It isn’t very often that an entire district’s faculty has an opportunity to see the vertical alignment of standards that impact every area of instruction. Curriculum development within districts is generally saved for the summer, and at that time teachers work within departments to map out their curriculum alignment for the upcoming school years. Very seldom do we have the opportunity to see the vertical alignment of the standards and how they apply to every grade level, let alone across several content areas.
On January 8, 2014 the K-12 faculty at Belfast Central School worked together to unpack the Common Core Writing Standards. Teachers worked within their own grade level to identify specific skills within the grade specific CCSS in Writing. These teachers served as the content specialists for each grade level and then shared that information with the faculty. As the teachers began sharing, the vertical alignment was revealed, without every teacher having to read nearly 100 pages of information on their own.
Writing instruction impacts every grade level as well as every content area, and not every teacher may hold the same expectations and level of rigor for their students writing. By taking advantage of our time together as an entire district we were able to share the expectations for every aspect of writing instruction in a short amount of time, and time is of the essence. Many teachers noted that they appreciated the ability to see the expectations of performance at each grade level and will continue to hold those same expectations across grade levels and content areas.
By: Anne Cater, CA BOCES Professional Development