Thursday, December 8, 2011

Curriculum Development: Fulfilling Our Founders' Promise

The following message was sent to the CAIS community on Thursday, December 8, 2011


Curriculum Development: Where are you going?
How will you know you've arrived? How do you get there?

Dear CAIS Community,

This communication to the CAIS community, written on the eve of our fabulous annual Winter Program and the school's 30th anniversary celebration, is the latest in a series of follow-up pieces to "CAIS 2014-An Overview."  In my last piece "CAIS's Mission-Walking the Walk," I went into some detail about the work we are doing to ensure consistency between the school's program and Mission.  In this communication I want to discuss some of  the work we are doing to address the top two areas of focus in the CAIS 2014 school improvement plan -- "Curriculum and Instruction" and "Chinese Language and Culture."
Next Monday and Tuesday, December 12 and 13, CAIS will hold a "Curriculum Summit."  The purpose of the meeting is to create a three-plus year plan to develop and implement a model Chinese-English dual language immersion curriculum that leverages, codifies and improves upon our 30 years of experience.  For these two days we will be hosting an outside team of curriculum experts from the National Foreign Language Center (NFLC) at the University of Maryland and Curriculum21, a nation-leading curriculum consultancy group (see below for the bios of our visiting team members).  The team, assembled by our Chinese Program Director Kevin Chang and Middle School Director and Assistant Head of School, Curriculum Elizabeth Larose, will be working closely with CAIS's own curriculum team for the next few years.
Much work has preceded the Curriculum Summit.  The curriculum team and the whole faculty have already developed and adopted a set of learning principles.  Learning principles are definitive statements around which there is substantial research about the ways in which students learn best.  The CAIS faculty has made an explicit commitment to use the learning principles in making decisions about instruction, including lesson planning, unit design and curriculum development.  Our Learning Principles must also be used to assess and improve teaching practices at CAIS.  The faculty has also started work on identifying specific ways in which CAIS's Mission can be woven directly into the curriculum.  This work was described in "CAIS's Mission: Walking the Walk" which I referenced above.  It is upon these two foundational stones, Mission and Learning Principles, that solid curriculum is built.
Our goal is ambitious: we want to develop a pre-k--eighth grade Chinese-English dual language immersion curriculum that will serve as a model for the nation.  The study of Chinese language and culture is on the rise nationally, as is immersion as an effective pedagogy.  CAIS, as the first school in the country to embrace Chinese immersion, clearly occupies a de facto leadership position.  Our experience, our talented faculty team and our supportive community now enable us to "create our place in the world" by producing a curriculum that will not only serve our students, but also benefit the larger cause of Chinese-English dual language immersion across the country.  In our 30th anniversary year, this represents a renewed commitment to fulfill the vision of our school's pioneering founders.
The Curriculum Summit is a watershed event for our community; it signals the beginning of the largest and most significant whole school initiative that we will undertake in the years immediately ahead.  We have been able to move forward quickly and aggressively on this initiative largely due to seed money from a generous anonymous donor; I am humbled by this generosity that has energized our faculty to take on this challenging and exciting task, and I am determined that we deliver on our promise to our founders.



CAIS's visiting curriculum team members:

Dr. Wang, Shuhan, National Foreign Language Center
Dr. Wang is deputy director for the National Foreign Language Center (NFLC) at the University of Maryland. She is also co-principal investigator of STARTALK Project, a multiyear federally funded initiative under the National Security Language Initiatives that promotes the study and teaching of critical languages (Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Hindi, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu) in the United States.

Prior to coming to NFLC, Dr. Wang was Executive Director for Chinese Language Initiatives at the Asia Society from 2006 to 2009, whose mission was to expand and strengthen the Chinese language field in the United States. From 1998 to 2006, Dr. Wang was Education Associate for World Languages and International Education for the Department of Education, State of Delaware. Her collaborative efforts led Delaware to win the prestigious Goldman Sachs Award for Excellence in International Education in 2005. For eight years from 1998 to 2006, she was the director of the Summer Institute for Chinese Language Teachers at the University of Pennsylvania. For more than 25 years, she has been actively involved in field-building for the Chinese and Critical Languages in the United States, including heritage language community schools. She was also a Chinese and English as a Second Language teacher at heritage and K-12 schools, and at the university level.  

Dr. Wang serves on the Board of Directors for the Joint National Committee for Languages, the Editorial Board of Foreign Language Annals of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, and the Leadership Team of the Alliance for the Advancement of Heritage Languages.

Dr. Wang's research interests include world language and heritage language education, curriculum and material design, teacher education and development, and language planning and policy. Her work is published in books and peer reviewed journals nationally and internationally including two Chinese textbook series for high school and elementary school students. Presently, she is leading an international team to develop Flying with Chinese, a Chinese learning program with a series of textbooks, workbooks and teacher guides for K-6 learners of Chinese. She is highly sought after nationally and internationally as a keynote and conference speaker, professional development workshop provider and project consultant or evaluator. 

Dr. Anne Johnson, Curriculum 21
Dr. Johnson is the Director of Professional Development for Curriculum Designers, Inc. (CDI) and an independent consultant.  She works extensively with public, independent and post-secondary institutions internationally on implementing curriculum and assessment reform, developing high quality leadership teams and developing training and implementation plans.  Her practical approach to design and alignment is based on her thirty years experiences as a classroom teacher, associate superintendent, building principal, adjunct professor, and leader in schools, who have implemented long term curriculum alignment and mapping initiatives. Ann has facilitated onsite and virtual work with schools and leadership teams to help them integrate the Common Core Standards and upgrade their curriculum to include 21st century skills and assessments.  She has also trained teacher leaders and administrators in the curriculum alignment process and coached leadership teams in developing comprehensive implementation plans. The Four Phases of Mapping that she co-author Heidi Hayes-Jacobs outline in their book, The Curriculum Mapping Planner: Templates, Tools, and Resources for Effective Professional Development, provide the foundation for the training.  Ann is also featured in Heidi's book, Getting Results with Curriculum Mapping, in Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development's DVD, Getting Results with Curriculum Mapping, and is working on the training modules for Heidi's new soon to be released book, Mapping to the Core: Integrating the Common Core Standards into Your Local School Curriculum.  Ann has also served as a mentor and coach to ASCD Faculty members from the Pacific Rim (Japan and Australia) in curriculum mapping.  She also has been a member of the core CDI team who has worked on the Curriculum Alignment Project.

Jeanne Tribuzzi, Curriculum 21
Ms. Tribuzzi is the Director of English Language Arts, ESL and Second Languages in the West Seneca Central School District in West Seneca, NY. She has served in a variety of roles in the West Seneca district for the past 21 years as a primary teacher, a middle school English teacher, the Director of Staff Development and she is currently the ELA/ ESL & Second Language Director. Jeanne has extensive experience with curriculum mapping, and is currently working to align district work to the Common Core Standards. She works with teachers and schools across the nation on curriculum and literacy and is working on her doctorate at the University of Buffalo. Jeanne presents at the National Curriculum Mapping Conference each summer and at other conferences with Heidi Hayes-Jacobs several times each year.