St. Margaret of Scotland Parish School curriculum guide is just that – a tool used by teachers to guide their curriculum and instructional choices. The revised Curriculum Guide is the product of four years’ worth of dedicated effort by St. Margaret’s teachers. We began the process of revising our curriculum guide by taking what was most effective form our previous curriculum guide. We then began to research other published standards, especially the national standards and the Missouri Grade Level – and Course –Expectations and Resources. Just when we thought we had designed a guide that would challenge our students to grow as thinkers and learners the Common Core State Standards were published. Back to the table we all went to carefully study the Common Core State Standards in light of our newly revised guide and our students’ learning needs. We have blended what we believe to be the best that the Common Core State Standards have to offer with the best of what our own curriculum guide has to offer. The final product is a curriculum guide that directs and challenges our teachers as they design instruction that both supports and challenges their students.
Good curriculum guides can never be static but are always a work in progress, and so ours is. We are constantly critiquing and assessing our students in light of our curriculum guide even as we critique and assess our curriculum guide in light of our students’ academic growth.
There is no single right format for a curriculum guide. We chose a benchmark approach. The benchmark statements for each grade level subject area indicates the essential learning expected of students by the end of that year. Teachers have the freedom to determine instructional methods and resources for ensuring that the benchmark’s defined learning will happen. Each benchmark at each grade level is the result of learning from the previous year and the necessary learning in preparation for the upcoming year.
Our Curriculum Guide opens with school wide goals for learning – these goals are shared by all students at all grade levels in all subject areas. From there the guide narrows just a bit to subject area goals – although specific to a subject area, these goals are also the expectations for thinking and learning by all students at all grade levels. Finally, the guide presents benchmarks – statements of essential learning for each student specific to grade and subject areas.
I hope you will find our Curriculum Guide informative. However, in the end it is static unless brought to life by qualified, masterful teachers who value thinking and learning, who are confident that each child is capable of thinking and learning, and who design the lessons and assessments that bring the thinking and learning to birth. You can witness our outstanding learning environment first hand by visiting our school, walking the halls, peeking into classrooms. On this website you can also witness the curriculum guide in use by spending some time reading through the teachers’ pages in which they share their curriculum plans for the upcoming quarter. School parents use our on-line Fast Direct system for monitoring their children’s assignments – the curriculum in process day to day.
Juliann DePalma Hesed