From the Math Curriculum Specialist Team
Have you heard? In connection with Jeffco Thrives Priority #1: Our Learners, Our Future, some of our Jeffco schools will be implementing a new Math resource during the 2022-2023 school year!
Illustrative Mathematics (IM) is a K–12® core curriculum designed to give all students equity and access to grade-level mathematics — ensuring students are active participants in their learning. Teachers and students will be able to access the resource digitally through the Imagine Learning (formerly known as Learn Zillion) platform. Imagine Learning is an IM-Certified Partner, and the digital platform provides an interactive experience where students thrive through inclusive instructional routines, collaborative math discourse, and digital tools that promote thinking and reasoning.
Starting in the Fall of 2022, Cohort 1 schools will be diving into this problem-based curriculum. This curriculum aligns closely with ideas outlined in the Jeffco K-12 Mathematics Instructional Framework by engaging students through embedded differentiation, instructional routines, and math discourse that promote modeling and reasoning.
Want to learn more? Click here!
By Adrienne Rossi-Genova
“Engagement is more about what you can do for your students. Empowerment is about helping students to figure out what they can do for themselves.”
- G. Couros
Project Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge (PBLWorks). PBLs can range in duration, from a week to a full unit’s length of time. The culmination of learning is to create a project or presentation to deliver to a real audience.
There are many high-leverage teaching practices used in PBL which translate to any classroom’s work. One of these wrap-around practices is culture building, which is a Gold-Standard PBL teaching practice from PBLWorks. “Teachers explicitly and implicitly promote student independence and growth, open-ended inquiry, team spirit, and attention to quality” (WHAT: Gold-Standard PBL).
This view of culture reflects real-world skills that anyone might do as part of their job. From task organization to research to developing public products, teachers who routinely use these practices as a part of the way they do business in the classroom are promoting the deepening of Essential or 21st Century Skills. In addition, developing the classroom’s culture improves learning because students know their work and feel empowered to carry out tasks independently.
“Classroom environment is one of the most important factors affecting student learning. A positive environment is one in which students feel a sense of belonging, trusting others, and feel encouraged to tackle challenges, take risks, and ask questions”.
Joan Young, Encouragement in the Classroom (2014)
Culture is defined as ‘the set of shared attitudes, beliefs, values, goals, and practices that characterize an institute or organization’” (PBLWorks, 2021). In Candice Steinke’s and Erika Lee’s classrooms at Foothills Elementary, their Smart Doll PBL exemplified a positive classroom culture. They promoted student independence through student voice and choice-- students made decisions about who they would research and which major life events to include in their timeline and essay. Students developed an attention to quality when creating their own Smart Doll-- from choosing a design to cutting to sewing; students themselves did the work.
Many teachers engage in culture-building activities at the beginning of the school year or semester. Dedication to the development of culture in the classroom not only builds relationships but strengthens students’ convictions about themselves as learners and their ability to create excellent independent work.
PBLWorks. (n.d.). What is PBL? https://www.pblworks.org/what-is-pbl
PBLWorks. (n.d.). WHAT: Gold standard PBL: Project based teaching practices. https://www.pblworks.org/what-is-pbl/gold-standard-teaching-practices
PBLWorks. (2021). Project based learning handbook for elementary school.
Young, J. (2014). Encouragement in the classroom: How do I help students stay positive and focused? (ASCD Arias). ASCD.
By Dave Yonkie
“Intelligence and skill can only function at the peak of capacity when the body is healthy and strong.”
~ John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
Physical education is an important educational component in grades K-12. Research shows a strong correlation between physical fitness and improved academic success. Plus, healthy students have fewer absences and behavioral issues which also contribute to academic achievement. P.E. teachers strive to teach physical literacy. A physically literate student has the “motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value, and take responsibility for a lifetime of physical activity.” (Whitehead, 2014)
For good health, SHAPE America and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend school age children spend at least sixty minutes per day engaged in some form of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). P.E. teachers play an important role not only in helping students achieve these MVPA goals, but also in shaping the habits and attitudes that set them on a lifelong path of health enhancing physical activity.
Transforming the Learning Experience
JeffCo P.E. teachers are turning to wireless heart rate (HR) technology in their relentless quest to improve health and physical fitness outcomes for students. The use of wireless HR monitors is transforming the learning experience by giving students a voice in their own health and wellness journeys. HR monitors allow students to privately view “in-the-moment” biometric feedback to help them understand what is happening inside their body during exercise. The tracking and reporting capabilities of the system helps motivate them to take ownership of their physical activity time and intensity as they work toward realizing their personal goals for health and wellness.
