Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Post for the week of March 25, 2013

Post for the week of March 25, 2013

The DESE recently launched its new series on Curriculum Alignment and Mapping (see lots of info below).  If you missed the opening Webinars, please visit the Webinar Recordings page of this Google Site to watch them.  They include a PowerPoint with excellent and diverse examples.

The new emphasis on curriculum mapping has made me think about its purpose.  Let's think about it like we're planning an assignment for students. 

What is the purpose of the assignment?  Is it to have something on the school's Web page or in a binder?  Is it to document what you already do, or what curriculum you'd like to do?  Is it an organic document that will change over time, or will it be the same for a few years?  If it will change, who is responsible for changing it? 
Who is the audience for this work?  Teachers, administrators, parents, or all of the above?  Do the new teachers have it?  Will they know how to read it or what the school's expectations are?
Who will write it?  Teachers or administrators?  When will we read it? 
When is it due?  Is there are deadline?
How long should it be (frequent student question!)?  What are the essential components? 
What are the criteria for success?  How will we know if we have a successful curriculum map?

This series will offer lots of examples.  The idea is that there is no "right" way to make a curriculum map; every school will have to decide for itself what it needs.  Next week, I'll highlight what I need in a curriculum map to make it work for me. 

New Series on Curriculum Alignment & Mapping:
ESE, in partnership with the Governor's Readiness Centers, has developed a new series on curriculum mapping as a core tool for communicating about and aligning curriculum and instruction across grades, subject areas, and schools. During the series, which includes two webinars, a two-day summer institute, and follow-up activities, participants will discuss the status of curriculum mapping in their districts, gain access to exemplary models and other support resources, and use guided planning time to take their curriculum planning to the next level.

The complete series, which is funded by a Race to the Top grant, will include:
- Webinar 1: Introduction (March 7 and 8)
- Webinar 2: Mapping Common Core Shifts in ELA, Math, or History (May/June)
- Summer Institute: Guided Team Time (2-day regional institutes, June/July)
- Webinar 3: Sharing Examples (Fall 2013)
- Session at 6th Annual ESE Curriculum & Instruction Summit (Nov. 6 or 7, 2013)
- Wiki with examples and other resources
- Coaching Support

Curriculum mapping, webinars, institutes, and resources will be made available to all MA public school districts.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Post for the week of March 18, 2013

Post for the week of March 18, 2013

As a teacher, I was always a bit nervous when asked to provide a lesson plan.  I had a one- or two-page format I liked and had used for years, but how did I know what was required for the person observing the class?  How did I know I had done a thorough job thinking through my teaching?

The DESE has released four Model Curriculum Units to the public, and they provide us with a UbD-style unit, lesson, and CEPA (curriculum embedded performance assessment) summative assessment plan.  UbD (Understanding by Design) is an organizational structure by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. 

I recently read over the Grade 3 released prototype, and it helped me to see one idea of the components of unit plans, lesson plans, and CEPAs. 

First, the unit had an intro:

Table of Contents

Then were the three stages of the unit plan:

Stage One (Desired Results)
G = Established Goals—Standards
T = Transfer
U = Understandings
Q = Essential Questions
K = Knowledge
S = Skills

Stage Two (Evidence)
            CEPA = Curriculum Embedded Performance Assessment
            PT = Performance Task
            Evaluative Criteria (Criteria for Success)
            OE = Other Evidence

Stage Three (Learning Plan)
            Summary of Key Learning Events and Instruction (list of the lessons in order with a quick description)
At the very end of the unit came the following items:
Appendix: Resources for all the lessons in the Unit  
Bibliography of Unit
Bibliography of related resources
There were a lot of lesson plan components for each unit:
Brief overview
Prior Knowledge Required
Estimated Time
Resources for lessons
Content Area
Essential Question addressed in this lesson
Standard(s)/Unit Goal(s) to be addressed in this lesson
Instructional Resources/Tools
Anticipated Student Preconceptions/Misconceptions
Instructional Model
Instructional Tips/Strategies/Suggestions
Formative Assessment
What students need to know and are able to do coming into this lesson (including language needs)
Lesson Sequence
Lastly, the CEPA consisted of the following elements:
CEPA Teacher Instructions
CEPA Student Instructions
CEPA Rubric
These units, lesson plans, and CEPAs give us a good sense of how a unit of study could be constructed and thought through.  Writing these units is hard work, especially when one has to come to consensus with other teachers and their visions for the content.  To read through them provides a vision for planning, curriculum, and instruction. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Post for the week of March 11, 2013

Post for the week of March 11, 2013

Two interesting Web sites for you this week:

First, there is news that the College Board will be rewriting the SAT exam.  This announcement could be important news for secondary students and teachers in the coming months and years.

Second, a few years ago, I heard Tony Wagner speak about College and Career Readiness.  He interviewed business leaders from across the country and wrote about their visions for career readiness.  What he learned contributed to his "Seven Survival Skills."  In light of the Common Core movement and PARCC, these skills help give me a sense of the purpose and motivation for the changes we are making now. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Announcement: Curriculum Presentations

If you're interested in this presentation, please sign up ASAP.

What’s New in Curriculum? Exploring Two Model Curriculum Units
(one ELA and one mathematics)

Danvers - Holten Middle School - 3/19/2013 9:00 AM
Holyoke - Delaney House - 3/22/2013 9:00 AM
Bridgewater - Bridgewater State - Moakley Center - 3/12/2013 9:00 AM
Fitchburg - Fitchburg State University - Hammond Building - 3/27/2013 8:30 AM
North Adams - Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) - 3/21/2013 12:30 PM
The registration site (and a description of the session) can be found at: http://www.doe.mass.edu/conference/?ConferenceID=1485

If you'd like to see the four public units, please see the middle of this page.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Post for the week of March 4, 2013

Post for the week of March 4, 2013

For a few years, people have been speaking of "unpacking the standards."  It would also be a good idea to "unpack" the questions in Appendix B.

Appendix B provides us with lists of texts at appropriate Common Core Lexile levels.  It also provides excerpts and "sample performance tasks." 

For example, here's one on page 129:

Students compare George Washington's Farewell Address to other foreign policy statements, such as the Monroe Doctrine, and analyze how both texts address similar themes and concepts regarding "entangling alliances." (RI9-10.9).

Yes, this is an assignment for English class!  It's for grades 9 or 10, informational text.  I added the links to the texts.

So, think about everything students have to know and be able to do to approach this task:

1) Be able to read and understand both the Farewell Address and the Monroe Doctrine (with some background info to help with comprehension, and some pre-taught vocabulary, possibly).

2) Be able to know what it means to "analyze" (take something apart).  To analyze informational text, you also need to know some basic vocabulary for rhetorical analysis: author's purpose, tone, occasion, theme, diction, style, etc.  All of these words need to be taught with models and examples.

3) Be able to compare--possibly using a Venn Diagram to separate and combine shared characteristics. 

4) Be able to pull all this knowledge into an essay!

A task like this is certainly rigorous when you take into account how much work will go into understanding the task and applying the concepts.

Appendix B is a great, free place to find these prompts and start analyzing them with staff.