Handbook of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction
We believe in partnering with our parents and families in order to ensure our students’ success. Please take a moment to download or browse through the Instructional Handbook for Parents. It is designed to answer any question that a parent may have about their child’s education at Hawthorn. If there is something that you cannot find in the book, please send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). We revise this handbook on a yearly basis and look forward to incorporating your feedback. Please refer to the Handbook for an Assessment map for this school year.
– Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction
CURRICULUM OVERSIGHT at HAWTHORN
FIRST Class Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum (GVC)
What is a curriculum?
In District 73, curriculum is defined as “the course to be run.” In other words, not only what standards students are expected to master, but how those standards are organized into units of instruction, what assessments will measure those standards, what lessons teachers implement and what materials teachers will have at their disposal in order to support students’ understanding.
Educational research has been clear that the higher the degree of involvement from teachers in the development of curriculum, the better the results for students. Since a “curriculum” is essentially a map of where students should go and how they should get there, teachers are critical in ensuring that our “maps” clearly identify the destination or outcomes for students, are organized with the needs of our students and community in mind, and that they are aligned from grade to grade.
What is the meaning of a Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum (GVC)?
The importance of guaranteeing all students the opportunity to learn the same content in every course across the organization is critical for raising student achievement and improving growth. Viability of the curriculum refers to adequate time available to teach the outlined content within a given course. Designing a GVC for a school district is a foundational piece in ensuring high levels of growth and achievement for all students.
For more information on GVC:
So, how do teachers at Hawthorn know what to teach and how to teach it? How is curriculum developed?
The process for answering this question is research-based and has been consistent for over 10 years in District 73. Teams of teachers and administrators collaborate on the design and evaluation of units of instruction (a way to organize what we want students to know, understand and be able to do) and scope and sequence documentation (the order in which we want students to learn content) across the district in order to achieve the best achievement results for our diverse community of learners.
Our process for developing and maintaining our curriculum at Hawthorn can be described as F.I.R.S.T. class:
F = Framework
Hawthorn has utilized the Understanding by Design (UbD) framework for designing units of instruction since 2003. This method focuses on “keeping the end in mind,” or knowing what we want students to know, understand and be able to do first, before designing learning experiences for students. Just like planning any goal in life if one doesn’t know the destination, the trip is impossible to plan. UbD incorporates all elements of curriculum design into it’s 3 stages which are described below.
More information on the UbD philosophy can be found here:
I = Instructional Units
Utilizing the UbD framework, Curriculum Leadership Teams (CLT’s) made of teachers, support staff and administrators work together to design units of instruction where the outcomes (what we want all students to know, understand and be able to do) for all students are common and clear, summative assessments are common, rigorous and authentic*, and standards, knowledge, skills, and academic vocabulary are identified and common for all students.
* Authentic assessments are those which measure knowledge, skills and understandings which are worthwhile, significant and meaningful and which require students to demonstrate understanding, not rote memorization.
Our Instructional Units for all courses are broken out by the three stages of UbD:
Instructional Units: Stage 1 – Desired Outcomes (Common Across the District)
Common Outcomes for all units of instruction include:
* Big Ideas – The concept which each unit is organized around (Ex: Relationships)
* Enduring Understandings – understandings which are essential for students to master in order to transfer new skills from this unit to other areas of study (Ex: Relationships are dynamic and can change)
* Essential Questions – questions which lead to deeper understanding for students (Ex: How are my views about relationships shaped by my life experiences?)
* Standards Assessed – standards which will be formally assessed in each unit or standards which are a focus for the unit. (Ex: RL. 4.3 Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text [e.g. a character’s thoughts, words, or actions])
* Standards Addressed – standards which will be informally assessed in each unit and which would be necessary as pre-requisite skills for learning the priority standards (Ex: RL 4.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama or poem from details in the text; summarize the text)
* Knowledge & Skills – what students should know, understand and be able to do after each unit (Ex: Compare and contrast the relationships of two sets of characters in two different texts)
* Key Academic Vocabulary – the key words which will support student understanding in this unit (Ex: Defend, Describe, Equity)
(Examples taken from Hawthorn Grade 4 ELA unit)
Instructional Units; Stage 2 – Assessment (Common Summative Assessments Across the District)
Our summative assessments* are performance based and are designed in a way that students should be able to demonstrate application and transfer of the unit understandings to new situations or scenarios. Formative assessments** are given at a classroom level and are designed by teams in a building.
