Curriculum WordleAmy Wells
Director of Curriculum and Staff Development

The OCS P-12 Curriculum strives to meet the district vision for students by engaging students in relevant, rigorous, and engaging learning opportunities designed to promote long-term transfer and application to the life after school.

Using the Kentucky Core Academic Standards (KCAS) as the minimum required standards for students, the OCS P-12 curriculum outlines not merely what we want students to know and be able to do, but what we want students to understand and transfer. 

The curriculum design process utilized to address what is to be learned follows Understanding by Design (UbD) tenants.  

UbD is based on eight key tenants:

  1. UbD is a way of thinking purposefully about curricular planning, not a rigid program or prescriptive recipe.
  2. A primary goal of UbD is developing and deepening student understanding—the ability to make meaning of learning via “big ideas” and to transfer learning. 
  3. UbD unpacks and transforms content standards and mission-related goals into relevant Stage 1 elements and appropriate assessment in Stage 2. 
  4. Understanding is revealed when students autonomously make sense of and transfer their learning through authentic performance.  Six facets of understanding—the capacities to explain, interpret, apply, shift perspective, empathize, and self-assess—serve as indicators of understanding. 
  5. Effective curriculum is planned “backward” from long-term desired results.  This process helps to avoid the twin problems of “textbook coverage” and “activity-oriented teaching” in which no clear priorities and purposes are apparent.  
  6. Teachers are coaches of understanding, not mere purveyors of content or activity.  The focus on ensuring learning, not just teaching; they always aim—and check—for successful meaning-making and transfer by the learner. 
  7. Regular reviews of units and curriculum against design standards enhance curricular quality and effectiveness. 
  8. UbD reflects a continuous improvement approach to achievement.  The results of our design—student performance—inform needed adjustments in curriculum as well as instruction.

OCS Mission Statement for English Language Arts Instruction:  The OCS K-12 English Language Arts program strives to meet the district mission by creating literate, thoughtful communicators who are capable of participating actively and successfully in today’s demanding, information-based, media and technology-rich society and who understand the power of the spoken and written word to inspire, to inform, and to influence.

OCS Mission Statement for Mathematics Instruction:  The OCS K-12 mathematics program strives to meet the district mission by creating independent problem-solvers and critical thinkers who communicate effectively using the language of mathematics and who employ the power of technology to investigate and solve problems.

OCS Mission Statement for Science Instruction:  Science is a systematic process for acquiring the knowledge, skills, and understandings essential for comprehending the natural world.  The very nature of science equips students to embrace struggle, persevere through setbacks, and develop as independent, critical thinkers.  Science is not simply the reading of information and the execution of procedures in a lab; rather, it requires innovative thinking through the investigation of concepts and the implementation of engineering design. Students will understand the critical relationship between claims and evidence as they develop into active citizens of science in the 21st century who fully engage in the scientific and engineering processes.

English Language Arts is a complex discipline, comprised of various strands which must be woven together in order for students to deepen understanding, communicate meaning, and apply learning to other contexts. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are intrinsically connected and must be skillfully woven together to enable students to become independent thinkers and communicators. Being literate involves more than being adept at isolated grammar exercises, spelling proficiently, comprehending fictional texts, or writing formulaic essays. A literate individual is capable of employing various strategies to read and understand any text, discerning the meaning and message intended by the author. He or she understands that the type of language used, as well as the way in which the message is crafted and delivered, is a deliberate choice of the author, intended to influence or inform the reader. In turn, the literate individual considers and uses these same strategies in his or her communication with others. Being literate also involves understanding that the complexity of the world and the human experience is captured and explored through literature and language in all cultures. The literate individual values multiple perspectives; reflecting upon the commonalities, differences, and implications.

The OCS English Language Arts K-12 curriculum reflects these beliefs and strives to build independent and literate students who have the knowledge of when and how to apply disciplinary concepts, as well as and understanding of why these concepts work. The OCS English Language Arts curriculum focuses on preparing students to apply their understandings, knowledge, and skills through an emphasis on performance-based tasks, which demand critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and innovation, use of technology, and communication skills.

