Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
The Curriculum Office fax number is 610-834-7535
Dr. Elizabeth McKeaney, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, (E-Mail) - ext. 2155
Sergio Anaya, Curriculum Supervisor, (E-Mail) - ext. 2164
Maria Bellino, Curriculum Supervisor (E-Mail) - ext. 2149
Donna Gaffney, Curriculum Supervisor (E-Mail) - ext. 2144
Kathleen Hamill, Curriculum Supervisor (E-Mail) - ext. 2225
The ever-evolving curriculum in the Colonial School District is aligned with state and national standards while at the same time employing differentiating instruction to address the individual needs of all students. State of the art computer hardware and software is used to supplement instruction on all grade levels.
At the elementary level, the district goal is to provide students with a solid foundation for lifelong learning, and to foster positive interpersonal relationships, within a safe and nurturing environment. Teachers employ "best instructional practices" in their teaching methodologies and all students receive instruction in Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and Health. Additionally, all elementary students receive instruction in the specialist areas of Art, Music, Physical Education, Library Science and Guidance by a certified specialist teacher on a weekly basis. Elementary students in the K-3 buildings have technology as part of their specialist rotation. Students are taught basic computer skills through activities aligned with grade level curriculums. The computer skills are based on the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS).
Elementary teachers in the district employ a Balanced Literacy Program which is a comprehensive approach that focuses on three major areas: reading, writing, and "word study."
Each area is taught using "multiple" approaches that have been shown to improve students' achievement levels.
The components of the reading approach are: reading aloud to children, reading with children, and independent reading by children.
The "word study" component emphasizes phonics and spelling every day. Students must become word solvers who understand that sounds are represented by letters and letter clusters that make spelling patterns.
The writing component focuses on a writer's workshop model which includes teachers modeling writing techniques for and with students, composing text together and supporting students' writing through conferences.
The writing curriculum is aligned with state standards, which require students to demonstrate accomplishment in three types of writing - narrative, informational and persuasive. Each of these writing types is defined by a distinct set of criteria. The five characteristics - focus, content, organization, style and conventions - have been deemed significant to any piece of writing. The philosophy of the writing and spelling curriculum is to facilitate effective written communication for a variety of purposes and audiences.
In mathematics, a standards-based curriculum map has been established for grades K-8. The map is a planning model that provides a broad sketch of the curriculum for each grade level. It includes the context and content for instruction, encompassing a set of student expectations that is designed to support teachers in creating a spiraling curriculum. It reinforces knowledge and skills learned as the students move from one grade level to the next.
The curriculum map has provided a foundation for creating curriculum units that include the standards category, content focus, student tasks, instructional strategies assessment, process standards, adaptations and extensions, technology, and resources to support student learning.
Content area subjects such as social studies and science identify essential learnings to allow a seamless flow of instruction from one grade level to the next. Integrated units are implemented at the elementary levels.
The educational program at Colonial Middle School is founded upon the fusion of the "whole child" concept of the elementary school with emphasis on achievement in subject matter areas inherent in the secondary schools. Operationally, this fusion is best expressed through the teaming of teachers and students, an interdisciplinary curriculum, and appropriate support systems for teaching and learning.
The model of team teaching - a smaller "school within a school" concept that provides an atmosphere of family. Students belong to a core team consisting of three or four teachers and 75 to 115 students around which the instructional day is planned. Each team of teachers is given the primary responsibility to both educate and to mentor those students to whom they are responsible. Through the team process, instruction also is integrated to give added meaning and context to the knowledge and skills that are learned in the individual classes. The team organizational plan allows for closer communication with individual students and their parents during common team meetings.
The standards-based Language Arts program at the middle school provides students with a diverse mix of familiar classics and contemporary pieces. The collection of poems, short stories and non-fiction are used to help students build literacy, reading, writing, and vocabulary skills. Opportunities for remediation are offered throughout the program. Additionally, students have opportunities within the school day to read core novels and self-selected novels at each grade level.
The specialized subjects, which are offered to all students, provide additional opportunities for students to achieve success. Students benefit each year from instruction in physical education, health, visual arts, music, technology education and family and consumer science. Other subjects taught at varied levels are reading, foreign language, study skills, computer keyboarding, and library utilization skills. The latter three, study skills, keyboarding and library media research, are indicative of programs that are constantly integrated into the instructional process. The school's computer laboratories are utilized heavily to support learning across all subjects and grades.
In addition to the formalized structure of the school, there are numerous instructional and other support services that are provided by the professional staff. The daily activity period allows students to explore many interests and meet many needs. Students can receive tutoring services or participate in enrichment activities.
Plymouth Whitemarsh High School (PWHS) has a long history of providing outstanding academic, vocational, co-curricular and extra-curricular programs for students. PWHS utilizes block scheduling, which provides four 80-minute periods per day in which students can interact more closely with teachers. An additional 30-minute resource period is included which students/teachers can utilize to address individual academic needs.
The intended goals of utilizing a block schedule are as follows: acceleration in content areas; expansion of opportunity to participate in interdisciplinary learning; enhancement of assessments that permit students to apply learning; enrollment in a broader range of courses.
The program of studies provides opportunities that fall well beyond the core curriculum to include experience in the arts, business, science, social sciences, consumer science, foreign language, technology and physical education. Unique to the high school is state of the art science and foreign language laboratories as well as a television production studio. Students may be further challenged through the selection of Advanced Placement and honors courses across content areas. A current program of studies guide is available through the guidance office at PWHS.
Students also have the option to attend the Center for Technical Studies (CTS). CTS provides programs in service industries, culinary arts and restaurant practices, protective services and security, communications, electronic technology, printing and graphic arts, automotive industry, construction industry, and specialized college preparatory programs designed to prepare students to enter specific programs of study.