The development of a revised curriculum for kindergarten is continuing, with a focus on literacy and numeracy, and the differentiation necessary for those students who are in half-day or full-day programs. The goal is to have the curriculum ready for the upcoming school year.
Significant involvement by parents, teachers, principals, advocates, and representatives from the disciplines of art, music, and physical education is under way as the new curriculum is being designed.
The Kindergarten Planning Committee has examined model programs and curricula, standards and outcome documents that apply to students in Maryland. The committee also is examining research and literature about best practices.
The committee's work will be reviewed extensively by a much larger group of stakeholders parents, teachers, support staff, and members of the community who have expressed an interest in being involved in the curriculum development process.
Currently, the committee is preparing unit designs and examining curriculum materials particularly in reading and mathematics. The committee is using the Maryland State Department of Education's newly endorsed content standards and the revised Maryland Learning Outcomes to identify what students should learn in Kindergarten in order to be successful in later grades.
The Kindergarten committee is using four critical design principles that impact curriculum, focusing on schedule, environment, assessment, and instruction.
The model being used is fully interdisciplinary, with differences to accommodate half-day and full-day programs. Art, music, and physical education instruction are provided by content specialists and reinforced by classroom teachers. Direct instruction is provided in each of the disciplines and is connected to other content areas.
Students who participate in full-day Kindergarten programs will have additional opportunities to accelerate and enhance their learning experiences. The full-day program will provide students more reading, writing, and mathematics time, as well as more time to explore interdisciplinary units.
Although no final decision has yet been made, the design for full-day Kindergarten is envisioned as using second language instruction or technology development as types of additional programs that could be made available in a full-day schedule.
This summer, all Kindergarten teachers will receive five days of training on the new curriculum and its implementation. The training will focus on balanced literacy, mathematics, and strategies for teaching interdisciplinary instructional units, and on integrating the arts into a literacy-enriched curriculum.
Teachers also will learn more about the construction of learning centers and engaging young children in authentic project work that mirrors the way children experience the natural world.
Additional ongoing training will be offered during the school year, supported by each school's staff development teacher. Throughout the 2000-2001 school year, additional Kindergarten units will be developed that focus on the arts, physical education, social studies, and science, as well as their connection to reading and mathematics.