* Summative assessments – These assessments are given at the end of a unit of instruction and are intended to be a measure OF learning and understanding.
** Formative assessments – These assessments are given throughout the unit of instruction. They are intended to give teachers information on how students are progressing toward mastery and support teachers in adjusting instruction to meet the changing needs of students throughout the course of a unit.
Instructional Units: Stage 3 – Learning Experiences (Personalized Learning)
Hawthorn believes in personalized learning and approaching instruction in a way that differentiates for each student’s strengths and challenges. In designing the learning plan, each teacher designs a unique set of experiences which will support their specific class’s needs. This may look like, different lesson plans, different centers, different spelling or vocabulary assessments, different homework. There are many different ways to support student understanding. Not all students learn in the same way or at the same rate. There are some who come to us with certain challenges, or strengths which need to be addressed within our framework. Personalized learning in Stage 3 allows for that kind of differentiation.
R = Review Materials
Hawthorn believes its most valuable resources are our students, teachers and families. We invest in those resources through professional development opportunities, and parent and community outreach and communication.
We also invest in materials. Textbooks, workbooks, digital and online materials are a critical part of supporting our teachers and students as they work through our units of instruction. Teachers and teams have opportunities to request materials, pilot materials, participate in professional development on materials, complete surveys and collaborate to determine the best materials to support our students. Key components which are evaluated during a large scale pilot of potential new materials include:
1. Alignment to the standards for the content area (Ex: CCSS, NGSS, SEL, C3, etc.)
2. Alignment to our units of instruction (Ex: Can our big concepts be supported through these
3. Supplemental support for our students with special needs or who speak multiple languages (Ex:
Can the level of texts be adapted down or up depending on the reading level of students?) 4. Ease of use for teachers and flexibility in terms of re-ordering content
5. Online resources for students and families (Ex: Parent letters, web resources)
Various methods for piloting materials have been employed based on the financial implications, products being piloted and feedback from teachers on the piloting process. Those methods have included:
1. Representative teachers from each building and grade piloting multiple programs 2. Whole School Pilots of one program
3. One team per building piloting multiple programs
4. District wide grade level pilots of one program
S = Select, Support and Evaluate Materials
For large scale purchases of materials or programs, selection is made with input from teachers who participated in the pilot and administrators who observed the materials in use. After any program is purchased, every teacher who received materials is asked to complete a survey after purchase. The survey data are reviewed on an annual basis to determine whether materials will be renewed or repurchased.
Professional Development on large scale materials adoptions is offered to all teachers receiving the materials and those who will be supporting students using them. Follow up professional development is offered throughout the first year of implementation and on an as- needed basis. Hawthorn has two full-release instructional coaches who are also available to support with needs related to any of our materials.
Because our teachers are responsible to differentiate instruction for our diverse community of learners, each teacher and team also has the ability to request specific materials in order to address their particular students’ needs. Those requests are evaluated by building and district administration and are reviewed through teacher surveys, usage data and achievement data when they are requested for renewal.
T = Teams implement curriculum and evaluate its effectiveness
Through Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) in each building and through our CLTs, teams of teachers continuously discuss and refine our curriculum to ensure that our students participate in the the most effective and rigorous curriculum.
Data are the primary indicators of the effectiveness of our curriculum. Our teams look at data from our state assessments (PARCC/ACCESS for ELLs), our normed assessments (NWEA/ AIMSweb, FASTbridge), our benchmark assessments (F &P – English reading benchmark data
and ENIL – Spanish reading benchmark data) and our common summative performance assessments. They look at actual student work, perception data from our students and parents and student goal setting data. We break out the data by demographic groups and programming to ensure that all students are receiving a rigorous learning experience.
Hawthorn designs our FIRST class guaranteed and viable curriculum to be focused on the needs of the whole-child with support for academic and social emotional learning. Hawthorn designs our curriculum to be personalized for the needs of our diverse community and to be one that prepares them for their future. Most of all, Hawthorn designs our curriculum to be aligned with our community’s strategic plan and our long range goals. Through data analysis, adjustments are made throughout the school year and summer as needed, and each fall our most up-to-date units of instruction (Stages 1 & 2) are posted online for our parents and community to reference throughout the year.
The Hawthorn District 73 mission of fine arts instruction is to develop a well-rounded program that emphasizes the importance of the arts and integrates them—music, art, drama, and dance—with other content areas. The art teachers worked together in collaboration with our Art and Music Curriculum Leaders, Mr. Bill Fredricksen and Mrs. Katie Waggoner, in order to develop and refine these units of instruction which are aligned with national standards in these areas.
