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Nutley School Officials Outline Curriculum Changes

Teachers will be encouraged to collaborate and new teachers will get curriculum training before the school year starts.

New teachers in the Nutley School District will get together before school starts to go over changes in curriculum, the school board said this week.

In addition, the district presented curriculum goals that included asking the teachers to collaborate more this year.

Gina Villani, director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Nutley School District, led a presentation at Monday’s Board of Education meeting about changes to curriculum for the upcoming school year. The full PowerPoint presentation is available on the the school website.

"Teachers are expected to implement the new curriculum in September," she said. "And we will have regular feedback at staff meetings during the year. We have a five-year timeline, so this is just the first step." 

Villani said a committee of teachers and administrators updated the curriculum, "We're looking at improving everything, from the big picture to the small picture. There is an instructional focus, and the project contains what is expected of teachers, the essential questions kids need to know, and is open-ended."

All of the curriculum integrates new technologies and teaches writing skills, and suggests what teaching resources are needed, Villani said.

Russell Lazovick, superintendent of schools, said there will be three days of new instruction for new teachers before school starts, to help make sure the new curriculum is given to the instructors. "The new teachers will meet key members of the staff, and learn the new curriculum, and this is expanded from the previous two days, all to increase the success of students," Lazovick said.

School board trustees complimented Villani's presentation, with board member Vicky Flynn asking questions about specific teaching areas. The answers included:

  • In the elementary schools, language arts skills teaching will include reading, writing, listening, speaking, proper grammar, vocabulary and spelling, school officials said.A challenge will be to increase collaboration among teachers, according to officials.
  • At the John H. Walker Middle School, a different focus on the state-required NJASK requirements will be scheduled into the lesson plans, with the goal of teaching a level of mastery, school officials said. Officials said the goal is to allow for a natural student growth and increased achievement.
  • For the high school, better sharing among teachers of Algebra I and II, Geometry, Pre-Calculus and Calculus was a focus of the project, officials said. High school math teachers need to talk a lot amongst themselves during the year, and document how teaching the different subjects are both similar and different, officials said.

Villani said the board had to first approve the new curriculum Monday night, then a draft document has be completed for one year.

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