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DCPS to Create New “City As a Classroom” Experience for Students

Sunday, May 11, 2014

DCPS to Create New “City As a Classroom” Experience for Students

New Taskforce Convening to Enrich Student Learning

A group of 30 District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) teachers, parents and central office launched a new task force to create “The City As Our Classroom” curriculum to support student learning. The task force will meet over the next several months to create a new, aligned guidance document for teachers to use to help students experience everything Washington, D.C. has to offer as part of their units of teaching for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year.

“Our city is filled with history, culture, experiences and sites that correspond with what our students are learning in their classroom,” said DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “I want our teachers to use our city to bring their classroom lessons to life for our students. D.C. has so much to offer – I am excited that this task force is going to create a comprehensive and living document to help us leverage the unique  cultural and natural resources of the District and beyond.”

The task force will review the K-12 literacy, math, science and social studies curriculum and develop a series of appropriate, meaningful experiential learning opportunities that correspond to the DCPS units of study within the curriculum aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

Task force participants were selected and represent a broad cross-section of the city, including  all parts of the city. The task force includes content experts, familiar with the curriculum, as well as parents for their insight into what will engage students in exciting, new ways. The community members also bring insight about the District and creative ideas, as some are native Washingtonians or have lived here for significant periods of time.

DCPS has a robust, consistent, standardized curriculum in use across the city, which allows for ways to create enrichment opportunities and curricular enhancements that bring existing units and lessons to life by using the city as a classroom. For example, in the 3rd grade reading/language arts unit "The Living World", there are opportunities for teachers and families to explore places in the city like the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, the United States Botanical Gardens, or the United States National Arboretum, that complement the classroom activities of that unit.

“This new task force is going to infuse enrichment in our classrooms in a brand new way,” said Brian Pick, chief in the Office of Teaching and Learning. “We have already made so many important strides in improving our curriculum and I know this new level of support for teachers will help make a real difference in how and what our students learn. When they can see this city in a whole new way, inside and outside of the classroom, we will create an environment for continuous learning.”

Over the next four months, the task force will spilt up into small groups. Each will focus on a specific grade band to target experiential learning in a way that is developmentally and age appropriate. The task force will conduct focus groups with teachers and school leaders. The final meeting will include presenting the findings to Chancellor Henderson. Upon final review, the document will be available to teachers for the start of the 2014-2015 school year.

More information about task force participants is available here.