Summer's fun and games translate to fall's lesson plans


Tim Kent watched intently as an elementary school teacher circled a table of colleagues holding a strange black and white ball mounted on a stick.

"See?" said Kent, a BCPS resource science teacher and "captain" of the school system's traveling planetarium, StarLab.  He motioned to the demonstration. "Just by going around the table, you can see how a half moon would look, and now a quarter moon. It keeps changing."

Across the media center at Chesapeake High School in Essex, Eric Cromwell knelt on hands and knees to examine several inverted paper cones; he and a knot of teachers around him poked at each cone with an elongated Q-Tip.  "The goal is to find some way to pick up and drop off the most pollen (baking soda) for our model flower (the cone)," said Cromwell, who is coordinator of elementary science for BCPS. "This is the performance assessment for our Grade 2 unit, 'Bee an Engineer.'"  

What seemed like fun and games to a casual observer was in fact part of the annual BCPS Curriculum Writing Workshops held each summer to prepare for the upcoming school year. At Chesapeake, more than 380 BCPS teachers filled classrooms and common areas with lesson plans and laptops as together they worked to craft and hone the instruction that every BCPS student will receive. In all, 41 workshops burbled with collaboration and discussions centered on everything from American history to high school photography to statistics.  

Recently, visitors to Chesapeake got to see how teachers create the curriculum and how technology will play a role in providing instruction. BCPS has kicked off a systemwide program called S.T.A.T. – Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow – that will put individual digital learning at the forefront of the classroom and student learning experience.

That technology is an important piece of the work was evident throughout Chesapeake as educators pored over data and charts glowing from laptop and tablet screens.  On this day, visitors included Board members Michael Bowler and Ed Parker, who huddled with educators around lesson plans in progress and delved into the process of creating curriculum. "They're working hard," Parker said. "It's exciting to think that all this energy will be going back into the classroom."

Added science coordinator Cromwell, "They're having fun, but they're learning, too, and working to prepare themselves and their colleagues. This is important work they do."

BCPS will offer one more day for visitors from the school system and other guests to observe the curriculum writers at Chesapeake High School, on Monday, July 21, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.  

For more photos of the curriculum writing workshop, visit the BCPS Flickr website at:

Story and photos by Charles Herndon, BCPS communications specialist
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