The Rochester Curriculum is a web-based tool that provides a guide for instruction and a forum for teacher collaboration, fully accessible to all Rochester educators. This is the first time we have had a tool like this in the district. It allows easy access to long-range plans, teaching lessons, assessments, and resources districtwide—all based on a common set of goals and expectations for student learning.
One key outcome of this effort is that all students will be working on the same concepts and understandings at the same time throughout the entire district, an idea that is long overdue. It marks a shift in paradigm as we move from a fragmented curriculum, driven by an assortment of ever-changing textbooks which vary from school to school, to an aligned curriculum which is student-centered and theme-based. Significantly, this framework was developed not by textbook publishers but by the classroom teachers who know our students and who teach these subjects in our district.
The Rochester Curriculum supports and extends professional collegiality, reducing teacher isolation. All teachers are able to provide feedback on the curriculum and share lesson plans that have been successful. They have an online venue for sharing best teaching practices with their colleagues across the district. This has the potential to truly impact student achievement.
Members of the Rochester Curriculum team strive to identify instructional strategies and resources that can be used to improve delivery of a content-rich curriculum. The curriculum describes what to teach, not how to teach. It sets a higher level of rigor for all students, but does not detract from the art of teaching. It is a map that lays out concepts that all students must be taught, in a logical order, leaving teachers the freedom to determine how best to meet the needs of their individual students. Teachers using this as a resource can easily modify lesson plans to customize instruction so it is specific to their own students while capitalizing on their individual strengths and talents as teachers.
In bringing these elements together, the team also explored the essential connections between assessment and instruction. In addition to the Rochester Curriculum, a series of benchmark tests were created that are tightly aligned to NYS standards. These standardized assessments of student learning will provide crucial feedback necessary to ensure that “no child is left behind.” Assessments will be administered four times during the school year, allowing teachers to monitor student learning and adjust instruction accordingly.
Inquiry-based teaching and professional learning communities will be the driving force as Rochester's teachers and administrators begin to experience the power of this collective effort first hand. We know that we must forge a way for our students to develop the essential skills necessary to be critical thinkers, who are active readers, writers, listeners and speakers, and who embody responsible citizenship.
To access the Rochester Curriculum: Teacher Log-In, click here