Thursday, May 28, 2015

Curriculum Changes-Mastery of Learning

By Mark Heintz


The Elk Grove freshmen human geography team added a document based question curriculum to achieve higher level thinking skills.  Over the last month of school, the team has been testing new ideas through student-centered document based instruction in hopes to get a great understanding of how to move forward next year.  The concepts and skills are driving a focus for next year in human geography centered around four main categories.


Content
Writing
Interpreting Texts
Interpreting Charts, Maps, Graphs
·        See each unit plan.
·        Write main ideas to examine and convey complex ideas.
·        Through writing, provide examples to support main ideas.
·        Through writing, analyze details. 
·   State the main idea from texts.
·   Draw evidence from texts to support main ideas.
·   State the main idea of charts, maps, and graphs.
·   Provide evidence from charts, maps or graphs to support the main idea.
One summative multiple choice test per unit.







One summative writing per unit.  Each unit the skills will build upon each other.  The grade will reflect the students overall writing ability at the end of the semester.


One summative interpreting portion per unit as measured by providing the main idea and supporting details for the number of documents listed.  The overall category grade will be reflective of the student’s ability at the end of the semester.
One summative interpreting portion per unit as measured by a multiple-choice test.  The test will cover charts, maps and graphs.  The overall category grade will be reflective of the student’s ability at the end of the semester.
30% of the overall grade
30% of the overall grade
20% of the overall grade
20% of the overall grade




The team came to agreements that the semester grade would reflect student's current ability levels.  From the "testing" period, came a greater understanding of what students were capable of and what we as teachers could do to improve the student's mastery.  Over the semester, the skills would advance, requiring higher level thought processes.  Additionally as the year progresses, increasingly complex passages will be used as their abilities hopefully improve.

The work that we are doing is has been so rejuvenating for me as a teacher as we move towards a place where students are rewarded for mastering content and skills over time.  The students' learning is centered around interpreting texts, charts, maps, and graphs to learn content.  And then writing to express their understanding of content.  It is very powerful and the impact in the classroom leaves students tired from thinking so much.  

Another change is the instruction.  Since the team's focus is centered around a blend of skills and content, the instruction must mirror that.  That subject is for another post.

  

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