Units in the OCS English Language Arts K-12 curriculum are integrated. No one process (reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing) is taught in isolation; no content (i.e., literature and language) is taught in isolation. While the approach of the unit is thematic, the emphasis is not on the theme itself. Rather, the theme serves as a vehicle to spur student interest and engagement. Students are exposed to the following aspects of communication, texts, and language:

Reading and Listening—Effective readers and listeners use strategies before, during, and after reading or listening to construct and extend meaning according to the text and purpose. They access background knowledge, survey structure, predict, question, summarize, clarify, visualize, draw conclusions, validate perceptions, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate. In English Language Arts classes, students develop and apply these strategies to a variety of increasingly challenging and complex literary and informational texts.

Viewing—Effective viewers approach visual texts in much the same way they approach written or spoken texts. In English Language Arts, students actively view visual texts by applying and refining strategies they use when reading and listening and learn new concepts specific to understanding visual media.

Writing and Speaking—Effective communicators are aware of the essential elements of powerful writing and speaking—ideas and development, organization, diction, syntax, voice, and language conventions. They use their knowledge of the nature, organization, and structure of language to improve as writers and speakers. Effective writers employ a recursive process that includes pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. In English Language Arts, students apply their understanding of language and the writing process to develop organized and coherent responses to literature, synthesize information, develop arguments for a variety of purposes, describe situations or events, and express their personal ideas.

Literature—Effective readers realize that universal human experiences often serve as sources of literary themes. Readers also understand that authors make conscious decisions to affect an audience. In English Language Arts, students read, listen to, and view traditional and contemporary works to examine how authors, poets, play wrights, speakers, and directors use language, literary elements, and genres to provide their audiences with new insights and perspectives.

Language—Effective communicators are aware of the rules that govern language, grammar, syntax, and organization, and they understand the power of word choice and semantics. In English Language Arts, students use their knowledge of language to improve as communicators and to analyze the textual decisions authors make to influence voice, tone, and meaning. In order to achieve our vision for students in the English Language Arts Curriculum, instructional practices must align with our beliefs and desired goals. Therefore, the OCS English Language Arts curriculum is best delivered in a classroom that…

•has an established culture that promotes collaboration and encourages intellectual risk-taking;

•provides experiences for students to construct and produce their own meaning;

•encourages critical thinking, metacognition, and reflection;

•includes a wide variety of texts, both assigned and student-selected, representing diverse cultures and a range of difficulty;

•offers frequent opportunities for close, critical reading analysis and discussion;

•provides opportunities to publish, share, and respond to text;

•incorporates grammar and vocabulary study in the context of writing and literature study; and

•nurtures appreciation and understanding of diverse individuals, groups, and cultures.

Reference: Montgomery County Schools, Maryland

Mathematics is a discipline grounded in critical thinking and reasoning. Mathematics is not simply the recalling of facts and the performance of memorized procedures. It is a way of thinking and applying problem-solving skills. Doing mathematics involves recognizing problematic aspects of situations, devising and carrying out strategies, evaluating the reasonableness of solutions, and justifying methods, and solutions. The very nature of mathematics demands that students explore, investigate, analyze, evaluate, interpret, derive, reflect and validate.

The OCS math curriculum reflects these beliefs and strives to build independent mathematically literate students who have the knowledge of when and how to apply mathematical concepts as well as an understanding of why mathematical processes work. The OCS math curriculum focuses on preparing students to apply their understanding, knowledge and skills through an emphasis on performance-based tasks, which demand critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity and innovation, use of technology and communication skills.

The OCS P-12 Science curriculum ensures the learning of every student through scientific inquiry and classroom experiences focused on the real world of science, technology, and engineering.

Unifying Beliefs of Science:

In grades P-12 science curriculum and instruction should be inquiry-based and all students should have access to consistent instruction in science at every grade level.  We believe science curriculum and instruction are most meaningful when:

•Students recognize the relevance of science as it connects to the real world

•Students understand how scientific knowledge is constructed through inquiry

•Concepts are taught in depth

•Students are taught to think critically

•Curriculum is based on standards

•Instruction is guided by best practices and credible research

•Students participate and engage in a scientific community

•Students test and revise ideas and refine solutions.