On April 27, 2018 the Concept English Volunteer Advisory Board came together in Chicago to review and suggest updates for the 2018/2019 6-12th grade English curriculum. It was exciting to see that the average number of years our advisory have served Concept Schools is over 7, collectively. Their willingness to volunteer is an outstanding show of commitment and support for our students and teachers. As a number of them said, “I feel like Concept would be an even better institution if teachers were more involved.” 

We defined curriculum as a tool for planning instruction that provides explicit guidelines (rules) and resources to help teachers design daily instruction for reading, writing, speaking, and listening. We agreed that while we must provide a broad scope and sequence (number of days and key readings/assessments), we do not want to “do the work for the teacher” because doing so will take away from teacher ownership.

The Advisory Board agreed that we will provide a model Unit/Collection 1 with Part A, B, and C for each grade level. This model will include actual lessons, resources, activities, and strategies from our Concept teachers. In addition, if teachers are uncomfortable coming to the Director of English, breaking down and using the units might lead teachers so see how we have done it and then try it themselves.

The other units 2-6 for grade levels 6-12 will not be broken down but will have new resources attached from teachers throughout the network. Our data has repeatedly shown that many teachers may not know that our units have over 1,000 attachments and links. For example, Unit/Collection 1 has 53 attachments including lesson plans, PowerPoints, strategies, activities, and videos.

 We also believe it is key that administrators ask teachers to do the following:

  1. Teachers delete the name Master Curriculum and put their name on it.
  2. Teachers, before teaching a unit, annotate the Unit Overview with teacher changes – submit to administrations/Director/Department Chair.
  3. Teachers fill in the information, dates,  and resources for Parts A, B, and C
  4. Teachers put daily lesson plans under Parts A, B, and C (not, for example Facing Fears ALL Resources) – dates can be changed for the Part A – 2 weeks, Part B- 3 weeks, and Part C – 2 week format totaling a 6-7 week average for each unit.
  5. Teachers attach resources to their units – Read, Write, Activity, Lesson Plan, Strategy, Information, etc.
  6. Administration informs Concept English about training gaps so we can help new teachers
  7. Administration ensures that teachers have resources and online access to materials through the appropriate vendor.


We spoke at length about ways to encourage our schools to develop literacy plans and teams that address the literacy standards in all subjects. We encourage schools to have a “common language” and to share rubrics for short response questions and what good readers do. Our shared experience reminded us how important it is to have department meetings, common planning time, and the ability to communicate across subject areas as well as up and down grade levels to make sure we are truly serving the needs of ALL students. We recognized that our work is not separate from school literacy and advocate for stronger collaboration, communication, and coherence between ALL administrators, departments, and directors.

We will be working hard in the next few weeks to finish the models for Unit/Collection 1 grades 6-12, and then spending the following month gathering and updating the additional master units with additional resources gathered from our teachers. Final curriculum updates will be available by July 16, 2018.

We thank all of the teachers in the Concept network for their hard work and dedication. A special thank you goes out to the teachers who have shared their resources/best practices: Megan Alexander (HSA Lorain), Elsa Cadwallader (HSA Southwest), Sara Cart (HSA Lorain), Lenore Fox-Monti (HSA Southwest), Sarah Newton (GSA Fyler), and Stephen Pishnery (HSA Lorain).

Below are the members of our Volunteer Advisory Team.

Danielle Blackstone – HSA Columbus Middle (6th and 7th grade)

Tyesha Bowens – MMSA Dequindre (11th and 12th grade)

Reanna Laszlo –  HSA Lorain (7th and 8th grade)

Megan McKinley – HSA Cleveland (9th grade and other)

Heather Petrella – HSA Belmont (8th grade)

Jamie Pryslak – Noble Cleveland 7th grade and other)

Joseph Schmith – HSA McKinley Park (9th and 10th grade)