What do you plan on doing with our curriculum to help the district improve, especially with non-UL kids?

TANYA ANDREWS:    

I will assist the Metuchen School District with it's current curriculum by encouraging a more inviting curricular implementation of instruction in Math and Science. This technique has proven to propel more participation and greater performance from students in other curricular areas as well. I have been privileged to use this technique while substitute teaching in the Metuchen School district during my graduate class studies and it worked like a charm. 

 

 

FRAN BRENNAN:

Please note that the term UL is used only for children in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades.  With this clarification, our focus in Metuchen needs to be on all students at all schools, to make sure they're provided with a challenging curriculum.  I am currently working with the curriculum committee right now to address this exact issue.  We are looking at not just how curriculum is developed but also how curriculum is implemented.  The district's new curriculum program, Understanding by Design (UbD), is an approach to designing instruction.  UbD is commonly referred to as a "backward design" approach where the teacher first determines the desired outcomes (skills to be achieved) and then works backwards from the final assessment (evidence of students understanding). Once the teacher knows what it is he/she wants the students to understand, he or she develops activities that will bring students actively to these understandings.  The teacher will plan activities that are differentiated for different ability levels.  Using "formative assessments" (spot assessments along the way), teachers check for student understanding and re-emphasize skills and/or concepts as needed as students participate in activities that are authentic and engaging.

 

During my tenure on the Board of Education we began programs to expand the concept of enrichment from just UL students, to all students in elementary school (ICE for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders, Ecco for 1st and 2nd graders).  In the high school we have expanded our art and music programs to reach a larger group of students who were not traditionally attracted to these programs.  We also added Honors Statistics, a computer repair course and virtual course offerings at the high school to provide additional opportunities for course selection. ROGATE science and social studies, which includes a research component, was added at the middle school.

 

 

EILEEN FROWENFELD:

I have been a member of the curriculum committee for three years and the chair for the past two years.  As a committee, we continually work to strengthen the curriculum at every level from kindergarten to graduation.  No one grade is more important than the next because each step builds on the previous one.  Every student needs to be challenged at the appropriate level and encouraged to achieve.  Ultimately, we want our graduates to attend college and since more than 90% of them do each year, each must be sufficiently prepared in order to succeed in college and beyond.  That goal necessitates a challenging curriculum at each level.  I have seen substantial changes in our curriculum over the course of my involvement in the schools as a parent and more recently as a board member.  It is an ever changing, ever evolving document.  While there is a process in place to review and revise each area of the curriculum on a five year cycle, many less formal changes are made in the interim.  The administration and faculty should be credited with implementing changes over the years and adapting to new instructional methods.  We are currently working to align our curriculum not only with the core content standards (as is routinely done) but also with the philosophy of Understanding by Design.  Professional development has included the implementation of differentiated instruction and assessment.  These changes are not only directed at the elementary grades but also the middle and high school grades as well.  Many of the discussions related to the Middles States Accreditation process at the high school have revolved around these instructional concepts.  The recent Superintendent's Forum focused on the "average classes."  The venue provided an opportunity for individual concerns to be articulated and discussed.  Each comment will prove valuable as we continue to evaluate and revise the delivery of instruction.

 



MARY 'TERRY' KOHL

Formative assessment and implementation of a portfolio on each student as to their learning styles and the best teaching methods needed to advance the students are at the top of my list.   Additionally, the district has entered into a consortium with 16 other districts with Grant Wiggins to develop "Understanding by Design".  This is the next level in curriculum development and we are fortunate to be included.  In addition to planning for change it will provide templates for curriculum.  The board recently approved funds for Supervisors and Mr. Pinero to attend the program "Supervisors as Agents of Change in Transforming Secondary Schools".  Mr. Pinero is also looking in to grading practices and the criteria for entrance into Honors classes.  We want the bar to be raised for both the average and the honors students.  The foundation of a strong curriculum is predicated on implementation of curriculum that is well designed.  Our ongoing five year curriculum development process in addition to the implementation of the Understanding by Design concepts is the first phase.  The second phase is the implementation of the newly developed curriculum and this is based on the district having and maintaining a strong supervisory structure. Our supervisors are outstanding and work diligently with the staff to ensure the implementation.

 

 

JoANN SABATINO FALKENSTEIN:

Core curriculum in early elementary education provides complete literacy: reading, writing, and comprehension; complete literacy for each child by the end of second grade is a good goal. I am in favor of a technology assessment, which could be done over the summer, to inform the public what technologies are available to children at every class level and where we fall short.

 

The two Superintendent's Forums have consistently raised the comment that the curriculum used in Metuchen isn't challenging to any of its students. We need curriculum of increased rigor, with particular attention to math and science. We need to increase practical experience and include lab periods in all applied science classes, not just in advanced classes.

 

We need to expect more from our students so they set their expectations for themselves at a higher level.


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