New curriculum director highlights courses with critical approaches
Dr. Jonathan Budd, the district’s new director of curriculum, instruction and assessments, presented four curriculum items to the Board of Education during its Aug.18 meeting.
Two were long overdue updates; two were exciting new courses.
Looking to replace a 15-year-old physical education program and a 12-year-old vocal and general music program for elementary school students, Dr. Budd introduced updates to each of those academic areas — and told the board that those subjects should be reviewed and revised every five years going forward.
The new PE curriculum emphasizes health and wellness, seeks to develop “physically literate individuals,” and teaches life skills, Dr. Budd said.
He added that the music curriculum “will be richer,” including the introduction of digital technology.
Responding to a question from board member Susan LaFrance, he said that next week’s professional development day will include instruction for teachers by the district’s technology integrators and by an outside music education technology expert.
He added that he will update both of these curricula for middle and high school students by the end of the year.
A new approach
Dr. Budd followed those two curriculum overhauls with the implementation of two one-semester senior year electives — A Critical Approach to Popular Literature and Honors Dramaturgy.
Students in the the literature class will read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and Jonah Berger’s Why Things Catch On to learn how fiction becomes popular.
The seniors will then read — or for many, reread — Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and The Hunger Games, this time critically, and to understand why and how they became popular.
In Honors Dramaturgy, Trumbull High School students will learn about dramaturgists through studying a playwright’s alter ego.
A dramaturgist is the person who explains the underpinnings of the text of a play perhaps initially to the playwright herself, later to producers, and often even to directors and actors.
Students will read a number of plays, here too, critically.
Their takeaway will be “a greater understanding of what they see on stage,” Dr. Budd said.
Both courses are designed to improve “college readiness” and teach students “how to become active members of a classroom community,” the new curriculum director said.
Board member Loretta Chory asked if these were additions to THS’s course catalog.
Fellow member Rosemary Seaman told her that the new courses were “replacements for older courses with declining enrollment.”
Budd added that these courses “conform to new standards of college readiness,” and that few other districts have yet to pursue similar courses.