Rhode Island teachers and others who want to know what good instruction looks like have a new resource: a Web-based archive of lesson plans, student work, and videos of effective teaching—all aligned with the state’s academic expectations for students.
Use of the materials isn’t mandated, even though they are billed as Rhode Island’s first statewide curriculum. Nor does the site include the “scope and sequence” typical of district curricula, which generally say what to cover and in what order.
Instead, the online tool is meant to offer ideas on how to take the state’s academic standards and turn them into classroom instruction, said Diane Schaefer, the director of instruction at the Rhode Island education department.
“It’s not a curriculum in the sense that it’s telling you what to do at this particular date and time, but it’s telling you how to think about the process of teaching and learning,” she said. “We didn’t want to say, ‘Take this and teach to it’; this is for a dialogue.”
The materials are organized by grade level, and they tell how they address specific state standards. One, for example, shows how 1st graders can learn to recount key points of a story in an exercise called the Retell Dance.
State education officials began work on the Web tool two years ago, after Gov. Donald L. Carcieri, a Republican, succeeded in pushing legislation calling for a voluntary state curriculum. High school students shot much of the accompanying video.
Now covering mathematics and English/language arts, the site soon will add science, civics, and history. Found at www.ride.ri.gov/instruction/curriculum, it is open to all, and includes ideas on how parents, business leaders, and community groups also can use the tool.
A version of this article appeared in the April 11, 2007 edition of Education Week