Board Briefs: Spring 2021 Curriculum Workshop

Board Briefs: Spring 2021 Curriculum Workshop

The District 58 Board of Education held a Curriculum Workshop on Monday, March 22, 2021 at O’Neill Middle School and via YouTube livestream. View the agenda. The meeting video is posted on the District 58 YouTube page.

Instructional Model Update

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell shared that District 58 is prepared to extend the instructional day beginning Wednesday, April 7 for students in grades K-8. The new schedule is: 

Preschool Schedule: No change to the current schedule

  • Blended Sessions: 8:15-9:45 a.m., 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m., 1:15-2:45 p.m.
  • Special Programs: 8:15-10:30 a.m., 12:30-2:45 p.m.

Full Day Elementary Schedule: 

  • A.M. Kindergarten: 8:20-10:50 a.m.
  • P.M. Kindergarten: 12-2:30 p.m.
  • Grades 1-6: 8:20 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Full Day Middle School Schedule: 

  • 8:30 a.m.-2:20 p.m.
  • 2:25-3:00 p.m.: Band/Choir/Orchestra

Dr. Russell reported that additional staff, including lunchroom supervisors, have been hired, and schools have determined new classroom configurations to allow the greatest amount of distance among students. Updated guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) permits distancing in instructional spaces of 3-6 feet between students. The District will maintain 6-feet distancing where possible; 6 feet is also required during lunch periods when students remove their masks. Dr. Russell noted that this shift will cause teacher changes for some students. The number will vary by location due to a number of factors, and is greater at the elementary schools.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Justin Sisul stated that initially District 58 predicted that 20% of students would experience a teacher change. A larger number of students than expected switched to onsite instruction, which resulted in a reduction in the number of remote sections needed. 14.7% of students in grades one through six will have a teacher change. Currently, 87% of students will attend school onsite, and 13% will be fully remote.

Each elementary school will retain one interventionist onsite; while this is a reduction from the current model and a typical year, it is better than initially planned. Some specialists are still needed to take on classroom teaching responsibilities in this shift. All synchronous instruction will occur during the school day; any asynchronous work will resemble typical homework. Students will have a 30-minute lunch period and 30-minute “intermission” period when they may have a structured mask or movement break. Specials will be taught within classrooms or outside as weather and space permit. Students will have one PE class per week, and 4.5 weeks of art and music each for the remainder of the year. Students will generally remain with their cohort, with exceptions for accelerated math and specific interventions or supports.

Middle school class periods will be increased by five minutes each, and onsite students will attend school in-person five days per week. Students will remain with their cohort with teachers switching classrooms. Those cohorts with less than six feet of distancing will move to an alternate location for lunch. For remote students, additional screen breaks are built into the schedule.

Curriculum Updates

Curriculum committees have generally not met this year, but will resume in 2021-22. Curriculum review and revision cycles have been adjusted forward one year, and budget forecasts have similarly been adjusted.

Curriculum Coordinator Christine Priester updated the Board on the implementation of the new math resource, Bridges in Mathematics. Teachers receive ongoing professional learning on the resource, as well as District support for synchronous and asynchronous planning. Ms. Priester, along with the District’s instructional coaches, visited several classrooms to understand how implementation is progressing. They found that students are becoming confident in explaining and using new mathematical models and strategies and are building greater conceptual understanding. The second video in the Parent Education Series will be released soon and explains key mathematical models at each grade level.

Curriculum Coordinator Matt Jewell provided an update on the social studies pilot process for grades six through eight. Teachers have completed pilots of two resources, McGraw Hill and Savvas. Both resources had a strong digital component; support the desire for student inquiry; provide a depth of instruction in economics, civics, history and geography; and are sensitive in their portrayal of ethic groups, gender, age, disabilities, cultures and religion. However, the committee has not yet reached  a strong consensus in favor of either resource. They decided to pilot an additional resource from National Geographic from April to June, and hope to come to the Board with a recommendation thereafter.

Summer learning programs have been revised and expanded for this summer to provide additional grade-level readiness support to students in need. 2021-22 will include a continued focus on math implementation, review of science implementation, K-5 writing curricular review and update, K-5 social studies pilot, and gifted program review.

Assessment Updates

Mr. Sisul stated that ISBE has permitted some flexibility in administering state assessments, so the District plans to postpone the IAR, DLM and ISA to fall 2021. 

Assessment and Data Conversations

Lester Assistant Principal Katie Novosel and Belle Aire Principal Brent Borchelt explained how assessment data review is used at the building level. The District Leadership Team met on Feb. 22 and considered how to define success for students in District 58, including through the Strategic Plan, relative to academic achievement and growth, capturing the whole child in the Portrait of a Graduate, and in SEL competency. 

The District continues to pursue its enhancement of the school improvement process through the adoption of the Cycles of Inquiry model. Administrators have been trained, but implementation was delayed due to the pandemic. Meetings with administrators are scheduled for this spring, with implementation beginning in June. The model has a strong focus on instruction and individual learning, seeking the root causes of data and developing tangible steps to respond to that data. Ongoing opportunities for professional learning, including the reinstatement of Professional Learning Mondays in the 2021-22 school year, also support school improvement.

During the Meeting, the Board Also:

  • Received one remote public comment from a parent who was dissatisfied with the District’s post-spring break instructional plan, as it will result in a teacher change for his child. The parent also expressed concern with Henry Puffer’s class sizes and the number of Henry Puffer students who will experience a teacher change. (Note: District 58 parents/guardians, if you have any questions about the composition of classes after spring break, please contact your child’s principal.)

Upcoming Events

  • Monday, April 9 at 7 a.m.: Financial Advisory Committee Meeting at the ASC/Zoom
  • Monday, April 12 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board Meeting at Downers Grove Village Hall/YouTube Livestream

District 58 Board of Education members are: Darren Hughes, president; Gregory Harris, vice president; Kirat Doshi, Emily Hanus, Steven Olczyk, Jill Samonte and Tracy Weiner, with Dr. Kevin Russell, superintendent; and Melissa Jerves, board secretary.