The CUNY HSE Curriculum Framework--Professional Development Recommendations

This resource looks at suggested professional development activities for social studies, science, mathematics, and other content areas. 

John Mogulescu
Suri Duitch
Leslee Oppenheim
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
The City University of New York
Publication Year
Resource Type
Number of Pages

As teachers, we are always on the lookout for ideas and materials to help our students learn more productively. Most of us agree that it’s handy to have someone else who isn’t preoccupied with the daily demands of classroom teaching to have already thought about which areas in a crowded curriculum to focus on, the key questions to ask, the texts to read, the essay topics to assign, and the best resources—online and in print—to rely on. For teachers, this helps to minimize the burden of daily preparation and allows more time to focus on students, and how well they are learning. But picking up a curriculum framework, or a guide or a set of lessons that someone else has written and using them to guide instruction, also takes work. What follows are suggestions on how to dig into these curricular materials and adapt them for use with your own students. The plan for professional development described below can be taken on by an individual teacher, or because we as teachers have a great deal to learn from each other, the discussions can easily happen in small groups.

What the experts say

This resource would be useful for those responsible for professional development at the state, regional and local level. State staff, program administrators, and local professional developers would find these resources extremely beneficial in planning job-embedded professional development activities. The materials are well organized and each activity is explained in a well-written, easy to follow, step-by-step manner. A strength of these professional development materials is that they draw teachers directly to the CUNY HSE Curriculum Framework and the exemplary lesson plans and teacher resources included there. There is a strong emphasis on enhancing teachers’ content knowledge, especially in the Math and Science sections.

This CUNY HSE Curriculum Framework is particularly welcome since there are few published materials that are well-aligned to the College and Career Readiness Standards—as these teaching materials clearly are. Thus, not only do the professional development activities in Section 6 reflect best practices in professional development, they also invite teachers to explore the CUNY HSE Curriculum Framework, including piloting the lesson plans and discussing the materials in depth through a variety of highly engaging activities.

All of the activities outlined in these materials encourage collaboration among teachers. The authors acknowledge that geography can sometimes make collaboration difficult; therefore, they recommend taking advantage of various technology platforms to make teacher collaboration feasible.

Section 6 of the CUNY HSE Curriculum Framework focuses on professional development activities. Similar to the Curriculum Framework as a whole, this section is organized by content area and includes specific, step-by-step professional development activities related to Social Studies, Science, and Math. A strength of these professional development resource is that it draws teachers to the many useful lesson plans and teaching materials in the Curriculum Framework itself and engages teachers in examining, implementing, and reflecting on the materials in a variety of ways. Also included is a list of recommended online resources.

Every professional development activity in this resource is excellent. Several specific activities for enhancing teachers’ content knowledge and pedagogical practices are described below.

Suggested Professional Development Activities for Social Studies: Integrating Reading and Writing

In Activity 1: “Review of the Teaching and Learning Principles” of the Social Studies section, Teachers read about each principle in the introduction to the Social Studies lessons in the Curriculum Framework. They discuss examples of each principle as illustrated in the Social Studies lesson plans and identify one additional example for each principle.

The principles include:
• Implement a Content-Based Approach
• Integrate Reading and Writing with Learning Content
• Stimulate Active Learning
• Provide Scaffolded Instruction
• Plan for Collaborative Learning
• Encourage Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning

Social Studies Activity 2: “Review of Reading Instruction” focuses on teaching reading with Social Studies content. Teachers are invited to read and discuss “Effective practices for developing reading comprehension” by Duke and Pearson (2002), which is freely available online. This article highlights what good readers do and provides guidelines for teachers to support learners’ reading comprehension. The professional development activity draws teachers to the CUNY HSE Curriculum Framework Social Studies lessons to look for evidence of reading strategies instruction. Teachers discuss how different strategies are used with different text types.

In Social Studies Activity 3: “Summarizing and Paraphrasing,” teachers are invited to view a video on the Teaching to the Core website that features strategies for paraphrasing and summarizing. Teachers discuss the process for summarizing and paraphrasing and make connections to their own practice. They then look for material in the Social Studies lessons for examples of teaching paraphrasing and summarizing.

Activity 4: “Anatomy of a Reading Lesson” in the Social Studies section, teachers view another Teaching to the Core video activity featuring the elements of a reading lesson, i.e., pre reading, during reading and post reading. Similar to Activity 3, teachers examine the Social Studies lessons for how the lessons incorporate the elements of reading.

The Social Studies section also includes guidance on “Lesson Development and Using the Social Studies Curriculum Map” which outlines the steps for teachers to collaborate on designing effective lessons. The seven steps include
1. Identifying key concepts
2. Determining student background knowledge
3. Choosing texts
4. Identifying strategies
5. Identifying vocabulary
6. Designing a prompt and pre-writing activity
7. Designing review activities and next steps

Suggested Professional Development Activities for Science: Matter and Energy

For Activity1: “Introduction to Teacher Matter” in the Science section, teachers read an online article by scientist Richard Feynman and are asked to annotate the article they read, to identify questions and new learning. This activity also engages teachers in discussing interesting quotes from the Feynman piece. Through these activities, teachers are engaging in effective strategies they can use with adult learners.

In Activity 2: “States of Matter,” teachers view a video of Richard Feynman on YouTube, “Fun to Imagine: Jiggling Atoms.” The Science section encourages teachers to incorporate demonstration in their science lessons. As part of this activity, teachers are shown a photo of a glass of ice water in summer. They are asked to write a short paragraph discussing why water beads up on the outside of a cold glass. After writing, teachers work in groups of 2 or 3 to share their explanations with one another and make connections made to the Feynman video.

Suggested Professional Development Activities for Math: Problem-Solving in Functions and Algebra

The first three activities in the Math section of this resource engage teachers in viewing and discussing Teaching to the Core videos on Activity 1: “Student-Centered Classroom,” Activity 2: “Revealing Student Thinking,” and Activity 3: “Perseverance in the Math Classroom.”

The focus of the Math section is captured in the following quote from Activity 4: “Making the Lessons and Teachers Supports Your Own” in which teachers are asked to choose one of the lessons to implement, reflect on the lesson in writing and then talk with one another about what worked well and what they might want to change when teaching the lesson again.

“We want every math teacher to be more confident than they were two years ago and not as confident as they are going to be five years from now. Teachers need time, respect and support for that to happen. Change happens slowly. So does learning. Our motto for professional growth has been “Make a small change, and then do it again.” Our motto for professional development is to give teachers a safe place to reflect on that process.”

In the Math section, there is a strong emphasis on teachers examining students’ mathematical thinking. Activity 6: “Teacher Reflection,” refers participants to an article “Reflective Teaching: A Focus on Student Thinking in Problem-Solving” found in the “Teacher Reflection” in that Math part of the CUNY HSE Curriculum Framework. A set of questions guide teachers to focus on “planning, responding to student work, reflecting and improving practice.” The CUNY HSE Curriculum Framework also includes samples of in depth math teacher reflections focused on students’ mathematical reasoning that can be utilized in professional development for reflecting on practice and for collaborative discussions.

This resource is recommended to be a "required" professional development training to all adult education teachers. The CUNY Curriculum Framework  resource is filled with valuable teaching practices.  The resource provides information and examples on how teachers can focus on key questions to ask, videos to watch, texts to read, essay questions and topics to assign and the best resources on line and in print so that students will be more engaged in learning across all subject areas.

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