Ensuring Great Teaching with Strong Support
A high quality curriculum is at the heart of a high-quality education. Curriculum refers to the core components, or learning standards, of the subject matter and the materials used to teach those standards. Learning standards define what all students need to know and be able to do at each grade level and are defined by our state based on the Common Core State Standards. Throughout their K-12 education, students progress through the curriculum of a variety of subjects comprising the K-12 course of study.
Our curriculum program:
- Researches and assists in processes for selection of instructional materials.
- Implements curriculum that is aligned with state standards.
- Develops information systems that record, measure and assess student learning.
- Acts as a resource for current research and best practices and programs.
- Coordinates professional development.
- Consults with educators on district, state and federal requirements including state and local assessments.
Four learning goals provide the foundation for the development of all academic learning standards in Washington state:
- Read with comprehension, write effectively, and communicate successfully in a variety of ways and settings and with a variety of audiences;
- Know and apply the core concepts and principles of mathematics; social, physical, and life sciences; civics and history, including different cultures and participation in representative government; geography; arts; and health and fitness;
- Think analytically, logically, and creatively, and to integrate technology literacy and fluency as well as different experiences and knowledge to form reasoned judgments and solve problems; and
- Understand the importance of work and finance and how performance, effort, and decisions directly affect future career and educational opportunities.
PK-12 Mathematics Vision Statement
To fulfill The Bellingham Promise, we believe mathematics is important for life, career, and college readiness, therefore we are committed to heterogenous, on grade level math courses that
- Offer all students a coherent, equitable, accessible and challenging mathematics program by ensuring all mathematics teachers have a deep understanding of the content and of what students need to know and be able to do.
- Support the success and unique needs of individual students by establishing classrooms where students learn mathematics by using prior knowledge and experiences to practice and apply his/her knowledge. Students learn new concepts by thinking critically, communicating effectively, problem solving actively while striving to be independent learners in an investigative learning environment.
- Use formative assessments to drive instruction through collecting evidence from a variety of sources; to guide instruction and create an accurate picture of student conceptual understanding, procedural skills, and application; and by using the results of formative and summative assessments to make program decisions.
- Provide access to technology that will facilitate students’ understanding of mathematics and ensure that students are capable of using technology to explore mathematical concepts.
OSPI Mathematics Learning Standards page.
The following link provides detailed information per grade level about the standards to be learned at each grade level.
The following document helps to highlight the key standards by grade level (K-8). Students should be spending the majority of their time learning in these focus areas.
Since 2014, our elementary teachers have used the top-rated Math Learning Center’s Bridges in Math with Number Corner. For students needing additional support, we also use the Support and Intervention materials from Math Learning Center. We also implement Concept Quests and Math circles to extend and challenge students from grades 2 through 5.
Students learn mathematics by actively doing mathematics in a sense-making classroom. Bellingham teachers use our curriculum to develop conceptual understanding that leads to procedural fluency. Students share their thinking with others and implement the elementary Standards for Mathematical Practice as they become mathematicians.
Teachers gather a great deal of student learning information through observation and interview. They also implement the many assessments that are built into Bridges and Number Corner for more formal evidence of learning. In addition, we collect data through WaKIDS (Kindergarten) and NWEA MAP assessment and state SBA annual math assessments in grades 3-5.
Beginning in the fall of 2021, middle school teachers (grades 6-8) will use the Desmos 6-8 curriculum which is an enhanced version of the top rated Open Up (also known as Illustrative Mathematics) Math Curriculum. The curriculum uses an engaging, problem-based approach and provides experiences to explore and connect ideas based on grade level standards.
Students learn mathematics by actively doing mathematics in sense-making classrooms. Our middle school teachers use our curriculum to develop critical thinkers and problem solving that have deep conceptual understanding that leads to procedural fluency. Students are expected to share their thinking with others through a visible thinking classroom approach developed by Dr. Peter Liljedahl. Dr. Liljedahl has provided ongoing professional learning workshops for our middle and high school teachers.
In middle school, students continue to strive to develop their Standards for Mathematical Practice.
To learn more about our middle school program please see our middle school math Q and A webpage.
Teachers will implement the assessments that are included in the Desmos 6-8 program to monitor students learning. Teachers will collaboratively develop common assessments for this new curriculum. In addition, we implement NWEA MAP as a local assessment of growth and the state assessment (and federal accountability assessment) called SBA.
Beginning in the fall of 2021, we will use the Agile Accelerator version of the curriculum for Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2. We will continue to use the transformational curriculum called Intensified Algebra for the course of the same name. Advanced mathematics courses use a variety of AP or other curricula (including those created by teachers) designed for those specific courses.
Students are expected to share their thinking with others through this visible thinking classroom approach developed by Dr. Peter Liljedahl. Dr. Liljedahl has provided ongoing professional learning workshops for our middle and high school teachers.
Teachers use problems from Agile Assessment and teacher developed tests, quizzes and class exit tickets as well as observation of students in visible thinking classrooms. All Algebra 1 students will take the Algebra Assessment from NWEA. Tenth grade students will take the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA). Students who take Advanced Placement courses are strongly encouraged to take the end of co
Preschool focuses on developing early numeracy skills such as counting, recognizing shapes and addition and subtraction through hands-on experiences using Building Blocks curriculum. To support responsive teaching, students are assessed using the TS Gold assessment throughout the year.
