As part of its alignment with the Common Core curriculum standards, Trident Academy, a K5-12 independent school for students with language-based learning differences, brought in a nationally recognized curriculum and learning differences expert to work with the faculty. Becky Johnen spent a week with teachers prior to the start of the 2012-13 academic year.
“The faculty at Trident Academy are all so well grounded in teaching/learning theory, the Orton-Gillingham approach, and differentiated instruction that working with them was easy,” Johnen says. “I was able to tap into their expertise, passion, and enthusiasm for what they do and get them thinking just a little more about the relationship of curriculum, Common Core, and instructional delivery.”
Johnen focused on the importance and relevance of the Common Core standards to the curriculum and the congruence of the Common Core to the teachers’ curriculum maps. Through workshops, the faculty learned more about the use of curriculum maps in an ongoing assessment of curriculum and how they deliver the curriculum. Johnen also looked at the frameworks/taxonomies of leading experts Robert Marzano, Benjamin Bloom, and the Rigor/Relevance Framework of the International Center for Leadership in Education. Lastly, Johnen and faculty explored multisensory delivery techniques and how to match a delivery technique (and assessment devices) to learning styles, thinking skills, and the levels of frameworks/taxonomies.
“I was immediately impressed by the faculty’s warmth and genuineness. They were so open to ideas to enhance what they do,” Johnen explains. “They genuinely care about each and every student and by their questions to me of delivery techniques, they were most interested in finding more and better ways to teach their students. The atmosphere at the school (even before students arrived) was just so positive and encouraging; upbeat and lively, vibrant and dynamic.”
Johnen has served at nearly every level from classroom teacher and education specialist to associate dean of developmental education and head of school. She has instructed teachers on reading methodology as well as consulting on curriculum, technology, standards, and assessment. Johnen is also a popular speaker with more than 200 presentations under her belt, including “Services for Students with Disabilities… A Path Toward Success” and “Thinking Strategies, Comprehension Skills Through Listening and Reading.” She will publish “Borrowed Time” in Inspiring Voices in fall 2012.