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Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the March 2016 Curriculum Policy Update

April 8, 2016

Q1:
Can I change the Curriculum Pathways Track I selected at the end of March, 2016?
A:
Yes, programs may change their track once. Please communicate the change to Jane Schwerdtfeger and the appropriate SABES PD Center director as soon as possible. Contact Jane at janes@doe.mass.edu.
 
Q2:
Where can I find the templates for developing unit plans?
A:
The instructional unit plan templates for ELA Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document, Math Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document, and ESOL Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document are located on the ACLS Curriculum and Instruction Resources web page under the headers for English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics and Adult Numeracy, and ESOL. These templates are available in both pdf and Word versions.
 
Q3:
Where can I find the lesson plan templates?
A:
The lesson plan templates for ELA Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document, ESOL Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document, and Math Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document are located on the ACLS Curriculum and Instruction Resources web page under the headers for English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics and Adult Numeracy, and ESOL. The ELA Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document and Math Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document templates have a brief companion guide to accompany them; an ESOL companion guide will be uploaded shortly. These templates are available in both pdf and Word versions.
 
Q4:
Does my scope and sequence, unit plan and/or lesson plan need to look exactly like the templates ACLS has provided on the ACLS Curriculum and Instruction Resources web page?
A:
No, it does not. Programs may adapt the format for the scope and sequence as long as an introduction to the scope and sequence and all of the elements in the left-hand column of the chart are included (e.g., Unit Goals and Outcomes, Priority Standards, Assessment of Priority Standards). The same is true for the unit and lesson plans; as long as the components of the unit and lesson plans from the ACLS templates are included, they may be adapted.
 
Q5:
I notice that the scope and sequence templates for ELA Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document, Math Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document, and ESOL Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document have been changed since they were posted last year. Do I have to redo the work I've already done using the previous template?
A:
No, programs do not need to redo scope and sequence work that has already been completed using earlier versions (prior to March 23, 2016) of this template. However, programs should use these revised scope and sequence templates for future work. These scope and sequences were revised to bring greater consistency to the templates across the three content areas; this is particularly true for the ESOL scope and sequence template. These templates are located on the ACLS Curriculum and Instruction Resources web page under the headers for English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics and Adult Numeracy, and ESOL.
 
Q6:
My program closes in the summer and I would like a two-month extension on the curriculum work that is due August 15th, 2016.
A:
ACLS will not provide extensions. Programs should submit the materials they have developed by the August 15 deadline. The curriculum work was spread out as evenly as possible over the four years, and to extend the deadline would be to increase the load in future years. Also, the Open and Competitive RFP for ACLS-funded programs (and for SABES) is expected to be released in the fall, and ACLS needs time to provide feedback before the RFP is released.
 
Q7:
What is the difference between the information given about units in our scope and sequence and what ACLS wants in the unit plan template? Why do we need the unit template? Can we cut and paste?
A:
The scope and sequence, unit plan, and lesson plans have very different functions. The scope and sequence:
  • gives users a plan for what learning should occur over the period of time covered;
  • shows the scope of the material to be learned and in what sequence, and how unit topics, skills, content knowledge, and culminating tasks build over time.

The format of the scope and sequence provides teachers an overview of the year so that the unit topics, skills developed, and culminating work may be seen as a whole as they build on each other month by month. This "treetops" view is critical for teachers and directors to have as their plan for instruction for the year:

  • teachers can see what skill development needs to come first in order to progress to the next unit;
  • the scope and sequence also helps teachers stay aware of the amount of learning that is expected to happen in the year.

Compared to the "year at a glance" function of the scope and sequence, instructional units go into greater depth to guide the teacher in the specific skills and content knowledge to be developed. In the unit, teachers drill down into the specifics of the unit goal and outcomes, the standards that support those outcomes, and the culminating assessment for the unit. Teachers will also flesh out the vocabulary students will learn and all of the texts or resources they will read or use. All of this information is used in the unit plan to describe a suggested brief sequence of lessons or outline to provide guidance for teachers when writing lessons for an actual class of students.

For example, in the area of assessment, the assessment of priority standards might be only generally sketched out in the scope and sequence as to what task students will complete. However, in Stage 2 of the unit plan, "assessment evidence," will explain the specific ways students will demonstrate their learning, as well as exactly where teachers will place the various assessments in the sequence of lessons.

Curriculum development doesn't have to be a linear process. Some curriculum developers may find that they need to first flesh out the unit plan by identifying the unit goal and outcomes, objectives, alignment with priority standards, and culminating assessment before being able to lay out a scope and sequence for the year.

When developing lessons teachers will be focused on pulling everything together that has been thought through in the unit plan and meeting the varied needs of the actual students in their classroom in real time. Teachers will then reference the unit plan often when writing their lesson plans, and have the benefit of the thinking that already went into what students will learn and how the learning will be played out. The sample lesson plans will provide further guidance for teachers when they are developing lessons for their own students.

