Teachers Train on Curriculum Development

Social Studies curriculum strategist Leticia Hernandez posts comments and suggestions on the “parking lot” area of curriculum development training. Photo: LFCISD

by Ronnie Zamora/LFCISD

More than 30 teachers from different content areas and different grade levels gathered for training this week to undertake a key curriculum rewriting project.

The teachers were chosen by the district’s curriculum strategists to engage in discussions on curriculum, lesson planning, and student engagement. They represented English, Reading, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies from elementary, middle and high schools.

Facilitating the training was Holly Kaptain from Curriculum Management Solutions Inc. (CMSi), which has been auditing and evaluating the design and delivery of curriculum for nearly 40 years. CMSi conducts audits independently and through the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA).

Their objective was to discuss the role and purposes of curriculum, define characteristics for effective instruction and successful learning, personal philosophies of education, and comparing and contrasting an instructional model with a framework for strategies.

“We are always looking for ideas to improve our practices,” said Valarie Londrie, Executive Director for Academics. “We want to be able to provide better support and professional learning opportunities for our teachers.”

The teachers underwent the first two models of curriculum development. Some teachers trained for two days and some trained for three days.

“Our teachers are doing a lot of things really well,” Londrie said. “But our teachers also work really really hard. We have to find ways to work smarter. We need to streamline our processes and learn from others, and take the best that we can find out there and then make that our own.”

After attending conferences, district administrators realized that Los Fresnos CISD was in line for a total curriculum review.

“We began to evaluate some of our practices,” Londrie said. “Are we doing this the smartest way? What are the best practices? We know the way to improvement for our district is through Tier One instruction. We want to better support teachers, so that they have the resources they need.”

The curriculum training will help administrators and teachers replicate success for all teachers, especially teachers who are new to the field.

“We are not looking to write a scripted curriculum that everybody follows,” Londrie said. “We want to create a base. We want to create this written curriculum, the what – not the how.”

Los Fresnos CISD, which has received the Texas Education Agency postsecondary readiness distinction for five consecutive years and recently received a grade of “A” in accountability ratings, is visited by districts in South Texas and throughout the state regularly.

“We are commonly asked by districts who come and visit and ask us ‘what’s the magic bullet?’ and what are we doing to get so much success with the student population we serve,” Londrie said. “There is no magic bullet. It is our people.”

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