Mapping Teaching and Learning with Gillian Toledo, Curriculum Coordinator

Toledo has an MA in Curriculum Development from Teachers College at Columbia University and came to Valley School this year after 20 years in the education field, including 11 as a teacher in New York, Michigan and Washington.  She describes her work at Valley as helping to identify “the connective tissue that we are weaving between Pre-K and 5th grade” to give structure to the academic and social growth of the students. 
The curriculum mapping project that has been implemented by the Head of School, Alan Braun, has three parts: description, analysis and review.  Toledo has begun by helping teachers document, record and share their educational activities so that they can compare their projected ideas about specific learning units and the actual impact and implementation of them in the classroom.  The analytical stage of the project incorporates the variety of formal and informal modes of assessment of student learning used by teachers day-to-day.  These might be the quality of finished projects or scores on tests, but also the evidence gleaned from student conversations and photographs of classroom activities.  Another assessment tool is the “exit ticket” model in which a teacher can quickly gauge the effectiveness of a lesson about fractions, for instance, by asking a student to recall a key concept on their way out the door for lunch.  During a teacher in-service day on March 14, Gillian and the faculty will be reviewing the whole school curriculum map to kick off the collective analysis stage of the project.  Faculty will work together to identify areas that need more emphasis or further development in the Valley School program all the way up the grades.
Gillian loves the way her job allows her to shift from the big picture perspective to on-the-ground experience.  Her discussion with a 3rd grade teacher about the goals of a city design unit might be followed by a shift supervising recess—another crucial arena for different kinds of learning.  Out on the playground, she watches kids do the frequently muddy work of testing out their ideas with each other.  Just what might those hay bales turn into with the right amount of teamwork and imagination?
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