WALLINGFORD — The Board of Education approved several curriculum changes this week, including new music units and revised middle school gym units.
Members of the school district’s curriculum leadership team presented the information to the board.
The board on Monday approved making the high school-level Italian 4 class an AP course.
Kim Moore, global communications coordinator, said that the world language course is honors-level currently, and “already an extremely rigorous course.”
Students wouldn’t be required to take the AP exam, but making it an AP course would be “giving credit where credit is due for the students who do want to sit for the exam,” she said.
The board approved three new units of music each for grades K-3, instrumental music units for grades 4-5, band, choral and strings units for grade 6 and band, art foundations and art photography at the high schools.
Jim Francese, humanities coordinator, said that although students start taking music in the elementary program, they don’t develop expertise until later on.
“The need for multiple options for courses is strong at the middle school level,” he said.
The board also approved new social studies units for grade 4 in United States climate, peoples and culture by geographical region.
The board approved revised middle school physical education units.
Tony Loomis, wellness coordinator, said that the units were rewritten to focus on transferable skills and concepts, and game tactics that will work with a team sport or an individual activity.
“The whole idea is to get kids motivated and inspired to find something they enjoy,” he said. “We have a major emphasis also on fitness.”
The board approved revised high school psychology units.
Francese said that the course has been “much looser in terms of how it was taught” and that the curriculum “was very outdated.”
He anticipates staff will make further revisions as they implement the new units.
The board approved revised phonics, word study overview and word study scope and sequence curriculum for grades 4-5.
Carrie Laudadio, English language arts coordinator, said that the curriculum builds off of what’s currently in the English language arts units for word study.
“In grades 4 and 5, it becomes more of word study than just straight phonics,” she said, which includes spelling, vocabulary and high-frequency words.
The board approved a revised middle school English language arts unit, “Launching the Reading Workshop,” a continuation of the elementary level program.
“It's really an introductory unit for teachers to set the stage for students on what the expectations (and) routines in a workshop classroom are,” she said, such as how to have a productive book discussion.
Revised graduation standards
Francese presented information on revised art and music graduation standards and performance indicators.
As optional courses not required for graduation, Francese said, kids may never take art or music, so developing graduation standards meant focusing on “less is more.”
“Instead of trying to do everything,” he said, “focus on what you’re doing and do it well, make it manageable for students as well as (teachers).”
Added English books
The board approved adding two books to the high school English curriculum, “Ordinary People” by Judith Guest in grade 9 and “The Grass Dancer” by Susan Power in grade 12.
Laudadio said that the sensitive topics included in “Ordinary People,” particularly suicide, are included in the description sent home to parents.
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