The Student Experience
Wireless HR technology has been deployed in all JeffCo middle and high schools, and in a few elementary buildings. Students find the technology engaging and easy to understand; their reactions have been overwhelmingly positive! Said one 7th grade student, “I like wearing the heart rate monitors, because they motivate me to work toward a higher heart rate, so I don’t slack off.” In one survey of middle school teachers who are actively using the tool, teachers report 91% showed moderate-to-high levels of increases in the amount of time students spend in health enhancing heart rate zones.
Implications for Teaching & Learning
Beyond promoting increases in MVPA time, heart rate monitors provide a pathway for P.E. teachers to teach important curricular outcomes, including; goal driven fitness planning, and training principles such as resting, recovery and training heart rates, rates of perceived exertion, specificity, progression, overload, resistance and tedium to name a few.
HR technology is the most accurate and objective tool for measuring exercise intensity. Some teachers are using the technology to measure their effectiveness in helping students realize their fitness goals. System feedback and reporting capabilities can help teachers understand if they’re on the right path, or if adjustments in their planning and instruction are necessary. The level of detail in the reporting gives teachers the information they need to offer students a higher level of personalized support, regardless of their fitness level. The data generated through HR systems can help support a well crafted teacher growth goal.
School & Family Connections
Health and physical fitness outcomes are enhanced when schools, students and families work together. The reporting capabilities of HR systems allows teachers to share personalized, daily reports with students and parents that are simple and easy to understand. With just one “click” of a button each family can receive a student report containing information about the amount of time and level of intensity spent in health enhancing activity. These reports can provide a nice segue into conversations at the dinner table, or during school conferences!
The pandemic of the last two years has complicated the successful implementation of this amazing technology. Remote learning, initiative fatigue, teacher hesitancy and fear of spreading the Covid virus by sharing HR monitors have presented some challenges that will need to be overcome with some creative thinking, in order for this work to realize it’s full potential. Teachers continue to receive professional learning using small group, and direct one-to-one support. Teachers have access to District “in-house” expert trainers and dedicated vendor support. A semester-long MVPA Challenge has been started to incentivize more teachers to use their monitors. This contest recognizes teachers on a weekly basis for the number of sessions they post using the monitors, and for the highest average time their students spend in MVPA time.
P.E. teachers strive not only to give students the knowledge and competency, but the habits and attitudes to live a healthy, physically active lifestyle. HR Technology is a tool that can help teachers reach these goals. HR technology puts ownership of physical activity in the hands of students and provides opportunities for teachers to address important curricular outcomes. Working together, P.E. teachers, students and parents can help reach health & fitness outcomes that last a lifetime!
Heart Tech Plus (HTP) Customer Support
Heart Tech Plus (HTP) YouTube Channel
Dedicated HTP Contact - Brad Hull at: 877-456-3198, or email at: brad@HeartTechPlus.com
Interactive Health Technologies (IHT) Vimeo Tutorials
Interactive Health Technologies Website
Dedicated IHT Contact - Lois Mach at: 701-799-8432, or email at: Lois@ihtusa.com
P.E. Internal Website: The MVPA Challenge
SHAPE America Physical Activity Guidelines
Centers for Disease Control Physical Activity Guidelines for School Age Children
David.Yonkie@jeffco.k12.co.us - Curriculum & Instruction, K-12 P.E. Coordinator
Whitehead, M. (Ed.) (2010). Physical Literacy: Throughout the Lifecourse. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
By Sarah Hurd and Natalie Schaefer
“There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others” - Michelle Obama
February may be the shortest month of the year in terms of number of days, but anyone who has taught through the month of February knows that it is a mighty month. We have Groundhog Day (although, there’s something about the past year that feels a little like a continual version of Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day!), President’s Day, and, of course, the month-long celebration of Black History Month. Black History Month is an opportunity to focus on highlighting courageous leaders such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks. It is also a month to celebrate Black voices and perspectives through the sharing of stories, poetry, oration, and narratives that demonstrate the experiences and contributions of foundational Americans. It is 28 days to affirm cultural traits and contributions and reframe thinking. In Jeffco, we not only want to make sure we take the time to celebrate Black History Month, but also to honor that these stories should not only be taught this month, but all throughout the curriculum.
As Learning for Justice reports, students throughout the country often encounter curriculum that does not fully address the history of Black Americans. “What students often get instead is a condensed version of factoids, a February full of “holidays and heroes,” when they can explore sanitized experiences of Black people without any context.”1 The Social Studies curriculum team is currently adjusting unit-specific materials to push teaching beyond chronicles of “famous firsts”, exceptional Black people, and trauma spotlights in relation to marginalized populations in the United States. Honoring Black history is inextricably connected with the broader objectives of racial justice and racial healing for people from all communities, and pushing ourselves to think intersectionally about other marginalized social identities that can lead to compounding struggles. As Audre Lorde states “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives”.
