This past week our district instructional coaches had a week to work with curriculum tools and data analysis tools that we will be showing our teachers during the back to school trainings and that we will be using throughout the coming school year.  They are items that will be new to the teachers, but will be an incredible assest as they plan their instruction.

At my school there will be a LOT more new things than just curriculum planning tools. But, with the exception of adding an assistant principal, our administration is already in place.  That one fact is going to be incredibly beneficial as we move forward with these changes.

The first, and most important change is that all of our core classes will be taught with project based instruction as the primary method of delivery. Additionally, oh by the way,  we will be going 1:1 with iPads. To say that this combination is freaking a few teachers out is an understatement.

The next item of change is that we will be using a new curriculum management system. From a teacher standpoint these changes are incredibly stressful, and I understand that. But from an instructional coach standpoint I see these changes as, not only, necessary but also beneficial, as we plan instruction.

And so, as the instructional coaches met, we brainstormed how planning will look on each of our campuses.  The curriculum management system that we will be using is called CSCOPE and we will be using 3 main parts of the system: The Instructional Focus Document (IFD) and Year at a Glance (YAG), during the first year, and the Vertical Alignment Document during the second year.

The IFD is a teacher’s dream because it contains a very thorough analysis of each of the curriculum units. Each unit, for example, has a lengthy Rationale for teaching the unit, links to Instructional Resources, Misconceptions or Underdeveloped Concepts that students may have within the unit, Academic Vocabulary, English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS), and of course a Unit Assessment.

With the IFD in hand, and alongside a project planning document, the PBL units will almost take care of themselves. The other piece of the PBL puzzle, grouping, was (almost) taken care of with our final training on the use of a data management system we started using this past year. It is called Lead4ward.

We took a “data driven decisions” angle of looking at our data and setting up Quintiles (I know, gag me – as a Math/Stats major seeing quartiles used to make me barf and now we have to up the ante.) for student grouping and analysis.  Once we have looked at all of the data for our students; our students by grade level; and our students by teacher, we will really be able to look at our Power Standards.  And, in concert with CSCOPE, our teachers will be able to pinpoint their daily lesson plans for helping all of our students.

We will be having our students grouped based upon their quintile. All of our lowest two quintiles will have daily interventions. Our next two quintiles will have 2 days a week of interventions. And, on Monday’s our highest quintile students will have a “check in” for understanding. These groupings, of course, will be fluid and will be shifted based upon formative and summative assessments, screenings, and the teacher’s knowledge of their students.

All of this planning was conducted during the first week of our teacher’s vacation and the last week of the IC’s contracted time.  Therefore we were able to interact with principals but not the teachers who we will be planning with in August.  Over the next few weeks I will be fine tuning the planning and I will be contacting select teachers (who will actually check email or texts and respond) as we move forward.

What a difference a year makes. A year ago I didn’t know our teachers; the principal was leaving and his replacement hadn’t been hired; and 2 of the 3 assistant principals weren’t hired. It was a pretty miserable summer for me and there wasn’t any planning for the school year. I’m in a good place now. Bring on the school year!

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