The State Board of Education has approved a model curriculum for Iowa high schools that’s designed to help administrators and teachers transform courses so students learn “essential” skills. Pam Pfitzenmaier, administrator of the Iowa Department of Education’s pre-school through 12th grade division, served on the committee that developed the curriculum over the past six months.
“It doesn’t say which courses these skills and content items need to be found in but certainly the new requirements for graduation that the legislature established this year — of four years of English, three years of science, three years of social studies (and) three years of mathematics — the model core curriculum can weave into those courses,” Pfitzemnmaier says.
It’s not a daily lesson plan, but is a list of ideas or skills that students should master. “It gives to a school district…the things that ‘thou must cover’ in our opinion, now this isn’t required that they do it but in the opinion of the task force…these are the essential pieces that students should know and be able to do when they graduate,” she says.
The task force was made up of teachers, students, administrators, college professors and business leaders. Pfitzenmaier says the idea is to ensure students leave high school equipped with the skills they’ll need in college and the world world, especially the ability to think critically.
There are sample lesson plans in the packet developed by the task force which Pfitzenmaier says will “help teachers see how they can improve both rigor, relevance and the relationships the students can have with each other and the school.”
For example, the task force says high school science courses should encourage students to question and explore and math classes should give students a deeper understanding of basic concepts like algebra, geometry and problem solving. You can see the document the task force created on-line at http://www.iowa.gov/educate/ecese/hsmcc/documents.html.
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Board of Education model curriculum