Update on the Development of the Physics in the Universe Curriculum
On Jan. 23, 2020, a group composed of science teachers, the department chairs for science, the assistant principal for curriculum and instruction from Hinsdale South, the principals for Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South, and district-level administrators provided the board with an update on the district's science sequence, including the work being done in conjunction with the development of the Physics in the Universe curriculum. This update included the following:
- Details from Principal Bill Walsh about the curriculum, instruction and assessment audit of the science program at Central that was performed in October 2018 by the Consortium for Educational Change (CEC). This audit included, but was not limited to, a review of curriculum and curriculum maps, as well as interviews with science teachers, students and parents/guardians. The CEC provided Central with a report of its findings in November 2018, which included feedback on the strengths and opportunities for growth in the areas of curriculum, assessment, instruction and support. The report also featured next steps that included: "review and revise course curricular and instructional alignment to the NGSS standards to increase student engagement, differentiation, and interest in science; develop common expectations and assessments for students within a course; and develop a communication plan to engage parents and students in the science programming, expectations and support options."
- Information from Dominick Maniscalco, the district's chief human resources officer, regarding the conversation about curriculum equity that took place during the board meeting on Jan. 7, 2019. Maniscalco stated that the focus of the presentation and discussion that evening was not the curriculum, but rather the leadership structure for completing the curriculum work going forward. He stated that the information shared during the meeting was produced by the department chairs for all subjects, including science, in approximately 10 days. He also stated that the chairs did not receive any assistance from teachers, assistant principals, principals, students, parents/guardians or community members when pulling together the information. He said the task was strictly meant to help the district determine staffing for the curriculum work.
- Comments from Tammy Prentiss about her transition into the superintendent's role in the spring of 2019. In her comments, Superintendent Prentiss talked about the decision that was made following her appointment to restart the curriculum alignment work. This was done to connect the work more closely and directly with the district's strategic plan, and ensure it would be led by the experts in the subject areas (i.e., the teachers and department chairs).
- Information about the collaborative process involving students, teachers and parents/guardians that the district is using to conduct the curriculum alignment work.
- An overview of the structure that is being used to support the curriculum-building process.
- The general responsibilities of the Physics in the Universe curriculum development and writing teams, as well as the names of the individuals serving on those teams.
- The dates of the curriculum meetings that have already been held, or are scheduled to take place prior to the end of the school year.
- Course descriptions for Physics: Physics in the Universe and Physics Honors: Physics in the Universe.
- Information about how Physics in the Universe is linked to and aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and College Board.
- An example of a template for a science unit.
- Examples of how Earth and Space Science will be integrated throughout the science sequence.
- Examples of objectives for Physics: Physics in the Universe and Physics Honors: Physics in the Universe.
- Next steps regarding the work on Physics in the Universe, collaboration with the math department, review and re-evaluation of elective offerings in physics, and formation of the curriculum development and writing teams for Chemistry: Chemistry of Earth Systems.
- Recap of the goals that helped guide the work on the science sequence.