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Curriculum proposals primed for U-46 approval

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 is set to vote on four curriculum related proposals at its upcoming meeting on June 1. The items were presented at the Monday, May 18 meeting which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
  Included is an elementary integrated proposal to add stages two and three to a current curriculum.
  “Last year, we presented stage one of the integrated curriculum in which we identified the desired results, the standards for literacy, science, social studies and social emotional learning that would be taught in each of the six units,” Celia Banks, coordinator of elementary literacy and libraries, said of the K-6 course.
  The plan is to have implementation in the 2020-2021 school year. The estimated cost for resources and professional development is $7.2 million.
  Included in the resources are guided reading sets, and board member Eva Porter said: “I don’t have a question but I have a statement. I heard you say that many of the sets will be shared among the entire building. Will each grade level get their own?”
  Banks said there will only be one set per building, but they include 50 titles per level and equate to thousands of books.
  Olivia Howell, the board’s student advisor, asked about the use of online resources in the proposal. She said she prefers reading physical books.
  “Ideally, we’ll be back in buildings and we’ll be able to use actual books” but it allows the option for online if distance learning continues, Banks said.
  Banks said there is no extra fee for the online resources when asked by board member Melissa Owens. Sue Kerr, the board’s president, asked about teacher collaboration in use of resources and Banks said the district “will continue to support teachers.”
  A middle school family and consumer sciences proposal was discussed which would create two new elective courses, culinary and personal success as well as culinary and leadership skills.
  “Currently, students in seventh and eighth grade have the option to engage in a rotation which consists of four nine-week sessions of computers, art, family and consumer sciences and Project Lead the Way,” said Tracy Stewart, coordinator of career and technical education. “With the new elective options, students are able to take semester long courses that are more aligned to their interest and will prepare them to make a more informed decision as they look to selecting a pathway that they might want to choose in high school.”
  The estimated cost is $358,327 which includes resources like kitchen equipment, which is estimated at $81,737.
  Owens noted that the district stated some equipment purchases may be delayed due to the effects of the shutdown and asked how long the current quotes would last, and Stewart said U-46 would likely “have to go ahead and get new quotes” but it has a good partnership with the vendor.
  Another middle school family and consumer sciences proposal was discussed to create two new essential technology electives. The estimated cost is $69,809.
  Introduction to computers would teach graphic design, animation, 3D printing, coding, programming machines, website development, photo editing, video editing and passion project. Interactive media would teach graphic design, animation, 3D printing, coding, programming, app development, augmented/virtual reality, audio/visual editing and passion project.
  Howell, who is in South Elgin High School’s BEACON Academy, said “I love the idea” and suggested the middle school students taking these courses visit the BEACON Academy.
  Also proposed is a heritage Spanish curriculum with an estimated cost of $209,963.
  “This proposal is seeking approval for the curriculum, assessments, rubrics, and resources for the Heritage Spanish language curriculum. This curriculum program will prepare students with Spanish experience in the home but little or no formal education in Spanish language,” the proposal states.
  Board member Veronica Noland said she did not have access to a course like this when she was a student and said: “I just want to say how absolutely thrilled, thrilled, thrilled I am to see this proposal.”

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