Katie Feldman, Bugbee Curriculum Specialist
(860) 929-5500 x5502
Please click on the bars below for curriculum updates throughout the year.
Katie Feldman, Bugbee Curriculum Specialist
West Hartford Public Schools has begun a multi-year implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). These standards, adopted by the state of Connecticut, are the backbone of our new science curriculum. During the 2017-2018 school year, our students in grades 2 and 3 will embark on this new science curriculum.
The NGSS calls for active science engagement in our classrooms through three dimensions including Cross Cutting Concepts (how students think), Science and Engineering Practices (what students do) and Disciplinary Core Ideas (what students know). The NGSS focus on deep understanding of content as well as the application of concepts in science. Written as performance expectations, our new standards closely align with the Common Core Curriculum, are integrated K-12, and prepare our students to make sense of the world around them.
Each unit of study is based on a story line (a phenomenon) that students can observe and to which they can easily relate. The lessons in the unit will help students discover and explain what is happening in the phenomenon. The 5 E Instructional Model, which is not new to West Hartford, will support our students as they Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate science.
In the classroom, you will notice that students will have the opportunity to explore and begin to construct their own understanding before learning the content. This inquiry based approach will foster rich conversations. Students will be engaged and excited about describing a phenomenon or solving a problem. Below you will see the units of study planned for our 2nd and 3rd graders this year. Implementation of the NGSS in Grades 1 and 4 will occur during the 2018-2019 school year, followed by implementation in Grades K and 5 during the 2019-2020 school year.
West Hartford’s 2017-2018 NGSS Implementation
Matter and Its Interactions
Structure and Properties of Matter
Movement and Interactions of Objects
Forces and property
Changes of the Land
Impact of Wind and Water
Similarities and Differences in Organisms
Plants and Animals
Ecosystem Dynamics: Animal / Plant Adaptation and Survival
Traits of organisms that support survival, habitat, seed dispersal and pollination
Survival of Organisms
Changes to Organisms’ Environment
Fossils, weather and climate
Curriculum Update: Social Studies
In February 2015 the Connecticut State Board of Education passed the Connecticut Social Studies Framework. The new framework encourages instruction in four disciplines: Civics, Economics, Geography and History. West Hartford Public Schools has adopted a multi-year implementation approach for our new standards.
Last year, we began with implementation of two of the four disciplines: Civics and Geography. These two disciplines help to build the foundational skills that students need to be successful social scientists. Civics is rooted in fostering social and emotional development and the ability to interact with one another in the classroom. In Kindergarten through 3rd grade our students focus on knowing yourself, recognizing how your behavior impacts others, understanding and following rules, and developing healthy relationships. In 4th and 5th grade, our students focus on Citizenship and Civic Virtue, Local and State Government and Federal Government.
Students at all grade levels are engaged in the on-going study of Geography. In Geography students will learn to visualize where objects, places, cities and countries are in relation to one another. They will also learn to read and build maps.
This year, we will add the the discipline of History to our curriculum in 4th and 5th grade. Our 4th graders will focus on the history of West Hartford and the State of Connecticut while our 5th graders will focus on Exploration and Colonization. These units are closely tied to the English Language Arts curriculum.
In social studies, the goal is to help students develop discipline-specific skills so that they can begin to think historically, to solve historical problems, to see cause and effect, notice change over time, identify bias, as well as relationships between people, places, and time. Through an inquiry approach, students learn to develop questions and plan resources, apply disciplinary tools and concepts, evaluate sources and use evidence from them, and finally communicate their conclusions and take informed action on what they have learned.
Home-school connections are important. As your children delve into social studies in school, please continue to foster their thinking and understanding at home. Below are some questions that can be adapted for each unit of study.
Ask Me Abouts:
Grades K-3: How does this action affect me? My Family? My School?
Grades 4 - 5: How do historical events affect our community? Our State? Our World? How is this different than what has happened in the past?
An Eye on Conferring
Three years ago, West Hartford Public Schools implemented Writing Workshop. The workshop model includes a mini-lesson, independent writing, conferring and opportunities for sharing. One essential component of the Writing Workshop is the writing conference. Through the writing conference teachers work one-on-one with students to support, guide and teach writing. Early in November a number of our teachers attended a professional development workshop with Carl Anderson, author of How’s It Going? A Practical Guide to Conferring with Student Writers.
Why is Conferring so Important?
Conferring is differentiated instruction. It is an opportunity for your child’s teacher to tailor instruction to the individual writer while providing students with specific feedback.
What happens during a Writing Conference?
During a writing conference, students will learn what they are doing well, as well as writing techniques to support their next mission (ie: next steps towards their goal). Teachers address only one writing skill during the conference in an effort to provide focused instruction. In addition to providing excellent, individualized instruction, the writing conference allows students and teachers to develop strong relationships. Through the one-on-one conference, teachers learn about students’ interests, passions and hobbies. Students are more engaged in the writing process when they are connected and excited about their writing pieces. Just like during a mini-lesson, the teacher may refer to a mentor text, anchor chart, or previous piece of writing during the conference. The ultimate goal of the writing conference is not about improving one piece of writing, but instead encouraging students to apply their skills and techniques to their writing. In November, Carl Anderson reminded us to “teach the writer, not the writing!”