Cotting School’s Unique Summer Curriculum Institute

Four Cotting School TeachersMeet Cotting School educators Lizzy Abel, Mary Curtin, Megan Hennessey, and Lola Piscopo. Collectively they’ve taught at Cotting School for 23 years. This summer they are putting their years of special education expertise to work in a way that most teachers only dream of. They aren’t teaching a classroom of students, but instead are focused on the research and development of specialized curriculum and instruction methods. Their summer work, funded by The Peabody Foundation will focus on advancing the repertoire of literacy lessons and activities as well as broadening the cross-curricular ties to create meaningful learning experiences for Cotting students.

In school settings more typical than Cotting, school districts format a comprehensive curriculum that corresponds to the state framework and meets the needs of a majority of students in the district who are performing at or near grade-level. At Cotting School, our student population is so diverse in age and ability that we cannot rely on standard available curricula to meet all our students’ diverse learning styles. We have found that we need to develop, adapt, or create our own.

Cotting’s Summer Curriculum Institute, first launched in 2010, gives Cotting faculty members the opportunity to spend five weeks in the summer working solely on improving instructional practice and resources. This team will work together to explore long term projects, assess current students’ learning needs, research strategies for instruction, and develop curriculum materials specifically designed to meet the unique needs of Cotting School students.

Below are just a few of the goals that have been identified as part of the Summer of 2019 Curriculum Institute:

  • Researching and compiling resources to create a more robust comprehension strategies program
  • Creating Books and teacher materials for the 40 additional “Core Words”
  • Identifying an appropriate program for our oldest non-readers that incorporates functional words, environmental print, and work vocabulary
  • Providing continued Reading & Language Assessment of new and returning students
  • Creating and providing teachers with systems for short and long term data collection and tracking

The Summer Curriculum Institute is a critical component in the curriculum development process at Cotting School. During the school year, teaching staff gather data about student performance and meet in teams to review educational trends and instructional needs. Although adjustments to instruction for individual students and classrooms occurs throughout the year, this data and analysis provides the foundation for the systematic advancement embraced by the Summer Curriculum Institute educators. This undertaking would be impossible to balance with a teaching schedule. Cotting School is grateful to The Peabody Foundation for the generous funding provided to make this program possible.

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