Curriculum & Instruction
At Cook County School District 104, academics are our top priority! We are committed to developing and supporting instructional programs through the use of data to inform instruction. Our curriculum is designed to provide variety and breadth through the study of content and process in the fundamental learning areas of reading, language arts, math, science, social studies, fine arts, physical development and health, computer literacy, and foreign languages.
The Department of Curriculum and Instruction is responsible for the following:
- Curriculum development, evaluation, and alignment from Kindergarten to 8th grade;
- Assessment Coordination of Common Assessments and COGAT;
- Professional Development for all staff;
- After School Academic Programming such as FUSION, Robotics, Minecraft EDU, and Stellar Girls; and
- STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Outreach through STEM Expo and Tech Savvy.
The curriculum at District 104 is aligned with the Illinois Learning Standards.
All of the learning standards that we follow were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college as well as a career in the 21st century workforce. These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education so that they will graduate high school being able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs.
Cook County School District 104 believes that our children should have multiple opportunities to demonstrate what they know. Assessment is a tool that provides a picture of the child in the process of being a learner. This perspective guides educational priorities and includes parents in the process. The value of the individual and his or her contribution to the world lies in the manner in which he or she uses intelligence, experience, and creativity in real-life circumstances.
District 104 uses the following types of assessments to measure student progress and ensure that instruction is targeted to meet the needs of each individual student:
- State-Mandated Testing: The state of Illinois currently requires all public school districts to conduct assessments created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The PARCC assessments measures individual student achievement according to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics. The results of this new assessment will be reported to every school and district in the state in the late spring.
- Nationally Normed Assessments:
- Measures of Academic Progress (MAP): MAP is an achievement test, taken online, that measures academic learning in mathematics, reading, language arts, and science. The District and parents receive reports that show individual results and trends over time, as well as results that are normed to national results.
- AIMSweb: AIMSweb is a curriculum-based measurement used for monitoring student progress. AIMSweb uses time efficient, accurate, and frequent assessment of basic skills such as general reading achievement, spelling, mathematics, and written expression.
“Differentiated instruction isn’t a strategy. It’s a way of thinking about all you do when you teach and all that the kids do when they learn.”
- Dr. Carol Ann Tomlinson
Differentiated instruction is not a curriculum or a program. It is a process that enables teachers to improve student learning by matching students’ learning characteristics to the District 104 curriculum. This process requires teachers to anticipate and acknowledge the differences in students' readiness, interests, and learning styles. Teachers then effectively engage students in meaningful and challenging work. Classroom teachers challenge students to think, work, and produce at a high level. In differentiating instruction, teachers address student learning differences by modifying content, process, and product.
- CONTENT: Content is what students will learn and the materials they will use. When teachers differentiate the District 104 curriculum, they may vary depth and breadth of learning or the complexity of the ideas. It may also involve student selection of topics related to the content.
- PROCESS: Process describes how children make sense of the content. When teachers differentiate process, they design learning experiences that involve thinking, from basic to complex understanding.
- PRODUCT: Product is the way students demonstrate and apply what they have learned. Product differentiation means students may respond to learning in a variety of ways.
For more information about differentiated instruction, please visit these outside links:
- “One Classroom, Many Minds; A Paddle for the Mainstream” (New York Times article)
- “Differentiating Instruction; Finding Manageable Ways to Meet Individual Needs” (ASCD article)