The Pequannock Township School District preK-12 district curricula are designed to align to New Jersey State learning standards and instructional best practices. The district curriculum contains what students should know and be able to do (skills and content), how it is taught (instruction and methodology) and how it is measured (assessments).
Recently New Jersey has adopted the New Jersey Student Learning Standards, NJSLS (previously the Common Core State Standards and the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards) Detailed information is available at http://www.state.nj.us/standards
New Jersey has also released the new curricular frameworks for English Language Arts and mathematics. The purpose of the framework is to assist all districts and schools with a tool to guide curriculum and instructional practices. The frameworks provide guidance for the logical sequence to build foundation skills throughout the year with the goal of mastering the grade level standards. Each framework contains knowledge and skills that focus on what students need to know and be able to do. The Pequannock Township School District continues to modify all curricula to provide all students with a logical, comprehensive, articulated curriculum preK-12.
To encourage teaching methods that motivate, Pequannock Township teachers:
Teachers are committed to students and their learning; they
- Understand all students can learn
- Treat all students equitably
- Recognize individual differences and consider these differences in their practice
- Adjust their practice as necessary
- Understand how students learn
- Incorporate prevailing theories of cognition and intelligence in their practice
- Develop students’ cognitive ability and respect for learning
- Foster student self esteem, motivation, character, and civic responsibility
- Promote student self respect and regulation whilst caring for the individuals cultural, religious, and racial differences
- Know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students
- Understand the essential learning for each subject
- Understand knowledge is created, organized, linked to other disciplines in real-world setting
- Have command of specialized knowledge
- Know how to convey and reveal subject matter
- Are aware of preconceptions and background knowledge of their students
- Are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning
- Create, enrich, maintain, and alter instructional settings to capture and sustain the interest of their students and to make the most effective use of time
- Use colleagues and community to enhance their instruction
- Command a range of instructional techniques, know when each is appropriate, and implement them as needed
- Know how to engage groups of students to ensure a disciplined learning environment
- Organize instruction to meet goals
- Know how to assess students and diagnose their needs
- Employ multiple methods
- Think systematically about their practice and learn from experience
- Exemplify the virtues of education; curiosity, tolerance, honesty, fairness, respect for diversity, and appreciation for cultural differences
- Use their knowledge of human development, subject matter, and instruction as well as their knowledge of students to make principled judgments about sound practice
- Make decisions grounded in best practice literature
- Critically examine their practice
- Seek to expand their repertoire and adapt their teaching to new findings, ideas, and theories
- Emphasize learning rather than teaching
- Routinely collaborate with their colleagues.
- Share ideas and strategies with each other
- work in professional learning communities
|Children are naturally curious. They learn by doing and by interacting with their environment. The Pequannock Township’s instructional program is designed to provide a climate in which the questions that occur to children can be asked. The district’s goal is to encourage exploration, wonder, and learning through a thoughtful process of opportunity-based lessons. Successful schools will be those that expand student thinking through rich, exciting, and engaging learning activities that develop unintended skills, strategies, and knowledge as well as addressing state content standard and the district’s curriculum in each subject area.
Making School Meaningful and Motivating
The Township’s curriculum is committed to producing higher-ordered student thinking by challenging young people with authentic problems and real-life situations. The lessons learned will promote a long lasting and meaningful knowledge base that will encourage creative solutions to real-world issues. Students learn science, for instance, not just by reading textbooks and memorizing formulas, but by discovering for themselves through well-planned investigations, meaningful answers to teacher-posed problems. They use language skills to communicate their findings and discover mathematical formulas to resolve complex dilemmas. The system for curriculum delivery makes use of the latest technology and allows students to connect to people and places around the world, providing interesting new venues for study.
Such methods intrinsically motivate district students to apply their acquired knowledge and skills in original research and projects. Typical students discover for themselves that what is beautiful is valued just as much as what is useful. As a result, the district’s curriculum includes quality artistic and athletic coursework that provide students with varied opportunities to explore their own talents and energies.
What is most distinctive about the Pequannock Township instructional program is its emphasis on learning by doing. The district gives students realistic problems to solve through the meaningful application of concepts and content from many subject areas. Teachers pose problems of emerging relevance to students in order to foster high levels of creative thought. Such problems engender contradictions and promote serious study as students grapple with developmentally-appropriate problems suited to their ages and instructional capabilities. The desired outcomes for these centrally administered projects include increased student confidence, creative problem solving, basic skill development, and student self regulation.
Projects achieve results because students learn not only by reading, writing, and calculating but also by building, experimenting, and designing. Projects engage all of the senses and give full expression to the creativity in each student. Those students who are not as adept at expressing their ideas on paper, for example, can communicate through other media, including electronic forms.
Teachers embed quarterly technology-based work projects into the regimented curriculum. Such projects are designed to produce measurable results in the content areas explored while developing life-long applications in the use of Microsoft Office products (Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint). For more intensive topics of study (required each semester), students undertake ambitious projects, analyze complex problems, and pursue specialized avenues of inquiry that are beyond the scope of the regular daily schedule. These intensive study periods help students develop practical skills to apply to other sophisticated problems presented throughout the curriculum and assist in assessing students against the district’s ambitious standards.
