The Universal Templates were developed by the Elementary Division of Curriculum and Instruction and teachers to increase the focus on standards and rigor of the Open Court program. The purpose is to facilitate students’ making connections with text, engaging with the text through discussion and writing, using academic vocabulary, and preparing for the California Standards Test. Lessons were created from each Open Court story in grades 2-5 (and beginning at Unit 7 in 1st grade) that address the standards that will be tested. Not every story covers every standard so it is not necessary to teach every part of every story. Teachers focus on the parts of the lessons that focus on the key standards. There are adapted release questions attached to each story. At the end of each story, teachers review the released questions.
Response to Intervention (RTI) is a multi-step approach to providing services to struggling students. Teachers provide instruction and interventions to them at increasing levels of intensity. They also monitor the progress students make at each intervention level and use the assessment results to decide whether the students need additional instruction or intervention in general education or referral to special education.
RTI models have several components in common: RTI uses tiers of intervention for struggling students, relies on research based instruction and interventions, uses problem-solving to determine interventions for students, and monitors students regularly to determine if they are progressing as they should academically and/or behaviorally.
In 2009/10, Dr. Mike Vanderwood and Dr. Cat Geraghty began training four pilot elementary schools on RTI. During the 2010-11 school year, ten additional pilot schools were added. In the 2011-12 school year, 10 more schools will be trained in implementing Response to Intervention and Aimsweb for on-going diagnostic assessment.
Thinking Maps are visual teaching tools that foster and encourage lifelong learning. They are based on a simple yet profound insight: The one common instructional thread that binds together all teachers, from pre-kindergarten through postgraduate, is that they all teach the same thought processes. Based on thorough and well-accepted academic study and brain research, the eight Thinking Map tools correspond with eight fundamental thinking processes. In the summer of 2010, a large group of teachers began a week-long training on Thinking Maps using the “trainer-of-trainer” model. Those teachers implemented the maps throughout the summer and then began training other teachers at the beginning of the 2010-11 school year. Additional “trainer-of-trainer” sessions have occurred and the implementation of Thinking Maps have been impressive. On-going training is on- going through Curriculum and Instruction occurred throughout the year and during the summer of 2011.
Thinking Maps training has been on-going for leadership as well.