Some information will be able to be cut and pasted from one document to the other, but the information may need to be adjusted or fleshed out, depending on the document. For example, information from the unit plan may be added to the scope and sequence but in a briefer format. Users could directly paste the unit goals and outcomes statement and the assessment of priority standards statement from the unit plan into the scope and sequence. However, all the thinking and support behind these statements in the unit plan does not need to be included. The level of detail in the unit plan is not needed in the scope and sequence.

 
Q8:
Do you have examples of completed units?
A:
Yes, and we will be sharing more over time. For an example of one unit plan for ELA using the ACLS template, see this model from Ware for a mixed-level class, centering on CCR Level C, GLE 5–6.9. Thank you to Dani Scherer at the Ware Literacy Project for sharing her work. In addition to the unit plan, this document contains:
  1. the unit outline as it would be in a column from the ELA scope and sequence template
  2. attachments mentioned in the unit plan: an assessment plan, and an accompanying rubric."

For two examples of math unit plans, see this model on ratio and proportion for Level B Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document, and this model on area and perimeter for Level A Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document from the Women's Learning Center, St. Mary's Center for Women and Children, Dorchester, MA. Thank you to Melissa Braaten at the Women's Learning Center for sharing her work.

Completed units for ESOL are coming soon.

 
Q9:
I don't understand the March 7 Pathways for Program Curriculum Development document; what is the difference between "complete" and "submit"?
A:
In the Pathways for Program Curriculum Development document, work for each year is divided into what is to be completed, and work that is to be submitted. The curriculum material under work to be completed is ACLS's expectation for what the program needs to develop and have completed by the annual due date in order to have all curriculum materials by June 30, 2019. The materials to be submitted are a subset of those which the program completes. Programs will receive feedback from ACLS and SABES on the material that is submitted.
 
Q10:
I don't understand the March 7 update to the curriculum policy; what is the total amount of work needed to be done by a program?
A:
Depending on the instruction the program offers (i.e., ESOL-only, ABE-only, or both ESOL and ABE) and the program plan, programs will develop the following for the content areas of ESOL, and/or English Language Arts and Math.

For example, a program that offers three levels of instruction will have developed the first level in either 2015 or 2016, and then will need to develop the second and third levels. Levels may be developed in any order the program wishes (see Question 11).

A program that offers a different configuration of levels, such as two different levels of intermediate classes, will need to do a scope and sequence for both levels because the instruction given to the two classes is different. This is what is meant by the statement "any remaining levels" regarding what is to be completed in the Pathways for Program Curriculum Development document.

Programs that offer more than three classes within three levels of instruction will only need to complete three scope and sequences to provide a plan for these levels. For example, a program offers one beginning class, three intermediate classes, and two advanced level classes will develop a scope and sequence for the beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels, and the teachers for the intermediate and advanced levels share those scope and sequences and unit plans.

The instructional units and lesson plans that programs need to develop depend on the content area to be developed. What is required for ELA and ESOL is slightly different than what is required for math:

  • units that were sketched out in the first level scope and sequence and one fully developed lesson per unit for ELA and ESOL; three fully developed lesson plans for math;
  • units that were sketched out for the second level of the scope and sequence and one fully developed lesson per unit for ELA and ESOL; three fully developed lesson plans for math;
  • units for that were sketched out for the third level of the scope and sequence and one fully developed lesson per unit for ELA and ESOL; three fully developed lesson plans for math;
  • units that were sketched out for any remaining levels of the scope and sequence and one fully developed lesson per unit for ELA and ESOL; three fully developed lesson plans for math for any remaining class levels.
 
Q11:
Do I have to develop the first (e.g., beginning) level of my scope and sequence first? For example, may I develop the intermediate level first, and then go back to develop the beginning and advanced levels?
A:
Programs may begin developing any level they wish of their scope and sequence, and then proceed with the other levels.
 
Q12:
Can a scope and sequence be shared between two class levels if my program has more than three instructional levels (e.g., beginner, intermediate and advanced classes?)
A:
Yes, if it makes sense instructionally for the students to have the two levels share the same scope and sequence. Two class levels may share the same level (e.g., Intermediate Level C) if the scope and sequence and unit plans are the same or very similar. If the two class levels are linked but contiguous, (e.g., both classes are intermediate, but one class covers GLE 4–5.9 and the other class covers GLE 6–8.9), separate units and lessons would need to be developed for the two class levels.
 
Q13:
When students are coming into ABE at various times of year and different levels (even among given levels — beginners, intermediate, and advanced) and their goal is to pass HiSET to get their equivalency, how do thematic units work? Our teachers individualize all teaching based on student assessment and needs. This makes for much planning but for great success. I want to make good choices for my students and staff — and I don't want the staff creating documents that sit on a shelf.
Can you help me understand the thoughts behind this thinking?
A:
ACLS's curriculum policy supports programs in providing students the services needed to succeed in the 21st century. The policy is driven by the most current research available for the skills and content knowledge students need to learn to be prepared for post-secondary education and careers. Students needing to pass the HiSET must understand that the test is but one of a number of significant milestones on the way to a family sustaining wage. Programs must find ways to make this message clear.

