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Tue, Aug. 03

Curriculum calendar to aid teachers with Common Core implementation

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - With the new Common Core education standards now in effect, Williams teachers will have a new resource at their disposal starting in the fall to help them effectively implement the standards.

The Williams Unified School District (WUSD) Governing Board approved an intergovernmental agreement for the Beyond Textbooks program at its March 12 meeting.

WUSD Superintendent Rachel Savage described Beyond Textbooks as "a program that provides a curriculum calendar about what's the optimum order for teaching the standards in a way that students can be successful."

The Vail School District developed Beyond Textbooks, and Williams is the 89th district in the state to join.

Savage said Williams has used curriculum calendars in the past, but the one they are using is outdated.

"It's going to finally get us away from the textbooks as being the sole resource in the classroom," she said. "So basically we have our textbooks, but it may or may not be the order that is best for teaching things, it's just the order that the publisher put them in."

The Beyond Textbooks curriculum calendar is aligned to the new Common Core math and reading standards for grades kindergarten through 12. It is updated on a daily basis.

"So (teachers) won't have to necessarily spend any more time on the what," Savage said. "All they're going to have to really focus on is the how and allow their creativity and personal interpretation to come into play."

The program also allows teachers to access about 25,000 teaching resources online.

The program costs $3,000 in year one for the basic annual administrative fee, $1,500 per training session, and $9 per student.

"It's a way for us smaller rural districts without a lot of extra human resource to be able to tap into this work that is updated and vetted constantly," Savage said.

Fit Kids expansion

The board also approved a middle school expansion of the Fit Kids of Arizona program, which provides daily physical activity and health education for Williams Elementary students.

Last year, WUSD approved an agreement with Flagstaff Medical Center (FMC) for the hospital to pay for two full time Fit Kids instructors with benefits. In the elementary level program, students participate in 20 minutes of physical activity and 20 minutes of nutrition education each day. The program does not take the place of a regular physical education class. The Fit Kids partnership was expected to last for three to five years.

For the upcoming school year, FMC has agreed to pay for another full time instructor to teach the Fit Kids class as an elective for grades six through eight. The district is looking for either a certified teacher or a paraprofessional to teach the course.

"This is just a tremendous opportunity for us," Savage said of the expansion.

Spring break travel

The governing board also approved the promotion of a trip to Europe next year during spring break.

This year, a group of six students and three chaperones traveled to Costa Rica during spring break, which generated interest in future trips. The students raised money and used tax credit donations to pay for the trip.

Savage said the board's approval was just a preliminary step.

"Once we have a trip, we have students, we have chaperones then that will come back to you for approval, but I don't like to begin promoting an out of country trip without the board vetting that purpose in the first place," she said.

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