Posts Tagged "curriculum"

Why Teachers Need More Planning Time

Why Teachers Need More Planning Time

This article discusses “Four Ways State Leaders Can Help Teachers Implement High Quality Curriculum.” One of the author’s suggestions is that leaders provide time and space for educators to plan. One of the reasons educators need more planning time is that online preK-12 materials have become increasingly complex to use. Here’s why.

Learning List reviewers have reviewed thousands of PreK-12 instructional materials. Our team is adept at learning how to navigate through online materials. These days, reviewing online materials is taking longer because materials often consist of different components to remediate, enrich and extend students’ learning.  Sometimes, each component uses a different online platform; more commonly, the assessments component uses a different platform from the material’s instructional components.  Thus, merely learning how to navigate through online materials takes longer than it used to.

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Mapping Resources to your District Curriculum

Mapping Resources to your District Curriculum

Districts invest significant time, resources, and money into the development of curriculum and the purchase of instructional materials. A lack of consistency between the sequence of the curriculum and the sequence of instructional materials can be a hurdle to implementation of both.

Mapping instructional resources to the district curriculum will support teachers with planning so that lessons and activities from instructional materials are in sync with the curriculum. 

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New Product: Heinemann’s Units of Study in Reading Middle School Grades

Which instructional materials is your district considering for reading instruction in middle school? Particularly if you are implementing the reading workshop model, consider Learning List’s review of Heinemann’s Units of Study in Reading Middle School Grades (Units of Study Reading).

Units of Study Reading is a supplemental reading product for students in grades 6 through 8. The program is primarily an instructional narrative for teachers and includes print and online teaching resources. Lucy Calkins’ workshop model underpins the framework for reading instruction focusing on developing avid readers who choose and understand increasingly complex texts. Units are not specific to a grade level which means district or campus staff sequence the units based on the district’s curriculum, availability of resources, and student needs or reading levels. Teachers without prior experience in teaching writing workshop will require significant professional development and time to study materials and resources to ensure successful implementation.  [Read more. . . ]

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Defining Roles: Standards vs. Curricula vs. Instructional Materials

FocusEducators and publishers often use the terms “standards,” “curriculum” and/or “instructional materials” interchangeably. Moreover, many educators consider their instructional materials to be their curriculum. However, each of these terms represents a distinct component of an educational program. In the sections that follow, we provide explanations of each of these terms to differentiate their meanings in the context of PreK-12 education.

Standards set out what students are expected to know and be able to do at the end of each school year. Standards are generally established at the state level. In fact, ESSA requires that each state create learning standards for public schools in three subjects—English language arts/reading, mathematics, and science—and many states go beyond ESSA’s minimum to set standards in social studies, career and technical education, languages other than English, and other subjects.

In contrast, the curriculum is developed at the district level, the product of local policy making. While the standards tell you what is expected, the curriculum provides the road map to get there. Often described in documents such as “scope and sequence” and “units of instruction,” a curriculum includes goals, instructional practices and pedagogical guidance, suggested resources and instructional materials, and methods of measuring student progress. [Read more…]

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Administrators, Are You Using Learning List to Plan for Observations?

It’s mid-September and classroom observations are starting.Teacher at desk

Learning List resources can assist you in preparing for classroom observations and coaching conversations. Below are sample questions related to each T-TESS dimension that addresses “alignment” of lessons and  activities to the state standards and using materials to assess student progress. These questions may be useful in conversations prior to observations or edited and used during coaching conversations after observations.

Please note, the short descriptions of the dimensions below does not capture the full scope of the rubric’s expectations. Consult the rubric for further detail.

Planning Dimension 1.1: The teacher designs clear, well organized, sequential lessons that reflect best practice, align with standards and are appropriate for diverse learners.

Sample Coaching Questions

  • Which instructional material(s) supports the objectives for this lesson?
  • What criteria do you use to determine whether an instructional material is aligned to the standards being taught in the lesson?
  • How do you determine the sequence of instructional materials to use?
  • Will you use technology in the lesson? If so, how will you determine the most appropriate technology to use?
  • How are you using instructional materials to help you differentiate instruction?

Planning Dimension 1.2: The teacher uses formal and informal methods to measure student progress, then manages and analyzes student data to inform instruction.

Sample Coaching Questions

  • What type of instruments will you use to assess student progress?
  • How will you use the data you get back from those formative assessments to guide small group instruction?
  • How do you involve students in monitoring their progress?
  • What resources are available for instructing students of varying needs? What criteria do you use to determine which to use?
  • What type of feedback do you find most effective with the students you teach?

Planning Dimension 1.4: The teacher plans engaging, flexible lessons that engage higher-order thinking, persistence and achievement.

Sample Coaching Questions

  • What questions have you planned for the lesson?
  • Which questioning and/or other strategies will you use to encourage all students to engage in higher-order thinking?
  • How will you use your instructional materials to prompt students to engage in higher order thinking and questioning?
  • How will you assess the alignment of your activities with instructional materials?

Instruction Dimension 2.2: The teacher uses content and pedagogical expertise to design and execute lessons aligned with state standards, related content and student needs.

Sample Coaching Questions

  • Can you demonstrate that this lesson is aligned to the state standards you are intending to cover?
  • How does this lesson align to the district curriculum (scope and sequence)?
  • How will you use your instructional materials to provide students with opportunities to use different types of thinking and problem solving skills? What real world scenarios will you reference to support student learning?

We encourage principals to leverage the reviews and tools on Learning List to help implement the T-TESS rubric during the observation and coaching cycle.  Contact us if you would like to schedule training to help support this important work.

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