Because projects require a greater investment in time than other types of learning activities, they focus on the most important concepts and skills in the curriculum; reading, writing, social sciences, etc. To assist schools in making the best use of project-based instruction, the Department of Curriculum and Instruction will provide principals and teachers with project plans that have clear curriculum objectives and proven success.
The Importance of Integration
Pequannock Township’s integrated curriculum--wherein traditional subject lines are crossed to promote deeper intellectual understanding--helps students make connections among subject knowledge and ideas. The project approach assists teachers in developing cross curricular ideas through enhancing student centered learning. Students, for instance, receive critical analysis of their writing skills as they prepare findings for science or math. They design artistic or musical forms of communication to present an idea to other students or faculty. They expand their knowledge of geography, politics, economics, and history as they retell the story of Custer’s last stand. In working out the concepts of their particular course of study, students see vividly how different areas of academic content apply to real life.
Integrated teaching is also an enjoyable way to learn and to teach. The methodology builds capacity in those involved and promotes healthy group learning. Teachers find that they more fully understand the complexities of teaching by presenting thematic teaching units across grades and content fields. They also find that students are more capable than they had previously believed; exhibiting the most remarkable findings that inspire continued learning.
When practiced creatively and purposefully, direct instruction is a powerful method. It involves a teacher guiding students through prepared presentations and discussions. Because student thinking must be based on a thorough application of factual information, students of all ages and grades need systematic instruction by a capable and knowledgeable teacher. The Pequannock Township Schools hold however, that since direct teaching strategies have the capability of overuse, that teachers employ such strategies carefully and thoughtfully. Good direct lessons, for instance, have a clear beginning, middle, and end. They follow a logical intellectual sequence toward an intended end. They then lead students toward intended and unintended learnings through meaningful practice and assessment.
Encouraging Active Listening and Learning
Successful direct instruction engages students as active listeners and participants. Teachers frame questions not simply to elicit answers but to get students to think, whether responding directly or listening to a classmate’s response. In the process, students learn to ask good questions, too.
Watchful teachers also recognize that the errors students commonly make provide great instructional opportunities. Skillful teachers know that students need immediate opportunities to apply and practice ideas presented in a lesson. Effective teachers appreciate the crucial role of swift and constructive feedback, which enables students to learn from their errors. Good teachers know the difference between memorization and knowledge.
Supporting Teachers to Enhance Instruction
To help teachers perfect their skills in direct instruction, Pequannock Township administrators will provide professional development in lesson planning and pacing, questioning techniques, and discussion strategies, with a focus on what works best for different ages and subject areas. The district will also offer principals and teachers access to classroom-tested lessons, many developed by teachers across the district. Through thoughtful application of this important instructional method, students can quickly acquire the requisite skills necessary for more applied forms of educational practice.
When well managed, cooperative learning is an effective instructional approach that builds interdependence and promotes higher levels of learning. The instructional technique provides flexible group learning for students of varying abilities (and ages). More capable students push group thinking by posing unique and progressive strategies for the solutions to teacher posed problems. Less capable students achieve at greater rates by relying on student-initiated thinking that supports the classroom presentation.
However, like other types of instruction, cooperative learning’s value is limited if it is not employed carefully and creatively. Students do not automatically learn more by working together. Cooperative learning in the district’s instructional program is marked by these characteristics.
It usually is preceded by a well-crafted lesson. Cooperative learning is a COMPLEMENT to other instructional activities.
It builds in a means of DETERMINING each student’s degree of mastery of the skills and content presented in the lesson.
Cooperative Learning is employed in the Pequannock Township schools because it is used in every day life to solve the problems each of us have each day. Students need such realistic modeling to reinforce and emphasize lesson concepts. In addition, cooperative learning puts peer pressure to positive use. Students learn to depend on one another to drive learning, shift strategies, and alter lesson development.
Policies and procedures used to identify students as gifted and talented are covered in Board Policy 2464 - GIFTED & TALENTED STUDENTS and Regulations 2464R - GIFTED & TALENTED STUDENTS. Additional criteria outlined in the policy and regulations include the following:
Applicable timelines in the identification process vary by program, but begin in September with identification for initial programs.
Any person or group with a legitimate interest in the schools of the Pequannock Township School District may present a request, suggestion, or complaint concerning the Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Act Program.
The complaint shall include: the name, address, and contact information of the complainant. Letters should identify at least one criterion from the information pertaining to the Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Act (A4710)
Complaints regarding the district’s adherence to the conditions outlined in the law shall be submitted to Gifted Education Director, Dr. Rosalie Winning. All complaints shall be reviewed according to established procedures. In those cases in which satisfactory adjustment cannot be made by the Director, principal or the staff, those complaints shall be referred to the Superintendent and/or Board for resolution. If the complaint is not resolved it will then be sent to the executive county superintendent alleging that noncompliance has occurred within one year prior to the date that the complaint was submitted.