School District 91 board members got a first look at the materials and curriculum that programs administrators have selected for English-language arts (ELA) and math during their meeting on Nov. 12.
The school board meeting, held at district offices, 424 Desplaines Ave., took board members through the programs, with teachers discussing how they made their selections.
For kindergarten through second grade students, teachers are suggesting the board approve a program called Superkids from publisher Zaner-Bloser for the ELA curriculum. Teachers said they favored the program because of the way students were able to interact with the materials and the way the program captured young learners’ imaginations. Students in third through fifth grade will use materials created by Pearson, creators of the PARCC exam, called ReadyGen, primarily an online program. Although the programs are from two different publishers, teachers felt confident students would make a smooth transition.
The district approved an ELA curriculum three years ago that will remain in place for students in sixth grade and above. Some small changes have been made to the program since then, according to Superintendent Louis Cavallo.
Teachers also selected new math curriculum materials. For third grade through sixth grade, they recommended the district move forward with the EnVisonMATH program. Middle school students would use the digits program, which is fully online.
Across the programs, teachers stressed that they looked for curriculum programs that were both interactive and fun, as well as more challenging for students. All of the programs considered were developed with the new Common Core state standards in mind.
Following the meeting, Cavallo said the administration will seek information about students who don’t have access to a computer or the Internet at home but that much of the materials can be printed if needed. Cavallo also said that in light of the online nature of many of the programs, the district may reconsider their take-home policy for its 1:1 technology program, by letting students bring their computers home. Currently, students take their computers around school to classes but cannot take the devices home.
“We’ve used a lot of technology [in our classrooms] for years,” said Cavallo, adding that he didn’t believe using more online curriculum materials would be an issue for most students in the district. Because the programs are online, they can also be more easily updated, he said.
The district has plans to present the materials to parents through informational seminars at some point in the future before the board meets to approve them in December. However, parents can look at the curriculum materials in depth by stopping by the district’s offices, where the programs are on display.
Teachers piloted several programs for both subjects at the start of the year. The new curriculum programs would go into effect in the fall of 2016 at the start of the school year.