Instructional Materials Pilot and Review
K-5 Science Instructional Materials Review
Purpose: Year-long review, pilot, and evaluation K-5 instructional materials in science in order to recommend a program the best matches RSD’s needs and values.
Who: A diverse group of K-5 teachers (10 classroom teachers, 1 instructional coach)
In grade level teams:
- Come to consensus on scoring and evidence in Amplify for each component of our rubric (Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) 3-Dimensional Design, Effective Practice/Student Engagement, Instructional Supports/Differentiation, Assessment, Ease of Use, and Equity/Bias)
- As a whole group: Share evidence for our scores in each area of the rubric and discuss strengths and weaknesses of Amplify
- Provide facilitator with input on the survey pilot teachers will take about each unit
- Plan logistics for teaching and supporting PLCs during second pilot
- Designed for and aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
- Well integrated with ELA: Lots of opportunity to practice reading and writing to understand the science ideas in each unit
- Ease of use:
- PowerPoints for each lesson
- Supports for student talk, like sentence stems and discussion structures
Instructional Materials Committee members will collect evidence throughout the pilot
Pilot teachers will share their students’ and their own feedback throughout the pilot
District facilitator and coaches will collect evidence via walk throughs throughout pilot
Who: A diverse group of K-5 teachers (9 classroom teachers, 1 digital learning coach, 1 instructional coach)
- Compare sample rubrics to determine essential criteria to collect evidence about during the pilot
- Come to consensus on which criteria to include in our rubric and the rating system we will use
- Consider quality evidence characteristics
- Practice recording evidence from the first few Amplify lessons that will be taught
- Plan logistics for teaching and supporting PLCs during pilot
Participants combined quality characteristics from the sample rubrics and determined that we will collect evidence in the following categories: Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) 3-Dimensional Design, Effective Practice/Student Engagement, Usability/Instructional Supports, Assessment, Differentiation, and Equity/Bias. Participants became comfortable with evidence collection and gained familiarity with the Amplify materials and first.
All pilot teachers will get a 2-hour training from Amplify Oct 15 and teach a unit from Oct-Dec.
- Instructional Materials Committee members will collect evidence throughout the pilot
- Pilot teachers will share their students’ and their own feedback throughout the pilot
- District facilitator and coaches will collect evidence via walk throughs throughout pilot
The Instructional Materials Review Committee will meet again January 9 to come to consensus on their scores for Amplify and plan for teaching the Smithsonian unit.
Who: A diverse group of K-5 teachers (9 classroom teachers, 1 digital learning coach)
- Review screening tool
- Screen 5 science programs: FOSS, STEM Scopes, TCI, Amplify, and Smithsonian
- 15 min: become familiar with program resources and organization
- 45 min: Scan a unit and record evidence on screening tool
- Come to consensus on scoring and ranking programs
- Discuss strengths and weaknesses of each program
- Vote on programs to pilot
Participants nearly unanimously concluded that the 2 strongest programs were Amplify and Smithsonian. Pilot teachers will pilot Amplify in the fall and Smithsonian in the winter (The 1st and 2nd grade Smithsonian materials are still being developed and the units won’t be ready until January).
We will meet October 1 to develop a rubric for collecting evidence during the pilot and practice collecting evidence from the Amplify unit teachers will be piloting October-December.
- Practice using the screening tool we developed last session
- Preview screening process for next session
- Make adaptations to screening tool and process based on our experience with the tool
- Finalize programs to screen
Participants became comfortable with using the screening tool efficiently to scan and evaluate materials and provided input on the screening process for next session.
We will meet on September 17 to screen instructional materials from 5 quality K-5 science programs to determine which two to pilot this year.
August 12, 13, 14:
Who: A diverse group of K-5 teachers representing all 3 hills in the Renton School District (10 classroom teachers, 1 SpEd teacher, 1 instructional coach, 1 assistant principal)
- Build a common understanding of Next Generation Science Standards and its innovations
- Gain a basic understanding of research-based best instructional practice in science
- Discuss what equitable science teaching and learning looks like, sounds like, and feels like in the classroom
- Define roles and expectations, norms, and a consensus model for the pilot process
- Determine priority screening criteria and develop a screening tool for evaluating instructional materials that addresses standards alignment and district priorities
Participants gained understanding of what to look for in instructional materials and confidence in their ability to make an informed decision about which materials best meet the criteria in Renton School District’s board policy.
