Curriculum Update for September 2014

posted Oct 30, 2014, 5:54 AM by

Teacher Mini-Grants/District Assessment Program /Professional Learning

September 2014

MSD’s Local Assessment Program - Why?

Now that the Manchester Academic Standards (MAS) work is complete teams of teachers have been working with data coaches from the New Hampshire Department of Education since the end of August to develop math and ELA assessments for students in grades K - 8. The curriculum units of study that were developed in 2013 are being revisited and aligned to the MAS which are then being assessed periodically throughout each month. The assessments serve two primary purposes that are diagnostic and programmatic, respectively. Data that are generated will be used to help teachers identify areas for improvement in their instruction relative to the achievement of their students, and this process of understanding and discussing the data will be collaborative within schools and across the district.

Dufour and Eaker’s model for professional discourse and intervention action is the model we will be replicating. The process is very simple: teach, assess, compare, discuss, plan, re-teach/interventions, assess, discuss, plan, re-teach/interventions and so forth. While there are specific steps we take as professionals to keep consistent the operations of a PLC, there is a greater need to identify the data we will be using. Data must be derived from common sources of inquiry designed to measure levels of mastery of the same standards. This allows a grade 3 teacher at Green Acres and a grade 3 teacher at Wilson to compare student results from the same unit assessment measuring achievement towards the same standards measured. This comparison should prompt questions from both teachers that are exploratory in nature, not judgmental. The conversations are designed so that teachers learn from each other what worked best in their classroom.

The program has been rolled out slowly and not without some hiccups. There have been some errors in the documents as well as some frustration with Performance Plu, the online data warehouse tool we use to organize data and generate reports. Teachers and principals at the K-5 levels have been amazing in their feedback and patience with the problems. As issues have arisen they have been quick to alert us and the problems have been remedied. We will continue to work together to solve the issues and minimize the feelings of frustration.

Our development teams are working as quickly as they can with as much attention to detail as possible. The local assessment calendar for the whole year is almost finalized and when it is complete it will be sent to you for easy reference. Special kudos to Melissa Gray, Elisabeth Hood, Michele Golden, Ruth Broderick, Philomena Landrigan, and Katie Labranche for their work early on, and additional thanks to the scores of teachers who’ve joined the development ranks since then.

Bean Foundation Educational Fund Mini-Grants for You

The Norwin S. and Elizabeth N. Bean Foundation offers Bean Education Enhancement Fund (BEEF) grants to educators.  The mini-grants, generally up to $750, support creative projects that build upon or expand classroom curriculum, offer new opportunities to students through co-curricular activities, or address issues of health and wellness in the school setting.  The grants are intended to enhance curriculum and support enrichment programs designed by faculty and staff.

Details and the application cover sheet are available at under Educational Enhancement Mini-Grants.  Applications should take the form of a short narrative (1 to 3 pages) and a completed Bean Foundation Educational Enhancement Fund Application Cover Sheet. Applications must be signed by the school's principal. They are accepted year-round for projects to be completed during the school year.  After visiting the website, questions may be addressed to our good friend Kathy Cook at

Your Own Professional Learning

There have been announcements recently about professional learning opportunities for all staff in the district so let’s see if we can sort them out here.

District Learning Network - The DLN is an online connection tool that gives all teachers the power to share and learn with each other. Our schools are filled with many talented teachers who have a whole lot of expertise to share. We also have schools with inquisitive teachers who want to learn more about their craft. In most cases, every teacher feels both ways and desires a way to share what they know and learn what they don’t. That is exactly what the DLN is for - sharing and learning together. We spent September testing a few workshops to work out the bugs and we are now ready to roll the program out to you. Feel like offering a workshop to others? Great! Use the DLN Workshop Proposal form located on the DLN site. Want to attend a workshop locally for free? Great! Use the DLN site to find something that is right for you and sign up. While linked above, the DLN is located on our school district website under Professional Development contained with the Departments tab. Upon attending a workshop and completing a workshop evaluation you are sent your participation certificate electronically and your hours are sent right to the PD office.

Aspiring leaders Program with Southern New Hampshire University - We have formed quite a strong partnership with SNHU to offer a discounted master’s degree program to employees of the Manchester School District. All courses will be taught in a district school on a schedule that meets the needs of each cohort. Staff have the opportunity to earn the M.Ed. in education administration, curriculum and instruction, or education technology integration. The cost for each course is $675 (as opposed to the $1880 on campus) and the curriculum is being tailored to meet the needs of the Manchester educator. All courses are taught by full-time professors and adjunct faculty and appeal directly to the work you are doing everyday with students. There were 106 teachers who attended the information session and the first cohort will begin next term in November.

Collaborative M.Ed. for Teachers - Three institutions within the University System of New Hampshire: Granite State College, Plymouth State University, and the University of New Hampshire-Manchester, are pleased to announce a new collaborative master's degree program developed to support teachers in the Manchester School District. Through this innovative partnership, the institutions have designed a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction for less than $10,000. This affordable opportunity will advance content specific learning through a technology rich approach leading to school transformation. The importance of this program and curriculum:

  • Provides focused, advanced content curriculum in English, Mathematics, History, Science, or Computer Science

  • Centered on collaborative, inquiry-based teaching and learning for rich and diverse populations

  • Models systemic use of technology to enhance teaching and learning for 21st century environments

GSC, PSU and UNHM are set to host an Information Session at Manchester High School West on Wednesday, October 22 from 3:00-5:00 pm.  College representatives will be presenting information about the program and can meet with individual teachers as needed.  Refreshments will be provided.

URead of the Week