Instructional Technology

Google Classroom and Tyler Gradebook Sync

The Technology Department recently enabled grade book syncing between Google Classroom and Tyler Classroom 360. Teachers who are using Tyler's new Classroom 360 are able to sync their Google Classroom classes with Tyler and import graded and returned assignments from Google Classroom to their Tyler grade book with just a few clicks. The video below from Jen Walter, Antonia Middle teacher and Edtech Instructional Specialist, demonstrates the process. If you have questions about this, feel free to contact JP Prezzavento, Jen Walter, or Lu Weithop.

Federal Programs

Fast Tips for Educators of Students Facing Homelessness

While it may be impossible for educators to remove all obstacles faced by students who are dealing with homelessness, it does make a huge difference when the student has a loving and caring teacher who does try to remove at least some of those obstacles. Here is a list of things educators can do to help support these students:

  1. Try to connect the student with resources should the student be in need of food, clothing, medical and/or dental care.

  2. Pair the student with a buddy or mentor for some additional support and connection.

  3. Try to help the student find solutions to issues they may have with attendance, hygiene and homework completion as a result of facing homelessness.

  4. Be a friendly face who provides the student with a smile and a presence that makes them feel welcomed and valued. Sometimes the situations the student is going through at home can be very difficult to face and having someone just care about them can help a great deal.

  5. Give choices when appropriate to counter the loss of control experienced in their lives.

  6. Allow students to express fears and frustrations and allow opportunities to do so in other ways in addition to verbalizing (i.e., drawing).

  7. Show sensitivity when asking children to bring food, photographs, favorite toys, or other items from home. Children who are homeless are often embarrassed to admit that they do not have these things.

Fast Tips for Educators of English Language Learners

  • Offer opportunities/time for class and peer discussions

  • When possible use visuals and graphic organizers

  • Allow for some periods of silence (this is a normal phase for many English Learners as they learning a new language)

  • Allow the English language learners to begin using English by scaffolding in his/her native language

  • Research the parts of speech used in the student's native language. This can help you understand why they sometimes may form sentences in a different way.

  • Use sentence frames so students may use academic language without having to worry about sentence structure while trying to concentrate on the meaning of certain academic terminology

  • Pre- or Re-teach slowly, using visuals, when possible.

Other available ELL resources:

  • “Growing Together”- Our Adult English Collaboration with Jefferson College that provides free English learning classes for adults in our community. Great opportunity for parents and grandparents wanting to learn English as well.

  • “Can-Do-Plan”- This is a list of tasks that an educator can expect a student is capable in relations to the student’s English proficiency level. This assists educators and students in setting appropriate academic goals for students given the student’s English proficiency scores.

  • “Begin at the Beginning”- This is a service we provide by distributing kits to incoming kindergarten students. The information and tools provided in the kits help to create a positive transition into kindergarten for our English Language Learners. We will begin compiling a list of students to receive these kits in March.

  • “Family Bilingual Book Program”- This program offers books in many various languages that families can use in the home so parents and students get to experience the joy of sharing literature in both English and native languages.

  • Find a list of free online games for English Language Learners here:

Free Online Games For ELLs

Check out our Blog for more tips at:

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