Curriculum Information

Currently, all curriculum maps for our district are being audited by Patrick Leary, Assistant Superintendent.

Writing and Research: The Foundation of Success

Writing is evidence of thought. Good writing is evidence of good thinking. If we want our students to achieve at their highest level in school and beyond we have to help them write clearly, creatively, and concisely.

This year we are taking our already strong writing program to a new level with the following enhancements:

Introduction of Writing Workshop in Grades K-4: This approach to writing instruction was developed at Columbia's Teachers College and shares the same philosophy and structure as Reading Workshop.

  • Teachers provide students with direct instruction and models of great writing in genres such as fiction, non-fiction, poetry and personal essay.
  • Students are taught not only grammar, punctuation, and spelling but a wide array of other skills, including how to choose meaningful topics, how to support their arguments with evidence, and how to write in ways that create a movie in the mind of their readers.
  • Students practice the strategies they have been taught on topics of their choosing.
  • Students write each day in their Writer's Notebooks and publish pieces throughout the year.

Development of Research Curriculum, K-12: Our library-media specialists are collaborating to create an approach to teaching research that will build sequentially as students progress through the grades. The emphasis will be on building skills in the following areas:

  • Developing topics and thesis statements inspired by curiosity and passion
  • Locating accurate sources of information from a variety of media
  • Extracting and recording relevant information
  • Organizing and presenting findings
  • Evaluating the process and the product

The media specialists will be working with the teachers of science, social studies, and language arts to integrate their lessons on research, and they will be refining their curriculum over the next several years.

Making Social Studies Real and Relevant
The world is a complex place - politically, economically, geographically, and culturally. The purpose of our newly revised social studies curriculum is to give our students an understanding of that world and the inspiration to make a difference in it. Key changes in the curriculum include:

  • A focus on active citizenship in which students research real issues on a local, state, or national level and make their voices heard
  • An increased focus on geography. Students will, for example, be expected to draw a freehand map of the U.S. by grade 4 and a free-hand map of the world by grade 7.
  • An increased focus on economics. All grade levels will include a developmentally appropriate discussion of economic issues. The high school will require a 2.5 credit course on personal finance and will also explore the possibility of having a local bank set up a branch in the cafeteria.
  • An increased focus on current events. Our kindergartners will be exposed to Scholastic News and our high school students will have access to CNN on the TV's in the cafeteria.
  • A more coherent sequence of courses:
    • Grade 5-7 will now teach chronologically connected periods of American History beginning with colonization and concluding with the Cold War.
    • The study of ancient civilizations will be moved from grade 6 to grade 8 where it will form the foundation for students' study of World Cultures in grade 9.
    • U.S. History I and II will now be taught in grades 10 and 11 rather than grades 11 and 12. (This change will be transitioned over the next two years.)
  • New textbooks and online resources have been purchased when needed to support the new curriculum and the state's new standards
    • Social Studies Alive! will be used for grades K-4
    • Making A New Nation will be used in grade 5.
    • Mapping the World by Heart will be used for one unit in grade 7
    • Ancient Civilizations will be used in grade 8.
    • Financial Literacy will be used for the new economics course in grade 12.

The World Language program and the program in the Fine and Performing Arts will be reviewed this year. Parents are welcome to offer their feedback about these programs through emails to the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction or through focus groups to be held in February.