We will meet again on September 10 to calibrate with the screening tool we developed
The HS ELA instructional review committee (including 8 teachers and 2 facilitators representing all high schools and grades) met virtually on April 21st to determine next steps in the instructional materials review process. The committee unanimously decided to pilot IBD during the 2020-21 school year when we are less impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The committee will continue to learn about the curriculum this spring in smaller ways.
Next Steps with Inquiry by Design, March 30th
The HS ELA instructional review committee (including 9 teachers and 2 facilitators representing all high schools and grades) met virtually for an hour to brainstorm some ideas on how to gather more in-depth information about Inquiry by Design curriculum in the event that the school closure continues and we are unable to pilot this year. The committee listed the additional information they needed and questions they need answers to, in order to fully evaluate the materials. They also brainstormed ways they could engage in the lessons at a deeper level to get some of those questions answered. Some of the ideas include talking with a panel of teachers from another district that uses the curriculum and trying the material out with either adult learners or students that are willing and able to engage digitally. No decisions were made, as this was a brainstorm session. We will wait until we get closer to the reopening of schools to modify piloting plans.
Study Sync Review, March 26th
Nine teachers and 2 district facilitators met virtually for 3 hours on March 26th to evaluate StudySync curriculum after experiencing about a 6 week-pilot. All high schools and grade levels were represented. The instructional materials committee shared evidence and came to consensus on scoring in each area of a rubric including categories in student engagement, instruction and text. The committee previously determined the curriculum had strong alignment to standards, both from review of materials and edReports score.
Some Strengths of Study Sync
- Accessibility for students to engage in learning independently if absent or on a different pace than the majority of the class.
- The organization of the technology platform assisted students in learning.
- Some of the genre focused tasks within a unit pushed kids to do more creative writing (create a play scene, apply poetic structure) and take academic risks to explore an idea.
- Teachers can modify any assignment and because there is so much material, would have a choice to intentionally choose learning activities within a lesson and unit.
- Thematic units included texts from different genres and wide- range of authors.
- Students are frequently and consistently asked to support their thinking with evidence.
- Materials include student examples of writing throughout the writing process.
Some Weaknesses of Study Sync
- There is limited choice for students, both in what they read and what they write.
- Student-facing directions are complex, lengthy and sometimes confusing.
- Writing assignments throughout the unit did not fully prepare or give students enough practice for the final cumulative writing task.
- Wide range in the success of the scaffolds for students. It didn’t always help or didn’t seem to match what students needed.
- The inclusiveness of authors focused on authors of color, but few readings within piloted units had critical thought on race or experience.
The HS ELA instructional Materials Committee met for two full days on October 30th and November 4th. Two district facilitators and 9 teachers (representing grades 9-12, the 3 comprehensive high schools and 2 alternative high schools) attended. The purpose of this time was to evaluate potential curricula using Equip rubric, equity screening tool and district priorities. StudySync and Inquiry By Design were chosen to move forward in the piloting process. StudySync leverages technology to provide both explicit instruction in skills and opportunities for students to practice in authentic ways that moves students towards standards mastery. Inquiry by Design gives students extensive opportunities to collaborate and go through an inquiry arc of comprehension and analysis of complex text. These two curricula were identified as having the strongest writing instruction out of all choices.
The committee members also identified a list of questions we still had about each curriculum that we would like to pay close attention to during the pilot. Next steps include planning the logistics of pilots that will run in January and March, as well as provide PD to teachers piloting.
The HS ELA Instructional Materials Committee met for 2 hours after school on October 14. Two district facilitators and 2 teachers (representing grades 9-12, 2 of the 3 comprehensive high schools and 2 alternative high schools) were in attendance. The agenda included review of survey data collected from RSD students enrolled in grades 9-12 from each of the 3 comprehensive high schools and 2 alternative high schools and from RSD HS ELA teachers. The committee evaluated the priorities identified as most important by both groups and used this analysis to further refine the list of priorities for instructional materials that will drive evaluation of materials selected for adoption. Top priorities include materials that honor diversity and include a variety of perspectives, promote independence and develop skills transferable skills that will serve students post-graduation, students having choice in texts and writing, opportunities for teacher creativity within the framework to enhance student learning, and that support the teaching of the writing process. Next steps include collecting options for instructional materials and evaluating top contenders using these identified criteria as well as published evaluation tools (Equip, iMet, Equity). Two sets of instructional materials will be chosen to pilot.
