Teachers helped develop model curriculum aligned to college- and career-ready standards.
When beginning a lesson on area and perimeter earlier this year with her students, third-grade teacher Michele Elliott turned to New Jersey’s model curriculum for guidance on how to teach what students should know and be able to do under new, more-rigorous college- and career-ready standards. Then she set about having some fun.
Elliott, who teaches at Green-Fields Elementary School in West Deptford, New Jersey, and her students, applied masking tape to the tiled floor of their classroom to make rectangles of various sizes. The children then used the rectangles as the starting point for discussions about perimeter and its relationship to area.
This is just one example of how New Jersey teachers are using the State’s model curriculum, which the State’s teachers helped develop.
“The model curriculum guides you by expanding on the standards, but you have a lot of freedom with it in how you teach,” Elliott said. “It gives you a goal, but how you get there is based on whatever you think will work best for your students.”
The State’s Race to the Top grant helped support the development of the model curriculum, which covers English language arts and mathematics. An estimated 300 teachers volunteered to work with the State to create the model curriculum in 2012.
“They were very excited about putting something together that was coherent and made sense, that reflected what they wanted good instruction to look like,” said Meghan Snow, who helped lead the effort in mathematics for the New Jersey Department of Education.
Elliott’s district, which is just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, opted to use the mathematics model curriculum in all five of its schools because of its high quality.
New Jersey’s 75 Priority Schools, which have student outcomes that put them in the bottom five percent of the schools in the State, are required by the State to use the curricula unless they can show they have other alternatives that are also aligned to the new standards.
The State’s Regional Achievement Centers provide teachers at Priority Schools with coaching and professional development opportunities. The Priority Schools also benefit from a technology system provided to them by the State that allows teachers to view and analyze student performance data in real time throughout the school year using formative assessments embedded in the model curriculum.