Teachers and curriculum leaders in Proviso Township High Schools District 209 are spending part of their summer renewing the district’s curriculum to be ready for the Common Core and new PARCC exams that begin in the 2014-15 school year.
Throughout June, the group of 44 faculty members has been meeting as part of a curriculum renewal process. The process is designed to align the district’s curriculum in the four core subject areas of English, mathematics, science, and social studies to the Common Core Standards and the new PARCC assessments that will be administered starting in the 2014-15 school year. The process also is designed to ensure that the curriculum is the same at both Proviso East High School and Proviso West High School and to further develop a student’s skills as they progress through high school, said Dr. Leslie R. Wilson, the district’s interim assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
"It’s so we know that our students are getting an integrated and sequential education," Dr. Wilson said. "We want to ensure that our students at Proviso East are getting the same curriculum as at Proviso West. By the time a student graduates, we know that students know what they need to know, and that they can do what they need to do, according to national core standards. "This summer is a golden opportunity for us to bring together some of our finest faculty and develop a tight, focused model that everyone is using."
Part of that process is redesigning the curriculum and the way that teachers present it to students. For example, the focus of developing students’ literacy skills will be incorporated into all subject areas, including mathematics. In mathematics, there will be a shift toward more coherence, fluency, and deeper understanding of concepts and applications.
"Nothing in math changes," said Mr. Bob Darnell, a consultant from Achievement Strategies who has been working with faculty on the curriculum renewal process. "The way you show it changes."
Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209, said that the curriculum renewal will help improve the way that students are taught the skills they need to succeed in life.
"Times have changed and students have changed in the way that they learn," she said. "We need to find different ways of reaching students with the knowledge, concepts, and skills that they need to succeed after high school. Through the renewing of our curriculum as we shift to the Common Core Standards, our teachers will be better prepared to teach these needed concepts to our students, who in turn will be better prepared to achieve."
Teachers at the workshops said that they were ready to take what they have learned back to the classrooms. Ms. Patty Page, a science teacher at Proviso West High School, said that she liked being able to be creative with teaching the concepts to students.
"Teachers will document what they did," she said. "Each teacher will then have a different map. It made me feel I have autonomy and I can be creative."
Dr. Patrice Reiger, chairperson of the Proviso East English department, said that the curriculum renewal process will provide more focus to instruction.
"It helps us to be more reflective in our practice as we internalize the Common Core standards and apply it to our daily lessons," Dr. Reiger said. "Our students are more focused on what they’re supposed to know across the curriculum."
Ms. Lindsey Coppola, a Proviso West English teacher, said that she appreciated the curriculum being the same across the district.
"Having continuity among the schools enforces the idea that we’re one district," she said. "It reinforces the responsibility of the student and the teacher. Everyone’s going to be on the same page."