The Hawthorn District 73 mission of world language instruction is to provide many of our children the opportunity to acquire the knowledge, skills, and cultural appreciation associated with learning a second language. Furthermore, it should prepare students for the further study of other languages and related disciplines. Our Spanish teachers worked in collaboration to develop and refine these units of instruction. They articulate regularly with our high school districts in order to ensure that our curriculum is rigorous and prepares our students for further study in the Spanish language.
World Language This Year and Beyond
Two programs address the State’s foreign language standards. The first is our K-5 Dual Language program located at the Hawthorn School of Dual Language. This is a program of choice and includes three or four classes of students at each grade level. Each class includes approximately twenty-four students, half being native English speakers and the other half being native Spanish speakers. Each year, three or four more kindergarten classes are added. Dual language students, upon entering middle school, are eligible for an advanced Spanish and cultures class in sixth through eighth grades.
Another program addressing the foreign language standards is the middle schools’ foreign language program for seventh and eighth graders. Spanish is offered to a select group of students. Criteria to enter the program include high academic achievement, test scores, and teacher recommendation. The curriculum is rigorous and covers the level 1 high school foreign language program over two years.
Students successfully completing the program and meeting criteria on a high school placement test can qualify for level 2 foreign language placement as freshmen. All students in kindergarten through 5th grade take part in a Spanish exploratory program. The program allows students to explore the Spanish language one day per week.
Language Arts Curriculum
The Hawthorn District 73 mission of language arts instruction is to develop a program of study that is integral to everything we do, every activity we undertake, every relationship we enter into, and every learning action in which we engage. The following units of instruction have a foundation in the New Illinois Standards for Learning which can be found here: http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/ Each grade has between 4-6 units of instruction per year. Please note that the Kindergarten units include both Language Arts and Social Studies standards.
Hawthorn teachers are encouraged to utilize a variety of assessments, materials and interventions in order to support instruction in Mathematics. Some of these include: My Math by McGraw Hill and Glencoe Math.
Physical Development and Health Curriculum
The Hawthorn District 73 mission of physical development and health instruction is to develop a program of study which teaches students to understand and appreciate basic physical fitness. Essential Learning Standards, Enduring Understandings, and educational goals for all students are based upon and aligned with the Illinois State Standards so that all students are able to live emotionally, nutritionally, and physically healthy lives. These Essential Learning Standards for physical education and health are further expanded through the specialized programs, activities, and curriculum maps at each grade level and by every teacher.
The Hawthorn District 73 mission of science instruction is to provide all children the opportunity to study science in a manner that will allow them to observe, analyze, construct models, ask questions, combine logic with imagination, and make rational systematic predictions and explanations to better understand the natural world. The aim of science education is to develop in learners a rich and full understanding of the inquiry process; the key concepts and principles of life sciences, physical science, and earth and space sciences; and issues of science, technology, and society in historical and contemporary contexts. We are working to incorporate Engineering, Math and Technology into our Science curriculum in order to better address the Next Generation Science Standards, which have been recently adopted by the state of Illinois and can be found here: http://www.
- Science Grade K
- Science Grade 1
- Science Grade 2
- Science Grade 3
- Science Grade 4
- Science Grade 5
- Science Grade 6
- Science Grade 7
- Science Grade 8
Hawthorn teachers are encouraged to utilize a variety of assessments, materials and interventions in order to support instruction in Science. Some of these include: Interactive Science by Pearson and iScience by McGraw Hill.
Social Studies Curriculum
The Hawthorn District 73 mission of social studies instruction is to provide every child the opportunity to acquire knowledge, skills, and the beliefs and values needed for competent participation in social, political, and economic life. Furthermore it should prepare students for the further study of social studies and related disciplines.
Other Documents & Resources
Homework By Design – A brochure compiled to review and clarify the purposes, amount, effectiveness, and grading of homework. Using research and information gathered over the years, the homework plan is intended to address the academic needs of our students.Teachers will strive to make each homework assignment meaningful.
RTI at Hawthorn – A brochure compiled to explain the purpose and process of RtI or Response to Intervention at Hawthorn.
Literacy at Hawthorn – A brochure designed in collaboration with our Hawthorn Reading Specialists to give parents some helpful hints and information to help them in supporting their child’s literacy goals at home.