Units are made up of coordinated lessons that focus on the skills that students need to learn. Units also focus on a topic or content that serves as the vehicle for students to practice the skills. Of course units can focus on skills and knowledge student need to pass the HiSET, but the curriculum or units can't stop there. The unit topic may be anything that relates to the post-secondary education, careers, or other needs of students. Based on your experience of what students at that particular level generally need to learn and practice and the skills outlined in the CCR Standards, you can build each unit around a topic relevant for students. The skills sequence, however, should stay roughly the same as planned (give or take some of the skills depending on the students in that class) so the teachers have that work already done, and the skills build coherently across the year in the units.

The thinking that goes into the unit plans will allow teachers to then differentiate for individual students in their lesson plans. When students come in mid-year, they should do as much work as they can that the rest of the class is doing, as well as some one-on-one work with the teacher or volunteer and some independent work to catch up. Catching students up to the rest of the class is not a simple process, but it is important to keep the rest of the class moving forward. Differentiating instruction is a must.

Students need programs to create high quality curriculum materials that will support their progress. ACLS expects the materials to be used in instruction.

 
Q14:
In regards to Appendix A of the document Pathways for Program Curriculum Development Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document for math, shouldn't all three components of rigor from the CCRS be integrated in each lesson?
A:
It is important to note that for the great majority of math standards, each intentionally and deliberately addresses only one of the three components of rigor. Programs should take this into account when choosing target standards for each of the three lesson plans called for in the Pathways for Program Curriculum Development document and elaborated upon in Appendix A. It is expected that the learning activities described in the lesson plan will be different, depending upon which component of rigor the targeted standard(s) address (even for standards within the same cluster). During the course of a unit or after a series of lessons, teachers should consciously determine that each of the three components has been developed with appropriate depth, regardless of the amount of time or number of lessons devoted to each. This is the appropriate interpretation of the phrase "with equal intensity."

More information on the components of rigor can be found in the Companion Document Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document accompanying the Math Lesson Plan Template.

 
Q15:
This task is overwhelming, and there is not enough time to do it. I need help!
A:
Help is available in a variety of ways from SABES. The SABES PD Centers for ELA, ESOL and Math are ready and waiting to help with questions and provide many resources. Many useful resources are also listed on their web pages. ELA and ESOL Practitioner Coaches are available to help answer questions and facilitate your curriculum work on site at your program. The Math PD Center provides CCR Open Houses, which are an opportunity to support programs in developing instructional units as part of an overall ABE math curriculum. Programs are encouraged to come as program teams, including teachers and directors, and bring their own draft math scope and sequences from which instructional units will be drafted. For more information about upcoming Math Open Houses, see The SABES PD Center for Mathematics and Adult Numeracy.

Finally, curriculum development aligned to the CCR Standards is relatively new for everyone, and if staff need support in understanding and using the CCRS in ELA, ESOL, or math instruction, teachers must take advantage of PD that is available. Find opportunities for face-to-face as well as hybrid and online PD at System for Adult Basic Education Support (SABES).

 
Q16:
Our program has been working on our ESOL scope and sequence. Our template design varies from the sample template provided by ACLS but does encompass and address all the required components. We adapted the template after attending an ESOL professional development training on Scope and Sequence and receiving feedback from SABES and ACLS. We found it to be much more user friendly and easier to follow.

As we begin our work on the ELA scope and sequence, my instructional team inquired if we could use the same template as we are using with ESOL but of course addressing the required components and language applicable to ELA. From a program perspective, we all agree that it would be much more conducive to have a standard template. I posed the question to Merilee briefly and she suggested that we use the ELA template provided by ACLS. However, based on the updated curriculum policy information, it states "the format of templates for developing a scope and sequence, units and lesson plans may be adapted as long as all of the components of the templates are addressed".

May we adapt the template for ELA as we feel it works best for our program or is it required (highly recommended) that we use the ELA template provided by ACLS?

A:
Yes, the format of this template may be adapted to program needs if an introduction to the scope and sequence and all of the elements in the left-hand column of the ELA chart are included.

Please note that the SABES recently updated (March 23) the scope and sequence templates. Programs do not need to re-do scope and sequence work that has already been completed using earlier versions of this template. For any future work, programs should use the revised scope and sequence templates posted on the ACLS Curriculum and Instruction Resources web page, under the appropriate header (ELA, ESOL, or Math).

 
Q17:
Do the curriculum policy guidelines from March 7 also apply to Transitions programs?
A:
No, the guidelines don't apply to transitions programs, only to CALCs (Community Adult Learning Centers) and ABE for Correctional Institutions. However, ACLS expects that curriculum for students in Transitions programs be of high quality and prepare students for their next steps in post-secondary education and careers.
 


Last Updated: April 11, 2016
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