Willingboro Public Schools
From the WPS Office of Curriculum & Instruction
CURRICULUM MATTERS - MONTHLY NEWSLETTER (SEPTEMBER 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.
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 now have the opportunity to enroll in several new courses in various content areas:
- Creative Writing
- Drama I
- Film Studies
- Food Science
- World Cuisine
- Creative Foods
- Statistics, Data Analysis & Probability
- Accounting I & II
- Computer Science I (through a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science)
In addition, WHS students can also enroll in a host of online courses in various content areas, including:
- Standardized Assessment Preparation (SAT, ACT)
- Contemporary World Issues
- World Religions
- Careers in Criminal Justice
- Marine Science
- Game Design
- Sports and Entertainment Marketing
- AP Art History
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. 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 Literacy Corner
Building a Reading Life
September is the perfect time for students to set reading goals, and to carve out regular reading time in their often too packed schedule. All Willingboro students are expected to read daily in school and are encouraged to read daily at home. Helping students build an independent reading life is an integral part of our language arts curriculum. We want all of our students to be readers who enjoy talking about books and who choose to read.
Our elementary, intermediate and secondary classrooms are set up to nurture a community of readers; where students have time to read, choice, and opportunities to facilitate discussions about characters, topics, and themes. We will continually measure our success by monitoring students’ stamina, fluency and engagement.
Please join us in cultivating a love of reading!
3 Ways to Cultivate a Love of Reading:
- Read beside them. Schedule time to read and also read whenever you have a few moments to spare. It is important for children to see you reading often and learn how you manage spare time.
- Start a Read-a-Thon at home. With younger children read a book every night and record the titles in a notebook. Celebrate when you reach milestones and especially when you reach 100 books Join the 11th Annual #BOOKADAY Challenge.
- Invite older children to listen to audio books. Audio books "count" as reading too. While you're not developing decoding or fluency skills, you are acquiring vocabulary, applying comprehension strategies, and enjoying stories or accruing information. Some audio books have the ability to stick with readers in ways that reading text hasn't. The mind is free to visualize the scenes in a way that creates lasting images. Native Son by Richard Wright is a phenomenal listen. Another great listen is The Watsons Go To Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis or Michelle Obama’s Becoming. Give Audiobooks a try!
WPS Science Corner
Welcome to the 2019-20 School Year! There are amazing things happening in science classes! Keep reading to find out how you child will be interacting with all things science this year!
There are several things that are evident in a standards-based teaching and learning environment:
Instruction is "hands-on" with students using materials to experience active science.
- There are adequate and safe facilities, equipment and materials for science activities
- There are clearly stated goals for the science curriculum and science lessons.
- Textbooks do not allow the child to have as many hands-on experiences in class - our science classes have science resource books instead of the traditional textbooks.
Students are encouraged to ask questions about the world around them and practice science skills.
- Students' science experiences teach them to connect science concepts to their experience, see how human nature influences science, and explore how science and technology affects their lives.
- The science classes include activities that engage students in applying their science skills and understandings to examine social issues, solve real problems and make decisions.
- Students have the opportunity to use a variety of equipment and technology in their scientific investigations
- Students learn how to find out and make up their own minds by experimenting and investigating how the world works rather than just memorizing facts.
- Students are learning how to conduct scientific inquiry and use data to explain their conclusions.
- The process of investigation and explanation is just as important as knowing "the" answer.
Students have frequent and consistent opportunities to participate in active science learning.
- Students have science experiences and activities every day.
- Students are being taught science every year, beginning in kindergarten and continuing until high school graduation.
- Students study life science, Earth & space science, and physical science in their science program.
Teachers plan instruction that builds on what students know and think to increase students' scientific understanding.
- Teachers use the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Science to plan lessons that are challenging, engaging and age appropriate.
- There are resources and opportunities for students to do at-home science activities like participating in the Science Fair.
What can I do to support good science education?
- Learn about and investigate the natural world with your child - you don't have to know all the answers.
- Instill in your child the belief that he/she can succeed in science and that hard work pays off.
- Encourage your child to read about science and scientists and provide opportunities for them to explore science in your community.
- Talk with your child's teacher about their needs, concerns, and expectations for students in science.
- Volunteer to help in the classroom during science activities or at district science events and learn with your child.
WPS Mathematics Corner
New for 2019-2020:
Willingboro Public Schools implemented several new programs in math designed to better meet our students’ needs:
- Kindergarten students will begin the Eureka Mathematics program this year
- Grades 5 & 6 now have accelerated math classes (honors) to better prepare them for Algebra I in Grade 8
- Supplemental math classes (Math lab) now exist at the middle and high school level - these classes are designed to strengthen mathematical foundations.
- Statistics, Data Analysis & Probability is a new elective course at WHS
Improving Math Results:
There are several web-based programs that students can access from home to assist with mathematics, where they can practice old skills or help to master current ones.
- Zearn (K-4): Zearn parallels Eureka Math nicely, with lots of extra problems to assist
- Dreambox: Math Lab students in grades 5-8 can strengthen their mathematical foundations with extra practice in Dreambox
- ALEKS: Math Lab students in grades 9-10 can strengthen their mathematical foundations with extra practice in ALEKS
Parents who would like their children to practice math facts can view the links for Xtra Math (www.xtramath.org -- it’s free!) as well as proven practices to help maximize efficiency with flashcard use. This information can be accessed through the Willingboro Parent Page for Mathematics.
Khanacademy.org: Anyone around the world can access tutorials in mathematics, science, and other subjects. Simply type in the subject you are looking for help in (such as adding fractions) and the videos will display.
Finally, check out the Mathopolis Mathematics Question of the Day (by grade level): https://www.mathopolis.com/questions/day.php.
Check us out on the Web!
Willingboro Mathematics Page ← Note the Parent Help page, where you can find lots of helpful tips with Eureka, Mathematics in General, and Common Core Mathematics. Feel free to look around the site, especially on the “General” page and the “Student” page.
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