2011-03-06 / Viewpoints

Chalk Talk

Curriculum and Instruction
By Melinda Soule Middle School Assistant Principal & K-8 Curriculm Directort Chesaning Union Schools

Last year, as I wrote this article I was very excited to tell our community that we had recently purchased new Social Studies materials for first through eighth grade classrooms. This year, as we continue our focus on curriculum and instruction, the spotlight is on Common Core State Standards and updating our Language Arts Curriculum and materials. Our first step in updating our Language Arts Curriculum is to verify our alignment with the state of Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCEs). The Grade Level Content Expectations build from the Michigan Curriculum Framework and its Teaching and Assessment Standards. Reflecting best practices and current research, they provide a set of clear and rigorous expectations for all students and provide teachers with clearly defined statements of what students should know and be able to do as they progress through school. The Grade Level Content Expectations put forth by the state of Michigan are a framework for districts to follow. Much of our curriculum goes beyond this framework.

We will soon be faced with the more rigorous outcomes of the Common Core State Standards. In the area of Language Arts, a great deal of the Common Core focuses on expository reading and writing as well as reading and understanding complex text. In order to become more familiar with the Common Core State Standards many of our staff members have been taking advantage of the informational conferences presented by Saginaw ISD, Bay-Arenac ISD, and Midland County ESA. Some of the aspects that make the Common Core different from our current GLCE’s are that the Common Core:

 Builds on strengths of our state standards

 Has a common language

 Includes a common assessment (to begin in 2014)

 Is evidence-based

 Has fewer, clearer, higher expectations

Once we have aligned our curriculum and identified our curricular goals and objectives we move on to determining acceptable evidence that our objectives have been met. As a team, educators determine what the end result should look like for each standard being taught and discuss at length the learning experiences and instruction that need to take place. This is where the teachers of Chesaning Union Schools shine! It is their knowledge of the content and the art of teaching combined with their ability to motivate students that create an exceptional learning experience for our students.

As we discuss instruction, a great deal of our conversation is committed to determining the appropriate tools to use in order to enhance learning and ensure best practices are being utilized. Recently, elementary teachers have been working in grade level teams to determine their needs in the areas of reading and writing. This month we will be evaluating several different reading and writing programs in order to determine which materials best support the outcomes of both the current Grade Level Content Expectations and the forth coming Common Core State Standards.

As we continue our focus on Curriculum and Instruction at Chesaning Union Schools we are committed to preparing our students for the more rigorous outcomes of the Common Core.

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