• Put Your Best Digital Footprint Forward

    Seventh grade students in the District are busy learning the skills to work safely and effectively in a digital world as they participate in the new middle school elective “Digital Literacy.” Through applications of technology in the classroom, they are answering questions about safe and personal use of media, intellectual property, copyright, proper use of electronic communications, and creating their digital footprint. By the end of the course, students are able to appropriately use technology resources in preparation for the complex life and work environments of today.

    What do students think about the new course?

    “My digital footprint is important because ‘it’s ANYTHING from my digital history.’” -Tom Janoski, Edison

    “I didn’t know about it (my digital footprint) before and it’s scary.” - Sydney Musser, Edison

    "Cyberbullying is not right because it affects peoples' personal lives."- Sheyenne Ferguson, Franklin

    "Digital Literacy teaches you to think about everything you do before you put it on the Internet."- Anna Rench, Franklin

    Students in Digital Literacy

    It Was a Real “Whodunit”

    District 200 juniors and seniors are hard at work this semester applying scientific methods that integrate technology to solve crime investigations. Forensic Science, a new high school science elective, teaches basic knowledge of proper crime scene procedures and evidence processing that includes: trace evidence, DNA, fingerprints, impression evidence, forensic anthropology, analysis of glass, serology, and questionable documents.

    Partially funded through a grant from Bosch, students are using computer interfaces that connect to real-time temperature, colorimeter, and conductivity sensors. These sensors, along with fingerprint scanners, cameras, microscopes, and ultraviolet lamps help students analyze and explain a variety of scenarios. Forensics, and the integration of technology into the classroom, is the basis of a unique curriculum that addresses real-world applications and fosters analytical thinking and problem solving among the students.

    Students are thrilled about the new class. "I was so pumped when they said they were going to offer forensic science as a class for senior year! It is so fun, and really makes you think on your toes! I would suggest taking this class to anyone...so take it," said Hannah Neilson, a senior at Wheaton North. Tim Kutz, another senior at Wheaton North agrees. “Forensics is awesome because it brings clarity to things we see every day on the news and TV shows."

    WN & WWS Forensics Students

    Implementation of Professional Learning Communities

    In June 2010, Illinois became one of 45 other states and the District of Columbia to adopt the Common Core Standards for public education. The new common core curriculum provides a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn and is relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers (www.corestandards.org).

    District 200 will begin implementation of the new state standards in the Fall of 2013 with math and will implement English & language arts in the Fall of 2014 at all levels of education. Implementation of a new framework of curriculum is no easy task. In order to effectively implement the new curriculum and ensure that students are learning at high levels, District 200 will build and utilize Professional Learning Communities.

    A Professional Learning Community (PLC) is an opportunity for teachers to meet to discuss best instructional practices in the classroom. No one teacher can meet the needs of all students; rather, we believe our collective and collaborative efforts have a much better chance of meeting the needs of all students.

    A PLC is a system that enables and supports teams of teachers to be experts. In order to support collaboration and professional development time for teachers, District 200 must carve out time from a teacher’s schedule to provide that opportunity. Teacher collaboration time will be a structured meeting time designed to discuss student learning based on data from classroom assessments. 

    PLC time will look a little different depending on the level. At the elementary level, many of our District schools have created time at grade level meetings already. Similarly, at the middle school level, staff will be grouped by those who teach similar courses and will have a common meeting time during the school day. At both the elementary and middle levels, teacher contract negotiations may bring other solutions as well. 

    PLC time at the high school level will be a notable, but necessary change for families in the District. Starting next school year, there will be twelve late arrival days for high school students. Currently, the time afforded high school teachers for collaboration is extremely limited. With the late arrivals, all of our teachers will have dedicated time to have structured, thoughtful, and data-driven conversations about student learning.

    On those days when PLCs meet at the high school level, buses will continue to run at regular times, so students will have the option to arrive late or at the regular time. Should they choose to ride the bus, we will have the commons and cafeteria set up to function as study halls, with one section dedicated to quiet study. On late arrival days, all class periods will still meet, except for a briefer period of time. Evidence from the research that has been conducted on PLCs suggest that because teachers are given time to target their learning goals more effectively, student performance is enhanced. 

    All of the changes regarding PLCs are an exciting step for our District as we will now have the opportunity to meet on a regular basis to address the needs of our students. If you have questions regarding Common Core or PLCs, please contact Faith Dahlquist, Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services, at 630-682-2023.

    21st Century Changes to Middle School Curriculum

    Beginning this fall, middle school students will have the opportunity to take several new elective courses designed to ensure that our students are better prepared for the 21st century. Why the change? As educators, it is our job to match what students will need to be productive citizens in the 21st century. Additionally, the changes align middle school curriculum to the new common core curriculum. According to Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services, Faith Dahlquist, “The new middle school electives truly support our District’s alignment with the new common core standards and better prepare our students for college or career.”

    Some of the new middle school electives are based on curriculum from Project Lead the Way (PLTW) - a leading provider of rigorous and innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education curricular programs used in middle and high schools across the United States. STEM education is at the heart of today’s high-tech, high-skill global economy. For America to remain economically competitive, our next generation of leaders, the students of today, must develop the critical-reasoning and problem-solving skills that will help make them the most productive in the world.

    STEM education programs like the one offered by Project Lead the Way at the District’s middle schools starting in Fall of 2012, will engage students in activities, projects, and problem-based learning, which provides hands-on classroom experiences. Students create, design, build, discover, collaborate and solve problems while applying what they learn in math and science. Students are also exposed to STEM fields through professionals from local industries who supplement the real-world aspect of the curriculum through mentorships and workplace experiences (www.pltw.org).
    Below are the electives that will be offered this fall.

    Grade 6
    Grade 7
    Grade 8
    Collaboration and Leadership Digital LiteracyDigital Authorship
    DramaDesign and Modeling (PLTW)Entrepreneurship
    Visual ArtsSpeechPerformance Seminar
    Vocal MusicVisual Arts & Media Automation and Robotics (PLTW)
    Navigating Informational Sources
    Visual Arts

    All of the electives offered are either new courses or existing courses that were re-designed to ensure that students are learning 21st century skills and incorporate components of Project Lead the Way. For more information including course descriptions, please click here.