By Logan D.
Cougar News Blog
Cactus Canyon is booking up a new school year with Beyond Textbooks, a new program to bring out the best of Cactus Canyon.
Beyond Textbooks is a program that originated in the Vail Unified School District in Vail, Ariz. Essentially, BT is a program to maximize student achievement. It tells teachers what objective to teach, how long to teach it, and offers optional resources to help teachers find the best way to teach it.
When teachers go onto the curriculum site for their specific grade, they are presented a curriculum calendar and resources to help students master each objective. The calendar is the same for all teachers of a subject, but teachers can provide instruction in their specific style, that way teachers don’t have to be uncomfortable while teaching.
BT is an organized program, but teachers need to know if their students are understanding what they’re teaching. That’s where the common formative comes in. The common formative is a small, five-question test given usually at the end or beginning of the week. Its purpose is to see if the student has a grasp on the subject. If the student gets a four or five out of five then they have passed their formative and they’ve mastered the subject. If students get a three or less then they have to go to reteach, which is where students go if they have not mastered the subject. Teachers then get more one-on-one time with the student. After the lesson has been retaught, the student will retake their formative to see if they have mastered the subject yet.
“The BT framework will help get students the help and support they need with math and language arts,” said Principal Courtney Castelhano. ‘Students will be given weekly formatives to check for mastery. If students need more help, they will receive it during Study Skills time with objectives they need more help with. If they did well on the weekly formative, then students will receive an enriched Study Skills involving a variety of subjects.”
One reason BT improves schools who use it is connection. The teachers at CCJH can see what other teachers across the state are doing in their classrooms. Other teachers can post what lessons were a success or failure in their classroom Teachers at CCJH are utilizing these tips from other successful teachers to improve their own students and give them a better chance at success.
“Cactus Canyon adopted the Beyond Textbooks program as another tool for us as educators to better educate the students that come to this school and prepare them for high
school,” said math teacher Jeremy Seaman. “The program provides many useful tools, examples, and resources from other teachers around the state that we as educators here can use in our own classrooms.”
Cactus Canyon adopted BT partly because the school’s rating is at a C. CCJH wants to be better than a C, and some schools who have adopted the BT program have gone from a D to an A. AJUSD believes that the framework will help with student success. BT keeps everything organized,which helps make everything easier for both teachers and students. It is a very strict program and it uses Common Core standards.
“BT gives students more responsibility over their learning by knowing how they did on their weekly formative and receiving more help if they need it,” said Castelhano. “Students can feel successful over their learning by knowing exactly how they do every week in each of their core classes.”
BT helps teachers by breaking down everything that going to be taught, it will help improve Cactus Canyon and make each and every one of the students productive.
“The whole district adopted Beyond Textbooks because it helps to keep everyone organized and at the same place,” said eighth-grade math teacher Marla Aehlert. Also, other districts that have used Beyond Textbooks have had great results.”