The HS ELA Instructional Materials Committee met for a full day on September 12. Two district facilitators and 9 teachers (representing grades 9-12, the 3 comprehensive high schools and 2 alternative high schools) attended. The agenda included in-depth study of the Common Core Standards and several tools used to evaluate instructional materials (Equip, iMet, Equity). Informed by that study, the committee began drafting and prioritizing criteria used to evaluate materials. Next steps include collection of student, teacher and family input and using the input to finalize district-specific criteria. The committee also agreed to a consensus model for choosing pilot materials and, eventually, the final recommendation for adoption.
On Thursday, September 19th, AP Government and AP U.S. History teachers were trained on textbook navigation, teacher resources, and online supports by a representative from Bedford, Freeman & Worth. Prior to the training, the AP U.S. History teachers were split between two different books, Fabric of a Nation and America’s History. During the training the U.S. History teachers learned the difference between the books; Fabric of a Nation covers condensed content with a larger focus on skills, whereas America’s History is more content focused with embedded skills. The teachers decided based on the needs of the students in Renton and the alignment to the College Board Framework, that they would pilot America’s History. After the training all AP teachers planned the unit they would pilot with their cross-district peers. As they planned, the teachers identified where they would assess students to monitor growth, how they would use resources, and how they would collect data to determine if the pilot materials meet the expectations of the district. AP U.S. History will pilot the first set of materials in mid-October, when they start their next unit. Due to trimester scheduling, Lindbergh High will pilot AP Government starting early October, at the start of the next unit and Hazen High will pilot AP Government in December when the second trimester begins.
Since schools closed, the elementary music adoption team, consisting of six music teachers and two district staff, have met three times to determine our recommendations for instructional materials adoption. On April 16, the team met to review the second piloted materials, GAMEPLAN. Due to the school closures, this pilot was cut short by about 4 weeks. However, all piloting teachers were able to pilot for 2-3 weeks, and we felt we had enough data to come to a decision. GAMEPLAN generally scored very high in all items related to instruction, but had gaps with the materials themselves and didn't include much multicultural music.
On April 23, the team met again to determine our recommendation. The team unanimously selected to recommend GAMEPLAN due to the high quality instruction and engaging, age-appropriate lessons. This decision was made with the understanding that we would need to supplement the materials to provide a complete experience for students. The team met one final time on April 30 to refine our supplemental recommendations, and is currently preparing to present our recommendations to DIMC and the school board.
Four piloting music teachers and two district staff convened to assess the Spotlight on Music pilot, and receive training on the GAMEPLAN curriculum. Additional piloting teachers received GAMEPLAN training on February 28. The GAMEPLAN pilot will begin the first week of March, and the adoption team will meet in April to evaluate the second pilot, and determine a recommendation for adoption.
Spotlight on Music Strengths
Interactive visuals: This program provides interactive songs that are projected, interactive instrument guides, listening maps, and many other visuals that are connected to the content of each lesson. The interactive visuals were consistently one of the areas where this program scored the highest.
Ease of Use: Digital materials were easy to navigate; each lesson included slides and other visuals, such as maps and videos, to connect to concepts across subject areas. There was also a detailed digital index that allowed teachers to find repertoire by searching for musical elements, languages, thematic content, and many other variables.
Vastness: The materials provided a colossal number of resources and ideas, including songs, activities, and interactive visuals.
Assessment: Students generally scored well on the assessments provided, although they tended to assess vocabulary and theoretical knowledge rather than performance skills.
Spotlight on Music Weaknesses
Equity: Even though the curriculum scored highly in this category during our screening process, it did not provide authentic opportunities to engage with cultural identities of students, and some of the repertoire was outdated or offensive.
Differentiation: Supports for ELL and special education differentiation were very general and not always helpful.
Instructional support: There was little guidance on how to teach the lessons. Some lessons would give a simple instruction for students to “dramatize” without explaining the process. Likewise, rubrics were not provided for assessments, and the connections between lessons and activities were not always clear.
Teacher Centered: Many of the lessons required teachers to talk for most of the lesson and offered limited opportunities for student-centered learning.
- Lesson Length: The lessons provided often needed to be taught over 2 or more music classes.
