Curriculum & Instruction

SEALY INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT
Curriculum & Instruction

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CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION IN SEALY I.S.D.

In Sealy ISD our Mission is a commitment to ensuring high levels of learning for ALL. As such, we have teachers and leaders dedicated to continuously improving the quality of students' learning experiences. We ensure that each student has access to a guaranteed and viable curriculum that meets the academic, social, and emotional needs of all. 

We rely on state standards, research-based practices, and formative data to drive our lesson planning processes. We regularly invest in the development of our instructional strategies to provide authentic learning opportunities to students so that each child is challenged and supported. 
  

A GUARANTEED AND VIABLE CURRICULUM (GVC)

In researching what works in schools, Robert Marzano (2003) notes there are five school-level factors which promote student achievement. Paramount to all, Marzano concluded that a guaranteed and viable curriculum is the most essential school-level factor in determining overall student achievement.

If we truly have a “GVC”, Robert Marzano (2003), it means that in our schools:

  • No matter who teaches a given course or grade level, we guarantee that topics identified in the curriculum will be covered in every class.
  • The content that teachers are expected to address can be covered in the time available.
  • Every student, in every class, every day, will be taught the same essential knowledge and skills (TEKS).

Sealy ISD currently utilizes a curriculum with the purpose to provide a common language, structure and process for curriculum development. The curriculum model is designed to align the written, taught and tested curriculum and is inclusive of research and best practices mentioned in the work of Fullan, Wiggins, Erickson, Guskey, Marzano, Schmoker, Reeves, Stiggins, and others. Each year the documents will continue to be aligned to the TEKS utilizing the continuous improvement process of Deming (Plan-Do-Study-Act).

The curriculum components are based on best practice models from top researchers. Lessons are all aligned with the TEKS and our intent is for each lesson to meet the highest standards of rigor, relevance and student engagement.

At the heart of our curriculum process is a guaranteed and viable curriculum (GVC) where students have the opportunity to learn when they study a curriculum that clearly articulates required standards of achievement and successfully measures mastery learning along the way.

VERTICAL ALIGNMENT DOCUMENTS

The Vertical Alignment Documents (also known as scaffolds) present clearly articulated and aligned standards among grade levels using the TEKS statements and student expectations. According to Marzano's framework, curriculum is guaranteed if districts give clear guidance to teachers regarding the content to be addressed in specific courses and at specific grade levels.

Marzano (2003) is a strong advocate of a conceptually-organized curriculum that is clearly articulated within periods of time or across grade levels. He stresses that effective curriculum should emphasize key spiraling components. These components represent the major competencies, ideas, and skills that students are expected to revisit within and across grade levels with growing levels of competence, proficiency, and depth of understanding.

In addition, the specificity of the Vertical Alignment Documents provides a common language and delineation of skills which allows building principals to meet their responsibility of ensuring that the curriculum is being implemented accurately and consistently in every classroom.

The specificity of Vertical Alignment Documents also gives educators a tangible guide for selecting and reliably evaluating programs, textbooks, and instructional materials in terms of how effectively they meet curriculum objectives.
 

TEXTBOOKS

Most textbooks are not organized in a way that is aligned to the progression of TEKS.  In addition, they are not designed to emphasize key spiraling components. They present concepts by chapters, or in isolation, and often never revisit vital concepts. Textbooks may and should be used by teachers whenever they think their textbook may present concepts in a more effective way than a particular lesson. In addition, if a teacher determines students may not have a concept mastered as well as they would like, the teacher can - and should - use their textbooks to enhance or support their lessons.

However, effective curriculum development helps educators avoid what Tomlinson and McTighe (2006) call “the twin problems” of textbook coverage and activity-oriented teaching with no clear priorities or purpose. They add that this design is directly tied to the following ideas:

  • All learners benefit from clear priorities and purposes.
  • Struggling learners require focus on truly essential knowledge to move forward.
  • Advanced learners need challenge predicated on essential discipline knowledge in order to develop content expertise.

YEAR AT A GLANCE

The Year at a Glance is designed to present a snapshot of the entire year’s instructional plan. The Year at a Glance is a map and pacing guide for units of study. It makes the curriculum viable by ensuring that the teacher has adequate instructional time to present the required content.

Curriculum mapping is a process for documenting the plan for curriculum delivery over a specified period of time. To gain insight into gaps, absences, and repetitions in a school or district's K-12 curriculum, it is critical to create quality maps. The Year at a Glance, as a curriculum map, provides a springboard for teachers and administrators to focus discussion on a comparison between what is planned and what is really occurring in individual classrooms.

The intent of our curriculum and instruction for Sealy ISD. is that we should be able to use the Vertical Alignment Documents, the Year at a Glance, and the Instructional Focus Tools to foster reflective practice and collegial, data-driven dialogue around curriculum.

INSTRUCTIONAL FOCUS TOOLS

Instructional Focus Tools (Unit Plans) are used to group the specified standards from the Vertical Alignment Documents and the Year at a Glance into a logical sequence for instruction. The standards should not be taught in isolation; there are logical ways to bundle them to maximize student learning.

Comparable to the more tradition “teacher lesson plans”, these documents present the standards which are directly taught in each block of instruction, the academic language of instruction, key understandings, guiding questions, and possible student misconceptions as well as performance indicators to ensure that the standards are attained at the required level of rigor.

Marzano and others emphasize that many state and district curricula are overloaded with too many standards, forcing teachers to teach content for coverage of standards rather than teaching content for depth of understanding. Japanese teachers emphasize depth versus superficial coverage; they don’t “cover” a variety of discrete skills. In fact, nations with higher test scores use teaching and learning strategies that promote understanding rather than “coverage” and rote learning.

SUMMARY OF CURRICULUM

The Vertical Alignment, Year at a Glance, and Instructional Focus Tools comprise most of our curriculum documents. These documents are the foundation for all instructional planning.  We also utilize resources from Lead4ward.com to supplement our curriculum planning and ensure a GVC.

Sealy ISD’s guaranteed and viable curriculum is the foundation of our instructional program. The Vertical Alignment Document reflects a clearly articulated curriculum which should renew teachers’ understanding of the depth and breadth required by the TEKS. Teachers use the Instructional Focus Tools to anchor and plan instruction.  The Instructional Focus Tool is the bridge from curriculum to instruction. These curriculum documents offer teachers a common place from which to differentiate and accommodate. Furthermore, a process of continuous improvement is facilitated when administrators and teachers are able to hold to the specific content standards of what has actually happened in the classroom, collaborate in revisiting the Year at a Glance based on these data, and make instructional revisions accordingly.

 

Contact Us

Dr. Chris Summers
Assistant Superintendent
csummers@sealyisd.com

Emily Eschenburg
ELAR and ESL/Bilingual  Instructional Coordinator
eeschenburg@sealyisd.com

Melanie Zeller
Math Instructional Coordinator
mzeller@sealyisd.com

Casey Schindler
Gifted & Talented Coordinator
cschindler@sealyisd.com
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