Curriculum and Instruction

Curriculum and Instruction

The Greenwich Township School District curricula is aligned with the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics and with the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards for 21st Century Life and Careers, Comprehensive Health and Physical Education, Science, Social Studies, Technology, Visual and Performing Arts, and World Languages.

Our teachers employ the principals of Differentiated Instruction and the Schoolwide Enrichment Model to present curricular concepts.  Teachers design instruction focusing on essential questions that assist in the development of lessons designed to meet the individual needs of students while encouraging problem-solving behaviors.  Teachers proactively plan varied approaches to what students need to learn (content), how students will learn (process) and how students will express what they have learned (product).

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics

The New Jersey State Board of Education and the New Jersey Department of Education adopted the CCSS for English Language Arts and Mathematics in June 2010.  Districts were instructed to fully align English Language Arts and Mathematics curricula, programs, and practices with the CCSS no later than September 2013.   In response to this directive we have aligned district curricula, revised teaching practices, infused technology into ongoing classroom activities, upgraded our technology infrastructure and hardware, and implemented programs to support our students as we meet the requirements of the CCSS.

The adoption of the CCSS signifies a profound shift in the teaching of English Language Arts (writing, reading, listening and speaking) and Mathematics.  Lessons will focus on the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills that enable students to become independent thinkers who can create informed opinions, critique the opinions of their peers and their world, defend their arguments with evidence, and communicate their points of view effectively.  Students will be required to reason out the best answer on tests rather than memorize the “correct” answer.

Critical Shifts in English Language Arts

    • Children will read more non-fiction in each grade level. Reading assignments will be based on real-life events, such as biographies, articles and historical stories.  Children will discuss the details of non-fiction books and understand how non-fiction is written and prepared.
      • Parents can read non-fiction books with their children and provide more non-fiction books for them to read and enjoy.
    • Children will read more non-fiction texts to help them learn about the world through reading. They will learn more about Science and Social Studies through reading fact-based books and they will use “primary source” documents.
      • Parents can provide grade-level appropriate non-fiction books that explain how things work and why. They can also provide non-fiction books on topics that interest their children and then engage in book discussions with them.
    • Children will read challenging texts very closely so they can make sense of what they read and draw their own conclusions. Children will be required to re-read until they understand.  They will be required to read books at and above their comfort levels, handle frustration and persevere to improve.
      • Parents can provide challenging texts as well as books their children can easily read. They can read challenging books with their children and show them how to dig deeper into difficult pieces and show them that challenging books are worth reading.
    • Children will use “evidence” gathered from the text to support what they say. Written assignments will require children to draw on concrete examples from the text that serve as evidence.    Children will support their arguments with evidence and form judgments and opinions.  They will discuss what the author is thinking with their teachers and make predictions about what will happen next.
      • Parents can ask their children to provide evidence in everyday discussions and disagreements. They can read aloud or read the same book as their children and engage in discussions about the book.
    • Children will learn how to write from what they read. Written assignments will require children to make arguments in writing using evidence and they will compare multiple texts in writing.
      • Parents can encourage writing at home. They can write with their children using evidence and details.
    • Children will have an increased academic vocabulary. Students will begin to learn words they will need in college and career and they will get smarter at using the “language of power”.
      • Parents can read often and constantly with young children utilizing multiple books on the same topic.

Critical Shifts in Mathematics

    • Children will work more deeply in fewer topics which will ensure full understanding. Assignments will require students to show their work and explain how they arrived at an answer.
      • Parents can become familiar with grade-level concepts and spend time working on those concepts with their children.
    • Children will keep building on learning year after year. Assignments will build on one another. For example, students will focus on adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.  Once these areas are mastered, they will focus on fractions.  Building on that, they will then focus on Algebra.
      • Parents can be aware of which concepts their children struggled with last year and support them to overcome those deficits.
    • Children will spend time practicing and memorizing math facts. Teachers will ask students to master math facts such as addition groupings up to 20 or multiplication tables.  Because children will spend time on fewer concepts they will develop a deeper understanding.
      • Parents can help their children know and memorize math facts. They can ask their children to “do the math” that pops up in daily life.
    • Children will understand why the math works and be asked to talk about and prove their understanding. Teachers will require children to show or explain their mathematical thinking and to SAY why they think their answer is correct.
      • Parents can talk to their children about their math homework. They can ask their children to teach them new concepts.  Parents can also help their children figure out ways to explain their thinking.
    • Children will be asked to use math in real-world situations. Math assignments will be based on the real world.  For instance, homework for 5th graders might include adding fractions as part of a dessert recipe or determining how much pizza friends ate based on fractions.
      • Parents can provide time every day for their children to work on math at home.