Hello Falcon Families,
During this week's focus, I'd like to spend some time discussing Beyond Textbooks and the importance of communication. Last year we rolled out our commitment to providing our students a rigorous, standards-based curriculum that will prepare them for high school and beyond. To that end, we partnered with Vail Unified School District and introduced Beyond Textbooks (BT) to our staff, students, and parents. After a year of working with Beyond Textbooks (BT) we have learned several valuable lessons and adjusted our implementation to meet the needs of our students.
Before I discuss some of the new techniques we are implementing this year, I want to reiterate that Beyond Textbooks is
a program, nor does it replace our textbooks. What Beyond Textbooks does for us is help focus our energies on the critical standards and provide us with exemplars of what a student, who is "proficient" on a given standard, can actually do/accomplish/demonstrate.
This year we are continuing to roll-out new supplemental materials to support the learning of our students. We are also spending more time reviewing the "unwrapped documents" prior to lessons and with our students. These "unwrapped documents" breakdown the standards into smaller, more focused chunks to help both the teacher and students get to the root of the expected learning. Additionally, we are focusing more on the "formative" assessments as a means of guiding our instruction and increasing the rigor of lessons for all students. Finally, we are continuing to refine our methods of conducting "Reteach and Enrichment" opportunities for our students. By refining the "Reteach and Enrich" structure of Beyond Textbook, we no longer just move on if a student does not understand the material during the first go around...instead we offer opportunities for students to enhance their learning and retest on the standards they struggle with. Basically, we have changed the message to: "We will not allow you to fail." On the flip side, if a student masters a standard quickly, we are developing opportunities for those students to receive enrichment in the standard (e.g., deeper understanding/application, not "more" work). It is equally important for us to challenge our students to push themselves beyond the minimum expectations.
If you have any questions about Beyond Textbooks, please do not hesitate to ask.
As demonstrated above, accurate and timely communication is vital to the success of our students and critical in avoiding misunderstandings. I have always believed that a strong line of communication between the teacher and parents/guardians is invaluable and that 90% of perceived issues can be resolved with a simple phone call. This communication requires a commitment from both the teacher and the parents/guardians. Please do not wait until there is a problem to reach out to your child's teacher(s). If your child is struggling in a class or shares something that seems "off" to you, reach out to the teacher. More often than not, the teacher can offer insight into the issue that will help your student find greater success in the class and/or can offer "context" that will help ease your concern. Remember, the first call you should make is always to the teacher. While I am always available to help resolve situations, I find that I do not need to intervene if the conversation starts with the parent and the teacher first.
Have a great weekend!
James Carrick - Principal