Curriculum Workshop highlights: ELA pilot, winter MAP data and more

The District 58 Board of Education held a Curriculum Workshop on Monday, Feb. 27, 2017.  View the agenda and presentation links. Highlights from the meeting include:

English-Language Arts Committee selects publishers to pilot this spring
As part of District 58’s continuous effort to enhance learning, the English-Language Arts (ELA) Committee will pilot potential ELA resources in several K-8 classrooms this spring. These new resources will aim to help students master the Illinois Learning Standards.

The ELA pilot will take place in the classrooms of District 58 teachers who serve on the ELA Committee, along with the classrooms of their grade level teaching partners. At least one grade level at every District 58 school will participate in the pilot. The ELA pilot begins Monday, March 6 for elementary (K-6) students and on Monday, April 3 for middle school (7-8) students. District 58 schools are sending letters home to parents whose child will participate in the ELA pilot.

District 58 has selected the following resources to pilot:

  • Grades K-5: Benchmark Advance and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys
  • Grade 6: Benchmark Advance, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Collections, and McGraw Hill Study Sync
  • Grades 7-8: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Collections and McGraw Hill Study Sync

The pilot resources will soon be on display at the District’s Administrative Service Center and at the Downers Grove Public Library for the community’s review.

The ELA Committee hopes to make a final decision on all new ELA resources (K-8) by October 2017, with full ELA curriculum implementation by fall 2018.

View the Curriculum Workshop’s ELA Committee Update presentation.
View the related ELA Committee presentation from the Feb. 13 Board meeting.

District shows high achievement on winter MAP assessment
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Matt Rich reviewed the District’s proficiency and growth on the winter Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP, assessment.

For the first time ever, District 58’s winter median Reading MAP scores exceeded the 70th percentile at every grade level. The national median percentile is 50. Median scores above the 70th percentile indicate that not only are many District 58 students exceeding national norms, more than half of all students in District 58 are scoring above the 70th percentile nationally.

Also, for the first time ever, District 58’s winter median Math MAP scores reached the 60th percentile or higher at every grade level, with more than half of grade levels also exceeding the 70th percentile.

“This achievement is really a neat celebration of the hard work and progress our students and staff have accomplished,” said Dr. Rich.

Learn more about the District’s winter MAP assessment data.

Board appoints Justin Sisul to assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction position
The Board approved the appointment of Justin Sisul as the District’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, effective July 1, 2017. Sisul currently serves as the principal of Pierce Downer School.

“We interviewed several impressive candidates for this position, yet Mr. Sisul clearly stood out as the most qualified,” said Superintendent Dr. Kari Cremascoli. “Throughout the process, interview teams shared that they were especially impressed by Mr. Sisul’s tenacious support for student learning and the professional growth of teachers, his knowledge of curriculum development, his collaborative leadership style, his clear and articulate communication style, and his determination to always do what is best for students. Mr. Sisul brings to his new role a wealth of knowledge, experience, passion and commitment to educational excellence, and I am confident that he will continue to serve District 58 with distinction as assistant superintendent.”

Learn more about the Board’s appointment of Justin Sisul to the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction position.

Middle school science finds success with Next Generation Science Standards
Herrick Eighth Grade Science Teacher Jill Henry presented on the District’s middle school science curriculum. Both Herrick and O’Neill middle schools introduced the State’s new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into their science classrooms last school year. These new standards, when put into practice, teach students real-world science applications and encourage them to analyze and explain natural phenomena.

“We gain much more depth in scientific literacy when we motivate students to think like actual scientists,” Henry said.

For example, seventh graders recently developed 3D models that show photosynthesis. This real-life application gave students a deeper, more visual understanding of the photosynthesis process.

The District’s middle school science teachers recently received in-district and out-of-district professional development on NGSS. Going forward, middle school science teachers will continue grade-level and district-level collaborations, receive additional NGSS training and continue to participate on the District Science Collaborative, a consortium of 26 Illinois school districts that work together to prepare NGSS curriculum.

View the Middle School Science Update presentation.

Grove Children’s Preschool enhances its social-emotional learning curriculum
Preschool Teacher Alecia Probst and District Social Worker Maggie Michels gave the Board an update on Grove Children’s Preschool’s social-emotional learning curriculum.

For the past two years, the preschool has used the Second Step Curriculum to teach students age-appropriate social-emotional skills, such as how to listen, show respect and share feelings. Second Step provides teachers with a clear scope and sequence for instructing these skills and building the students’ social-emotional vocabulary.

“Grove Children’s Preschool has always provided a strong social-emotional component to our curriculum, but using the Second Step Curriculum has helped us to consistently cover the same concepts and show the same visuals to all preschoolers across all classrooms,” Probst said.

View the Preschool Social-Emotional Learning presentation.

LRC teachers share positive LRC curriculum updates
Learning Resource Center (LRC) Teachers Gwen Box, Rebekah Sorensen and Tasha Squires updated the Board on the District’s LRC curriculum.

Squires shared that the LRC team has met with administrators monthly to collaboratively review the LRC curriculum. They developed a draft LRC curriculum blueprint with common instructional objectives for each grade level to ensure instructional continuity across all schools. For example, every preschooler has 20 minutes of weekly LRC time, and every kindergarten-through-sixth grade student has a 30-minute weekly LRC lesson, plus a 15-minute weekly book checkout time with the LRC and classroom teachers. Finally, middle school LRC teachers teach and co-teach regular LRC lessons to seventh and eighth graders.

LRC teachers also incorporated the new Illinois Standards-Aligned Instruction for Libraries, or I-SAIL, into their instruction. These standards align with the Common Core State Standards and other best practices for school LRC teachers.

LRC teachers and District administrators collaboratively created a draft Roles and Responsibilities guide. When finalized, this guide will better define the LRC teacher role and help ensure the job description is consistent among all schools.

View the LRC Curriculum Update presentation.

Physical Education instruction encourages increased physical activity
District 58’s physical education (PE) teachers shared PE curriculum updates with the Board. PE teachers use Fitness Gram to assess student fitness, including strength, flexibility and aerobic capacity. New this year, the State requires school districts to report Fitness Gram assessment results. District 58 will not share any student names; rather, the reports will include the numbers of students who met, exceeded and did not meet fitness expectations.

In alignment with the Common Core State Standards, PE teachers have increased movement skills, physical fitness and team-building skills in their instruction. This enhanced instruction aims to increase each student’s daily physical activity and to motivate them to enjoy exercise. To reach all students, the District also provides adapted PE programs for learners with disabilities.

View the Physical Education update presentation.

District 58 Board of Education members are: John Cooper, president; Doug Purcell, vice president; Roberta Diehl; Christopher Heppner; Sallie Lupescu; John Miller; and Elizabeth Sigale, with Dr. Kari Cremascoli, superintendent; and Pam Osika, board secretary.