Kannapolis teachers working during summer to address new state standards
By Sarah Campbell
KANNAPOLIS — Some teachers in the Kannapolis City school system are spending part of their summer making plans for the upcoming school year.
On Monday, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Debra Morris told the Board of Education that educators from every school have come together to create curriculum planning guides that are aligned with the new state standards set to take affect this fall.
“I didn’t know how it was going to be when we put kindergarten through 12th grade teachers together, but it’s been great,” she said. “So many different levels of expertise and experience combine to create a rich curriculum.”
The common core and essential standards move toward more complex thinking by using in-depth and rigorous curriculum with a focus on problem solving.
Planning guides for math and English/language arts are complete. Teachers will wrap up guides for science, social studies, exceptional children and fine arts before school resumes.
Morris said teachers are combing through the new standards to make sure every one of them is met.
“Our students are going to be assessed on these standards, so we want to be sure there are no gaps,” she said. “It’s a tedious job, but I’ve never heard such great conversations in my life as watching these teachers work together.”
Board Chairwoman Danita Rickard said the planning guides are a big step in the right direction.
“I’m impressed,” she said. “I imagine this is also going to allow teachers to have a little more autonomy than they’ve had in the past.”
Morris said teachers applied to take part in the planning process, which spans a week for each subject area.
“It’s hard work, but they’re enjoying the hard work,” she said. “I’m so proud of what they’re doing.”
Teachers who participate in the planning process will take the information they’ve acquired and report back to their respective schools to help get everyone up to speed before classes begin.
Morris said the guides will still allow teachers the flexibility to design their own curriculum.
“We’re not telling them you have to teach this or use this resource, we are gathering a sampling of resources they can choose to use to address the standards,” she said.
The planning guides will be uploaded to a Wiki site made accessible to all teachers.
Morris said the guides will continue to be tweaked throughout the year.
“This is a work in progress, not the final product,” she said.
The school system spent much of last year providing professional development to teachers in preparation for the switch to the new standards.
Federal Race to the Top dollars have been used to hire substitutes if teachers had to be out of class and pick up travel bills for out-of-district training.
Morris said the summer sessions have tied all that training together.
“I’ve had so many teachers say, ‘Thank you for giving us this time to plan and work through this. I can’t imagine coming in next year not having he opportunity to work together,’ ” she said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.