Eye of the Tiger

Teachers collaborate to align curriculum

Jessica+Fork+collaborated+with+fellow+psychology+teacher+Mark+Andreatta+to+develop+a+curriculum+and+while+their+classes+don%27t+sync+up+perfectly%2C+the+same+content+is+covered.
Jessica Fork collaborated with fellow psychology teacher Mark Andreatta to develop a curriculum and while their classes don't sync up perfectly, the same content is covered.

Jessica Fork collaborated with fellow psychology teacher Mark Andreatta to develop a curriculum and while their classes don't sync up perfectly, the same content is covered.

(NICOLE KHUDYAKOV / EYE OF THE TIGER)

(NICOLE KHUDYAKOV / EYE OF THE TIGER)

Jessica Fork collaborated with fellow psychology teacher Mark Andreatta to develop a curriculum and while their classes don't sync up perfectly, the same content is covered.

NICOLE KHUDYAKOV

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As part of the RJUHSD’s general goal to ensure equity in student achievement and academic performance, the district has taken steps standardize and more closely unifying class curriculum through department and district meetings, professional learning teams (PLTs), and course standards.

To better achieve this goal, teachers who teach the same courses on campus – like CP English 9 to CP English 9 – will hold meetings to plan out curriculum goals.

This helps teachers ensure students are still getting the same general education in each class.

AP courses, such as AP Psychology and AP Environmental Science, already experience a mass crossover in material due to AP course guidelines which call for specific course content.

AP Psychology teachers Jessica Fork and Mark Andreatta, after receiving new textbooks last year, collaborated in redeveloping their curriculum; they drew from the same textbook, as well as the same mandatory topics and class standards presented in the AP Course Study Guide, and other similar resources.

“We’re not necessarily on the same page on the same day, but in terms of the content we’re covering – it’s the same,” Andreatta said.

Outside of collaborating for content, Andreatta and Fork are able to take a different, more varied approach for tests and projects.

While tests must be chosen from the same database of test questions, there is room to customize according to what topic each teacher feels is necessary, more relevant for their students, and covered more fully in their class.

Additionally, Fork and Andreatta present their material individually, according to their personal teaching styles; they have room to modify their presentations according to their respective class.

“I think having uniformity is a good thing and I understand the uniformity part of just making sure we’re driving the curriculum the same way,” Fork said. “But I think having a freedom of expression is still a good piece as well.”

Unlike AP Psychology, IM2 is currently facing great complications and changes in curriculum, which require great communication.

A recent overhaul in IM2 curriculum means IM2 teachers must meet for two hours every Monday to plan out the following week and create new tests, homework, and lessons plans to keep up with this year’s curriculum changes.

This has had the unifying effect of teachers collaborating with one another heavily in order to figure out the best way to present their new, shared curriculum to the students.

According to IM2 teacher Doug Ash, nobody expected the work that would be required to cover this “wholesale change,” but the unified curriculum means teachers communicate and share progress and ideas constantly with one another.

“We email continuously throughout the week,” Ash said. “Our team is pretty lock-step. Obviously, we all have our different personalities. We all have our different styles of doing things but in terms of the delivery of the content I don’t think it’s significantly different.”

According to Ash, the change in curriculum has left him with little room to customize his lesson plans according to his prior experience teaching students, so he must go through each lesson on a first trial basis.

“It takes a year, maybe more to really feel comfortable with curriculum because you’re constantly making small changes,” Ash said.

Fellow IM2 teacher Sandra Schmatjen also attends the Monday meetings. According to her, discussion centers around deciding the learning targets for students and going over student work to better understand the level of progress they are making. Teachers must stay in sync in order to best participate in learning how the new material affects students.

“We do try and talk about using the same vocabulary for each lesson and teaching the procedures the same or teach the same methods,” Schmatjen said.

RHS’ English department typically is able to match up their curriculums with no pacing issues, according to English 12 teacher Stuart Smith, who finds it simple to confer with colleagues and keep a “constant dialogue” with members of his PLT in order to keep up with the material and the rate at which the class is meant to move. He believes unity in curriculums is beneficial for students and teachers alike.

“It’s not a search for conformity,” Smith said. “It’s a search for professionalism and consistency.”

However, for Smith, RHS could be more unified if they had an English curriculum with consistent goals that ranged from grade to grade, similar to the Integrated Math system, which ranges from IM1 To IM3 and covers lessons cohesively due to the way it’s linked.

“We could get further with that. It’s really difficult, because you have to look at each curriculum,” Smith said. “We have to figure out what the starting point is, what the spine of it is, if you will, from beginning to end.”

About the Writer
NICOLE KHUDYAKOV, FEATURES EDITOR

I’m currently sixteen and a junior at RHS. This is my second year as part of the staff at Eye of the Tiger, and each new year allows me to grow as both a person and a journalist. I enjoy writing (more than just articles) and reading just about anything I come across.

[email protected]

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