Changes coming to sixth grade curriculum

It’s hurry-up-and-wait for Independent School District 834 officials seeking answers from the state regarding implementation of a new social studies curriculum for sixth-graders.

New social studies curriculum guidelines were set by the state about three weeks ago. Although district officials have been working on developing new curriculum for awhile, they remain unsure of when the new guidelines must be implemented.

Big changes are coming, at least to the sixth grade curriculum, according to Lisa Geng, coordinator of curriculum, instruction, and professional development. Ancient civilizations classes will be phased out in favor of Minnesota History due to the decisions made by the state. Depending on when the state says the change must be implemented, it could cause interesting conundrums since fourth graders this year are taking Minnesota History.

Board Chairwoman Kathy Buchholz said the district has been given two years to implement other curriculum changes in subjects such as math.

“So you’re telling me that depending on when the state wants to implement this that this year’s fourth graders may have to take Minnesota History again,” asked board member Amy Burback.

Geng said that is a possibility but she’s trying to get more direction from the state about when the sixth grade curriculum change must be implemented and what repercussions face the district if it was unable to meet the requirements. Geng added that she is working on a plan of best practices as more information becomes available.

“I couldn’t imagine that the state would make the new curriculum be implemented next year, especially after they’ve put it into place so late,” said board member Natasha Fleischman.

The sixth grade course would be taught through an online course done in collaboration with District 287 in the west metro. Teachers in attendance said that although the change would be different, they thought the website that would be used was well-done and thorough. They added that there would be challenges determining how to gear their new curriculum to various technologies, including bring-your-own technology programs and having enough school-owned technology available to students.

Other curriculum work going on includes creating a new kindergarten through grade 5 curriculum, eighth grade introduction to global studies, ninth grade global studies, 10th grade upgrades from a seven-year-old curriculum and an economic and government aspect of 12th grade. Civics class will now be spread throughout the curriculum as well.

Geng hopes to provide learning through real-life situations, meeting 21st century learning needs of students, aligning with Bridge to Excellence and new state standards, provide authentic reflection of learning, and utilizing open sources or teacher created materials in the new curriculum. Some teachers will continue working on developing the curriculum throughout the summer.

Contact Avery Cropp at [email protected]