When writing about anything relating to curriculum, it is important to clarify definitions. It seems that with each passing generation of students additional layers of meaning are added to the term. For the purposes of this article, curriculum refers to the instructional materials teachers use in their classrooms.
With parent-teacher conferences scheduled for next week, the topic of curriculum is very timely. Conferences are a great time to discuss curriculum resources with those that use them on a daily basis. Teachers have the opportunity to share both district-wide curriculum resources and unique teacher specific resources used for instruction. Parents have the opportunity to ask questions and look at curriculum resources alongside their child’s teacher.
In these modern times, curriculum adoptions are very expensive. It has been a decade since the district adopted language arts curriculum resources for grades K-6. According to our records, the total cost was well over $90,000, not including the professional development and ongoing replacement of expendable resources. Over the years, our teachers and administrators have been very frugal and used these resources efficiently. However, it is time to update our curriculum resources for grades K-5.
Last spring, we began reviewing elementary curriculum resources in all subject areas. We invited the staff and community members to visit the district office and review materials that were on display. Additionally, a list of curriculum options and an easy to access comment form have been on our website for almost a year. During the months the materials were displayed and online, we received six suggestions/comments.
As part of the review process, some elementary teachers asked to pilot Compass Learning for students in 3rd-5th grade. Individual teachers in kindergarten through second grade have supplemented currently adopted curriculum with other digital resources on a limited basis in consultation with their principals and advisory school boards.
Based on input from teachers, principals and parents, the board of education will consider the recommendation to adopt Compass Learning as a curriculum resource for grades 2nd-5th, for language arts and mathematics. Teachers in those grades will continue to narrow their recommendations for updated non-digital core curriculum resources to use with Compass Learning. Once finalized, their recommendations will be presented to the Board of Education for adoption at a public meeting. All current curriculum resources will continue to be available to teachers for use in their classrooms. Teachers and administrators will also continue to narrow their recommendations for kindergarten and first grade curriculum resources.
If you would like to view compass learning, please visit their website at www.compasslearning.com. You can submit your comments to the CRSD Board of Education through our webpage or by attending the regular monthly meeting on April 7, 2014.
Curriculum materials are tools in the hands of our teachers. Tools are only as good as the one who uses them. I am confident that the curriculum we purchase, now and in the future, will be used by our teachers to provide a quality education for each student. I encourage you to visit your child’s classroom and observe the diligence and dedication that each teacher expends for their students. In the hands of a skilled teacher, a box of crayons, a blank piece of paper, or a computer can become a tool for inspiring students to discover something they never knew. It is a remarkable activity to observe! Visit a classroom and watch a teacher use a moment in time to give students knowledge that will last a lifetime.
If you have questions about the curriculum currently being used or being recommended for adoption, please contact your child’s teacher, principal, or me. The upcoming parent-teacher conferences also provide a great opportunity to discuss standards and curriculum with your child’s teacher. If you haven’t been notified of your student’s parent-teacher conference date and time, please contact the school office.
And before we conclude this edition of the Snippets, one of our very own teachers, Heidi Sutter, is currently competing in the 2015 Iditarod Race. Heidi teaches at both Glennallen and Slana Schools. You can follow Heidi’s (bib #76) progress at www.iditarod.com or www.kmakennel.com. Join us in cheering for Ms. Sutter!