UNC Asheville faculty will begin intensive work this summer with teams of teachers from Asheville City and McDowell County Schools to help the schools implement new state standards, provide more intellectually rigorous instruction, and support teaching of “big ideas.”
The project, “Teaching Enduring Understanding: Literacy Across the Curriculum,” will be undertaken in partnership with the National Paideia Center, and is funded by a $280,456 U.S. Department of Education grant awarded as part the University of North Carolina system’s NC Quest program. Meg Moss, UNC Asheville Education Department chair and assistant professor of mathematics education, is project director.
The project gets under way this summer when teachers from Asheville Middle School and the two McDowell County junior high schools begin working with UNC Asheville faculty to produce a minimum of 12 model units of study reflecting the new Common Core State Standards in language arts and math, and the NC Essential Standards in science and social studies. Faculty from many different UNC Asheville departments and experts from the National Paideia Center will provide support and training to the middle school teachers, who in turn will help train their colleagues.
“The project should give teachers a greater understanding of the new Common Core State Standards, increase expertise in the content areas, and provide training in Paideia methodology for discussion of big ideas,” said Asheville Middle School Literacy Coach Melissa Hedt. “We hope to develop a collaborative network of teachers within the middle schools with links to UNC Asheville faculty. Together we’ll plan specific lessons and activities with targeted reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.”
Hedt and Brook Mabry, McDowell County Schools instructional coach, will coordinate their schools’ participation in the project. The schools will choose their teams of teachers later this spring.
After working with UNC Asheville faculty to develop the lessons and units, teachers will use them in their classrooms during the 2013-14 school year, with support and advice from the university faculty members. The success of the lessons will be evaluated during the summer of 2014 by an external evaluator. All planning materials for the teaching units will also be posted online for use by middle schools throughout North Carolina and across the country.
Project participants from UNC Asheville will include: Meg Moss, Education Department chair and assistant professor of mathematics education; Reid Chapman, lecturer in education and coordinator for grades 6-12 social studies licensure; Merritt Moseley, chair and professor of literature and language; Dot Sulock, lecturer in mathematics; Judy Beck, lecturer in physics and science education.
From the National Paideia Center, Terry Roberts, director, and Laura Billings, associate director, will participate. The external evaluator will be David Strahan, Botner Distinguished Professor of Middle Grades Education at Western Carolina University.