Washington State Science and Learning Standards (WSSLS) also known as the Next Generation Science Standards, describe at each grade level from kindergarten through high school what students should know in the four domains of science: life, earth and space, physical, and engineering, technology and science application.
FOSS (Full Option Science System) kits are used to support the WSSLS. Some schools and grade levels may use different kits to support specific inquiry units. During the 2020-21 school year some FOSS units were adapted to include STEM Storylines: STEM Storylines in Elementary (K-5) | STEM Materials
- Animals 2x2
- Earth's changing surface
- Solids and liquids
- Life cycles - butterflies
- Balance and motion
- Pebbles, salt and silt
- Ocean Science
- Space Science
- Structures of Life
- Mixtures and Solutions
We are continuing to adapt previous curriculum resources to the WSSLS and will be embarking on a three-year project to develop teacher leadership and coordinate science curriculum development, field experiences, and partnerships with community based organizations.
The Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science is given in the spring of the fifth grade year. Additional information on the WCAS is available here: Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science | OSPI (www.k12.wa.us)
Since 2018, our adopted middle school curriculum is Amplify Science. Amplify science was developed at UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science and is the highest rated middle school science curriculum according to edreports.org: https://www.edreports.org/compare/results/science-6-8
Amplify science is built from the ground up for three dimensional learning. This includes attending to cross-cutting concepts, science and engineering practices, and the disciplinary core ideas.
During an Amplify unit students take on the role of scientists and engineers to investigate real-world phenomena.
Amplify is a literacy-rich science program. Like practicing scientists, students spend a large part of investigations reading, writing, listening, and speaking in order to gather information and communicate their findings about the natural world.
Hands on experiences are an important part of the Amplify curriculum. For understanding science phenomena that are too small, large, slow, distant, or dangerous there are also powerful digital simulations and modeling tools embedded into the Amplify curriculum.
The Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science is given in the spring of the eighth grade year. Additional information on the WCAS is available here: Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science | OSPI (www.k12.wa.us). Formative assessments are embedded in the Amplify curriculum and are used to assess student learning during units.
Curriculum and Instructional model
High school curriculum for science is developed by teachers in collaboration with their departments and in some cases across the teachers of the same courses district wide. Students are encouraged to take a three-year science sequence (biology, chemistry, and physics) which also integrates the earth and space science disciplinary core ideas from the WSSLS. AP science teachers have texts that are designed to align with AP course syllabi and help prepare students for their AP exams.
Our science assessments are created and implemented by science teachers. Students who take Advanced Placement courses are strongly encouraged to take the end of course AP exams. The Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science is given in the spring of the eleventh grade year.
Much of the social studies curriculum at K-5 is developed by teacher teams at each school. Some units have been developed collaboratively district wide. We are continuing to grow the implementation of the Since Time Immemorial (STI) Curriculum and are developing locally designed STI curriculum in consultation with educators from Lummi Nation and the Nooksack Tribe. In our IB elementary schools, units of inquiry are multi-disciplinary and include social studies themes/topics based on grade level standards.
Our approach to learning social studies concepts is based on guided inquiry.
Our model for instruction is based on taking an inquiry mindset.
We teach for conceptual understanding and transfer of ideas as described by Lynn Erickson in this IB presentation.
Our social studies assessments are created and implemented by classroom teachers. In elementary school, we expect students will be assessed on grade level appropriate understanding of Civics standards through teacher developed assessments by the end of fifth grade.
Since 2017, our adopted middle school curriculum is TCI History Alive! The Ancient World and Medieval World (grade 6) and United States through Industrialism (grade 8) are the core texts/digital licenses.
Beginning in 2020-21 (based on revised state standards), our seventh graders students now study Washington State as a year-long course (before this it was a single semester course paired with Medieval History). Since 2017, we have used the League of Women Voters of Washington curriculum The State We’re In: Washington, 8th edition (for secondary students) as the core curriculum and in 2020-21, we added the supplement An Indigenous People’s History of the United States For Young People.
In 2020-21, we also added a piece of supplementary curriculum called Stamped to enhance the curriculum for eighth grade students study of race in the United States.
Our middle schools use three approaches. The first is a “core” approach where the same teachers have a group of students both for social studies and language arts/literacy. These teachers are teamed with math and science teachers. They share the same group or team of students among this team. Literacy and social studies are then integrated through out the school year, though students are graded by content area.
Another model is the separation of social studies from language arts. In this model, the teachers are focused on their course of study and their passion content area, so students have one teacher for social studies and another for language arts/literacy.
The third model is like the first, but the teacher treats the two subjects/ content areas more independently. In all models, students are encouraged to be historians and global thinkers and to consider how they can make a difference/take action locally to make their school and community stronger.
Our social studies assessments are created and implemented by classroom teachers. In middle school, we expect students will be assessed on grade level appropriate understanding of Civics standards through teacher developed assessments in the eighth grade.
High school curriculum for social studies is developed by teachers in collaboration with their departments and in some cases across the teachers of the same courses district wide. AP social studies teachers have texts that are designed to align with AP course syllabi and help prepare students for their AP exams.
Our social studies assessments are created and implemented by social studies teachers. In high school, we expect students will be assessed on grade level appropriate understanding of Civics standards through teacher developed assessments. Students who take Advanced Placement courses are strongly encouraged to take the end of course AP exams.