We encourage teachers and students to think critically about key figures in history. Learning for Justice explains it this way:
Too often we present historical events and figures as one dimensional—all good or all bad. But we know people are more complex. For example, the Smithsonian’s Paradox of Liberty exhibit tells the complex story of Monticello, the home of founding father Thomas Jefferson, as a place of innovation and excellence through craftsmanship as well as a place of oppression and the brutality of slavery.
This process of examining the complexity of a person or event helps students practice four thinking dispositions that Dr. Cabrera, author of Thinking at Every Desk, calls critical in order for a student to take on more rigorous content in the classroom: distinction (how are things different), relationship (how are things the same), system (how are things connected), and perspective (what are the possible ways to understand this thing).
The social studies team, through the strong partnership with the Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion team, are collaborating in the work of allyship and are working to move Jeffco beyond the bite sized pieces of Black history to infuse our curriculum with the rich history of our country that is Black History, Indigenous History, Womens’ History, and also continues to elevate the history of the United States. We are also working with other content areas such as English/ Language Arts, to create strong connections across content areas and through disciplinary literacy to expand opportunities for students to engage in these topics.
To conclude, we are excited to see the lessons of Black history, and ways the teachers and schools will honor the resilience, creativity, and vitality of Black people in the face of inequity and violence, past and present. And just how we encourage the use of other commemorative months such as American Indian Heritage Month (November), Asian Pacific Heritage Month (May), and Women's History Month (March) to highlight stories and contributions of various American groups, we also strive to do the same within the curriculum and resources available to teachers and students in Jeffco. Below you will find a list of resources to support learning, discovery, and lesson planning this month from several trusted sources. Jeffco teachers can find various resources across grade levels in Bridge to Curriculum that support examples mentioned above.
Sarah.Hurd@jeffco.k12.co.us and Natalie.Schaefer@jeffco.k12.co.us - Curriculum & Instruction TOSAs/ Social Studies
Dillard, C. (2019, January 11). Why We Need Black History Month. Retrieved February 02, 2021, from https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/why-we-need-black-history-month
By Jill Kalb
“Should this Math 7th student be in Algebra 1? The body of evidence is strong!” “ Did this student opt out of Algebra 1 credit in MS? If so, what math do they take as a freshman?” These are questions and discussions that are happening at this time of the year. Knowing that accurate placement is imperative to a student’s future plans and academic pathway, we need to be extremely considerate of our process of placing students in math courses. When having these collaborative conversations in your buildings and with your teams, consider the following reflective questions:
Step 1: Establishing Communication
According to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ position on Access and Equity in Mathematics Education , “Achieving access and equity requires that all stakeholders:
MS Placement doc
HS Placement doc
5-12 Math Pathways
Jeffco Math Acceleration Process
Please reach out to the Secondary Math team (Jill Kalb, Lindsey Kjoller and Ali Tanner) with questions or if you would like a thought partner around math course placement and scheduling.
Growing and Aligning Middle School CTE Programs
By Kate Harris
Career and Technical Education (CTE) has gone through some major shifts in the last few years. These changes have occurred at the national, state, and local levels as leaders work to better support career exploration and preparation. Thanks to 5A funding Jeffco has been able to directly support middle school CTE programs and as a result middle school CTE programming has grown tremendously. Currently 24 middle schools have Middle School Combined Exploratory Programs supported by a total of 88 CTE credentialed teachers.
In addition to growing programs and credentialing teachers, 5A funds have been used to develop middle school competencies and purchase resources/equipment for programs that will support the implementation of the competencies. Using a variety of resources, but anchoring to Colorado’s Secondary Pathways, content area expert teachers and district level staff worked to create competencies for our middle school pathways/courses. The competencies are written in a scope and sequence format that teachers can use as a planning tool. Technical competencies, WBL opportunities, CTSO integration, and career exploration are all components of the scope and sequence teachers can utilize when planning for high quality CTE instruction. The creation of the scope and sequences prompted the question, “What resources are necessary to teach these competencies?” To answer this and support our growing programs the content teams curated “resource bundles” that directly support the implementation of the competencies within each CTE content. Then, teachers selected the bundle that would best support their program and the CTE department purchased the resources and equipment.
These new competencies and resources create consistency across middle school programs as well as directly aligning middle school standards to the high school curriculum and pathways.
Check out the HS and MS CTE Competencies:
Colorado’s Secondary Pathway Competencies
Jeffco’s Middle School CTE Competencies
Curriculum & Instruction