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Although some might think teachers take off for the summer, at Evanston Township High School, many teachers spend it developing materials for new or revised courses or engaging in professional development – proposals for which the District 202 School Board heard at its May 23 meeting.

The 23 proposed summer projects focused on curriculum development and professional development in several areas: 1 Humanities, new courses, literacy and well-being

Administrators have requested $83,045 to complete the projects.

“With a reduced budget for curriculum summer projects, we worked diligently to utilize grant funds to increase the resources available for the 2011 summer projects,” said Dr. Diep Nguyen, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. “As such, just under half of the projects will be paid for with Perkins Vocational Education funds or IDEA funds.”

1 Humanities

The new Freshman Humanities program, in which all incoming freshmen reading above the 40th percentile are assigned to a single class and which will provide them the opportunity to earn honors credit through demonstrated completion of certain assignments, generated much community discussion and controversy this past year.

Since approval of the program last December, teachers have been working “fast and furiously” to develop next year’s curriculum, Dr. Nguyen told the Board. “The general curriculum is pretty much designed,” she continued. “We’re now at the level of specific details, specific lessons,” she said, describing what would be covered in the summer curriculum project related to this course.

New Courses

The curricula for five new courses to be taught next year will be developed over the summer if funds are approved. Three of the courses are in the Physical Education Department: Competitive Sports, Global Dance and Strength Training. Another is a course in video-game design and programming. Finally, the curriculum for the second year in the new Chinese language program is projected to be developed in the summer.

Literacy

Summer also provides opportunities for professional development. One example is the training to be provided to teachers to implement the Enhanced Read 180 program, used with students reading below grade-level. According to the proposal, the Read 180 program has been upgraded and provides many enhancements that allow “teachers to closely monitor student progress.”

Well-Being

Also included in the summer proposals is a plan to develop a curriculum for students who are “frequently … assigned to the Alternative Learning Center [in- school suspension] as a result of disciplinary infractions. Many are students who are at-risk both academically and behaviorally, and who would benefit from participating in thematic lesson plans as part of a structured curriculum.”

The curriculum, being developed by a team led by social worker Aracely Canchola will “provide students with the skills to manage frustration … and build problem-solving skills in order to effectively reengage in the classroom setting and develop more academic success.”

“I want to highlight this therapeutic curriculum,” said Board member Rachel Hayman. Students will be given tools which we hope will keep them out of in-school suspension.”

The Board will vote on approval of summer curriculum projects at its June 13 meeting.