An accomplished atmosphere filled North Side High School on Thursday morning as nearly 150 teachers concluded three weeks of mapping out students' upcoming academic year.
Fort Wayne Community Schools educators from all levels – elementary, middle and high school – applied to participate in developing new math and language arts curriculum that will be used districtwide to increase student achievement.
Kindergarten teacher Jared Flotow said the opportunity meant a chance to help shape the district's vision.
“We are at a point where we recognize the need for a universal, rigorous curriculum across all schools and grade levels in the district,” Superintendent Wendy Robinson said in a statement.
“This curriculum is designed to challenge students to their potential and allow teachers to focus on the individual needs of students as they move through the curriculum.”
The new math curriculum supports the district's shift in teaching Algebra I to eighth-graders to better prepare them for college-entrance exams and higher-level math courses. After Algebra I, students will take Algebra II as ninth-graders and geometry as 10th-graders. Previously, Algebra I was generally for ninth-graders.
The language arts curriculum emphasizes integration, moving away from thinking that skills – such as reading and writing – should be taught in separate blocks of time, Flotow said.
Teachers wrote the curriculum – which includes units of study – in three four-day workweeks at North Side, where on Thursday they continued to meet in small groups. Paper signs outside classrooms identified their focus, such as geometry and freshman/sophomore language arts.
They paused to grab some food – a token of appreciation – and for group photographs.
The federally funded PEER grant paid for the process, which included support from the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin and CenterPoint Education Solutions.
FWCS will use upcoming professional learning meetings to prepare teachers for the changes, said Jennifer Mable, curriculum director.
High school math teacher Kathleen Cagle said the first year might be rough, but she is excited for the years that follow. The changes, she said, are a “shift for teachers, definitely.”
The work isn't over yet. Teachers will finish the math and language arts curriculum next summer – select grade levels were addressed this year – and they will focus on science and social studies in 2020.