Monday, August 25, 2014

Blended Schools Update

2014 FALL CURRICULUM NEWSLETTER
During the summer months, our assessment specialists upgraded our courses. We hired these educators from member school districts and trained them in best practices for assessment design. They also added student learning objectives, unit pre-tests and new course challenges.

 
STUDENT LEARNING OBJECTIVES
More states are adopting student learning objectives (SLO's) to improve student achievement in the classroom, and Blended Schools is here to help. We are adding student learning objectives to our course maps. These will appear at the unit level in our master curriculum maps and in the new unit introduction files in our master courses and in our Marketplace.

 
PRE-TESTS AND SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENTS
Our new vocabulary and content pre-tests will give teachers a baseline of data. Based on this data, teachers can add content for remediation, allow students to skip content they have mastered or change the scope of content covered. This will ensure that every minute of instruction moves students toward a high level of academic growth.  Our specialists will ensure our assessments are appropriate measures of student growth and teacher effectiveness. 

 
NEW COURSE CHALLENGE
Each of our courses will now include a new course challenge.  This authentic assessment provides further opportunities for students to show growth. Students can tackle the challenge as a capstone problem-based learning experience, or the teacher can weave the experience throughout the course.  This new feature guides students through solving an authentic problem tied to what they are learning. The students determine solutions and defend them with research and facts.

 
MORE EMPHASIS ON VOCABULARY
In addition to the assessment upgrades, we have added a full page devoted to concept vocabulary in each lesson package.  Each lesson includes flashcards introducing the new terms, and it directs students to maintain a vocabulary notebook. We base these practices on research from the Marzano Institute, National Reading Panel and others.  Students can maintain the journal off-line in a hard copy notebook or a running word document with the template provided.  We designed this notebook as a study aid for students, not as an assessment, but the teacher can elect to grade it.

 
RETIRED COURSES
Please remember that courses retired longer than one year are no longer supported by Blended Schools. You may continue using these courses, but please be aware that these courses include videos from the old BSNtube that will not function as of October 2014.  If you need help figuring out if we've retired your course, please contact our helpdesk at help@blendedschools.net. When you do, please include your course id.
 
You can find a list of these courses at this link: http://publish.smartsheet.com/57ea2f5eb7bd41069395c1135bbd3494
 

 
TIMELINE
We will complete most of these improvements by the end of August, so please consider copying a new master course to start the school year. If a 3.2 version of part A of a course is released, part B will be available within the next 30-60 days. Even if part B of your course is not yet available, go ahead and copy the 3.2 version right away. When looking for the most recent course id to copy, please use the Course Catalog on our website: