As a district, we are committed to providing each student with a rigorous academic program that challenges his or her learning needs and develops his or her talents and interests. Our district mission states that we “educate students to be their best in and for the world.” To that end, teachers at all levels utilize a rigorous curriculum, a variety of instructional strategies, and other enrichment opportunities to meet student needs.
Magnet Program for Academically Talented Students
Housed at Roosevelt Elementary School, this unique program is designed for gifted students in grades 3-5. The nomination and selection process includes student ability and achievement assessments (Iowa Test of Basic Skills and CogAt), parent input, and teacher recommendation. Information is disseminated in the spring of second grade.
Middle School Advanced Math Placement
Recommended fifth grade students take the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and a district math assessment for placement into the advanced math program at the middle school level. Scores on these tests, student grades in math, and teacher recommendation all factor into the placement decision. Additionally, students may opt-in to the advanced program at parent request. Sixth and seventh grade middle school students also have an opportunity to take the district math assessment for advanced placement in 7th and/or 8th grade.
Advanced Placement Courses
West Bloomfield High School offers seventeen Advanced Placement courses:
Japanese Computer Macro Economics
French English Lit. Micro Economics
Spanish Calculus AB Calculus BC
Psychology Biology Chemistry
Physics B Physics C Government
American History World History
11th and 12th grade students may enroll in and attend college level courses at area colleges and universities, for which they receive both high school and college credit. Criteria for participation are available in the high school’s student handbook or from the counseling office.
Differentiation is the recognition of and commitment to plan for student differences. A differentiated classroom provides different avenues to acquire content, to process or make sense of information and ideas, and to demonstrate understanding. The goals of a differentiated classroom are to maximize student growth and to promote individual student success. The following strategies are often used in tandem with one another to meet the needs of a diverse student body:
Teachers assess prior knowledge. Data from pre-tests allow teachers to modify curriculum and arrange students into flexible working groups.
Classroom assignments that emphasize the same essential understandings or skills but use different learning modalities, content, and/or processing strategies, etc. are tiered. Assignments differ in depth and complexity to meet the student’s readiness level, interest, and/or learning profile.
Students with similar academic needs are placed into learning groups within a class or grade for a particular content or assignment; supportive of differentiation.
Based on pre-assessments, teachers compact the curriculum for students who have already mastered content to be covered.
Often used with curriculum compacting, students delve further into a topic of interest, exploring it in greater depth and complexity. Such projects often involve a presentation component and/or an interdisciplinary component.
Content and/or grade acceleration is provided for students with high academic ability who consistently exceed grade level expectations. The goal of acceleration is to adjust the pace of instruction to a student’s capacity. Because of its linear structure, mathematics lends itself to this strategy.
CURRICULUM / PROCESSES / MATERIALS
The West Bloomfield School District curriculum is based on the rigorous state Grade Level Content Expectations for K-8, the High School Content Expectations for 9-12 and the ACT College Readiness Standards. Curriculum materials are selected which best serve our district’s vision to “develop socially responsible citizens empowered to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing global society, and who are characterized by curiosity, creativity, critical thinking and the ability to effectively communicate and collaborate.” Thus, processes and materials are inquiry-based and allow high-end learners to be stretched and challenged to high levels of thinking and to greater depth and complexity of understanding.
AP Strategies engage students in active, high-level learning, thereby ensuring that every middle and high school student develops the skills, habits of mind, and concepts the need to succeed in college and beyond. Our secondary English Language Arts teachers have been trained in the use of these strategies. Secondary math teachers are scheduled to be trained during the 2009-2010 school year.
Foss Science Kits, K-5
FOSS is a research-based science curriculum for grades K-8 developed at the University of California at Berkeley, dedicated to improving the learning and teaching of science. Materials are designed to meet the challenge of providing meaningful science education for all students in diverse classrooms and to prepare them for life in the 21st century.
Science is an active enterprise, made active by our human capacity to think. Scientific knowledge advances when scientists observe objects and events, think about how they relate to what is know, test their ideas in logical ways, and generate explanations that integrate the new information into the established order. Thus the scientific enterprise is both what we know (content) and how we come to know it (process). The best way for students to appreciate the scientific enterprise, learn important scientific concepts, and develop the ability to think critically is to actively construct ideas through their own inquires, investigations, and analyses. The FOSS program was created to engage students in these processes as they explore the natural world.
This teaching framework used in grades K-5 language arts facilitates differentiated instruction in reading and writing, thereby challenging all students. Assessments pinpoint each student’s reading level; leveled libraries allow students to read at their level; and on-going individual student conferences allow teachers to extend each student’s writing skills. Strategies such as literature circles and book groups challenge students to make connections across pieces of literature and disciplines.
TCI Social Studies
In the spring of 2009, the Board of Education approved TCI materials for grades K-8. The selection committee believes this program’s teaching methodologies foster 21st Century Skills such as curiosity, creativity, critical thinking (analysis, synthesis, evaluation), and the ability to effectively communicate and collaborate--skills essential to becoming an effective global citizen--while mastering social studies concepts. Unlike typical texts, the textbook readings are directly incorporated into the classroom activities, thus directly engaging the reader. Graphic organizers help students make sense of the material and interconnect the concepts, thus increasing their understanding and retention of the content. The TCI approach provides rigor while also providing differentiated instructional strategies to challenge all students.