- Online-Only: This is a completely online curriculum which provided teachers with unlimited access. Unfortunately, during the pilot, the internet access was lost which made the program impossible to access. This highlights one drawback of the curriculum. Many teachers felt tied to their computers while teaching these lessons.
On December 20, piloting music teachers from 7 elementary schools received training from McGraw-Hill on the Spotlight on Music curriculum in the morning, and a small group of those teachers continued into the afternoon, working to fine-tune pilot procedures and expectations. Spotlight on Music will be piloted between January 6 and February 14 2020.
On November 22, 6 music teachers, one instructional facilitator, and one district ELL specialist met to screen 6 sets of instructional materials. There were 4 that scored highly, and the team selected two of those to pilot: GAMEPLAN and Spotlight on Music. Piloting is scheduled between winter break and spring break in 2020.
On September 25, 6 music teachers, one instructional facilitator, and one district ELL specialist met to examine research, stakeholder feedback, and other data to begin the creation of our screening tool. At that meeting, it was determined that we needed more time to work together specifically around understanding the standards. We added a release day on November 22 to give us this additional time.
On October 30, 6 music teachers, one instructional facilitator, and one district ELL specialist met to deeply examine the standards, finalize our screening tool, and calibrate our use of the screening tool to our current instructional materials. At this meeting, we elected to screen a 6th set of materials in addition to the 5 we were already planning to screen, and made some minor changes to our screening tool as a result of our calibration work.
Secondary Fine Arts was scheduled for three curriculum adoptions this year (Middle School Orchestra, Middle School Art, and Secondary Drama). While the work got off to a good start in the fall, it did not gain enough momentum to finish the process in this fiscal year. While it is disappointing that the adoptions are not moving forward at this time, fine arts teachers do not see it as a failure. Art and drama appreciated the time to collaborate around standards, vision and scope and sequence. Orchestra is considering adopting the newer edition of their current methods book as alternative to adopting a new curriculum.
Through this process, many positive cross-building relationships are developing. Historically, fine arts has functioned quite independently, but now they are coming together and working hard to make sure that Renton’s fine arts experiences are not only high quality (which they always were), but consistent across our district. Fine arts teachers are excited for what the future holds!
Members of the middle school orchestra, art, and drama teams met to review the adoption process and to form the committees that would be working on our adoption teams. Special emphasis was made about the need to tie all of our work to State standards and to make sure that our work is centered around engaging all students. We have the luxury of having small departments. Because of this, every member of each of these curricular areas decided to be on the committees. The middle school orchestra and art committee members include teachers from all four of our middle schools. The drama committee consists of teaches from Hazen, Renton High, Nelsen and Risdon
The three teams met in separate meetings. We reviewed our recently drafted scope and sequences and discussed how the new curriculums will tie into these and how we hoped to use them in the new trimester grading periods. The scope and sequences were only made last June. Because of this, the teams felt that it was important to re-visit the work and make sure that it is tied to all the current work we are doing in adopting new curriculum.
Each of the teams were focused on developing the screening tools we will use to measure curriculums. Each team worked on making a preliminary document that will help us to develop the screening tools. This document ended up being three lists. On the first list, they identified every standard that their courses currently address. Of those standards, they identified which ones were the most important and should be included on the screening tool. These made up the second list. Standards that are not currently being addressed, but should be, were also added to the second list. Finally, each team discussed best instructional practices for their content areas and compiled these on the final list. This discussion was particularly lively and engaging for art and drama. These teachers have essentially been working as individuals, and these new opportunities for collaboration and curriculum development are helping our teachers become unified, and even better than they already are!
Secondary Physical Educators met on Friday October 25th to begin the curriculum adoption process. Teachers from the 3 comprehensive high schools and one alternative school, along with a facilitator examined the needs of the students in Renton and how our current practices align to state standards. We examined and compared the limited resources available for high school PE classes. The committee is moving forward to pilot Focused Fitness Five for Life Advanced Curriculum. The Intermediate Curriculum in being used at the middle school level and the group felt that having some continuation of the current curriculum was important.
We engaged with a Focused Fitness staff member remotely who trained us in the Five for Life Curriculum and how to best access the content and curriculum for 90 minutes. Committee members started familiarizing themselves with the online e-curriculum and the classroom lesson plans.
The pilot will begin and end 2nd trimester in 4 high schools. The pilot will include as many different physical education classes as possible. On the agenda for next time is to finalize the evaluation tool and the pilot process.