The process for developing, implementing, and monitoring an Instructional Focus Calendar for reading, writing, mathematics, and science:
This process is set and accomplished at the District level where school-based staff and District staff collaborate to create the focus calendar. Each school is provided with a copy of the Focus Calendars at the start of the school year. It is expected that math and language arts teachers will plan their pacing and Curriculum Maps around the Focus Calendars. All other teachers are informed of the current instructional focus and are expected to integrate the skill within their subject area as appropriate
Determining which instructional Benchmarks will be given priority focus, based on need, for each content area (reading, writing, mathematics, and science):
In all subjects, the benchmarks which have been identified as a tested skill at each grade level are given priority. In addition, author’s purpose is included in every reading focus calendar assessment throughout the year in an attempt to give our students greater exposure to this skill since it has historically been a difficult skill for our students to master across the District.
The process to ensure instruction is based on individual students’ needs, as opposed to the master schedule:
Focus Calendar Assessments are scored electronically and the data is available to both the District and school through INFORM. At Howard Middle School, we print copies of data reports for teachers which indicate how their students did individually as well as by group. The grade level/subject area teachers meet in a Data meeting at the end of each assessment to analyze their results. In this meeting, they share ideas and strategies so that those teachers whose students did well can assist the teachers whose students did not perform as well.
The information teachers gain through the data analysis is shared with the administration either in person or via a written summary. The administration monitors teacher lesson plans through formal and informal classroom observations throughout the year.
In addition, teachers use this data to determine which skills may need to be retaught with individual students or classes or with the group as a whole.
How the school incorporates applied and integrated courses to help students see the relationships between subjects and relevance to their future:
Lesson plans are aligned at each grade level and subject area by the creation and use of a Curriculum Map. These maps are created collaboratively by the Howard Middle School teachers at that grade level and in that subject area. Individual teachers have the latitude to develop their own instructional strategies to deliver instruction within the confines of the Curriculum Map. All applied course instructors support the Focus Calendar skills by participating in school-wide initiates such as Wow Words, Word Walls, Column Notes and Writing activities which are documented in their lesson plans.
How the school incorporates students’ academic and career planning, as well as promote student course selections, so that students’ course of study is personally meaningful:
Students have limited selections as they progress through the middle school curriculum in preparation for their high school career. However, during their eighth grade year, all students participate in a Career Planning course in order to explore career options and aptitudes in preparation for the course selection and ninth grade scheduling process which our students complete in the Spring of their eighth grade year.