NEWTOWN — The Board of Education, meeting Tuesday, March 7, learned about curriculum revisions to a senior elective course called Myth and the Modern World.

Abi Marks, chair of the English Department, explained that approximately 100 students take the course, which is offered at the college prep and honors level.

The revisions consolidated the course into three units, differentiated assessments and ensured skill-building alignment with the Connecticut Core Standards.

The concepts in Unit 1 are the functions of myth, self-evaluation, quest for meaning, storytelling and archetypes.

Students are assessed through essays, the application of archetypes to myths of various cultures and reflecting on how the myths speak to them.

Ms. Marks reviewed Unit 2, which looks at the hero’s journey to see how it emerges in a variate of stories by reading and analyzing hero myths as well as the hero cycle in modern film, with students’ personal reflections on system in their lives after they consider how heroes must function in systems.

Unit 3 looks at how heroines are presented in film, how myths are retold and the project of applying a critical lens to existing myths to interpret it in a new way.

One class decided to interpret a story as a stained-glass piece.

Students are encouraged to demonstrate critical thinking and to be creative.

Following the presentation, Chair Deborra Zukowski recognized the recurring themes that appear across cultures, asking if any students had dug into the material to see if there are any unique stories as she would like to hear about that research.

In other business, the board was updated on kindergarten through fifth grade math in the Bridges Math program.

The program provides consistency in the district for math students as well as provides a way to identify students who need more help or are doing well.

Another benefit of the program is the creation of a common vocabulary that students can use to communicate with teachers and each other.

During lessons, teachers pair off students or group them so they can have conversations, sharing how they solved problems.

Workplaces are similar to workbook sheets used in the past but the new approach is activity focused for hands on learning.

The program provides a low entry point with a high ceiling for learning opportunities.

Challenges embedded in the program, such as mathematical application problems, logical reasoning activities, and curricular extensions using real world problems, help teachers evaluate student learning.

Testimonials spoke to how students are having fun while learning; “And we know that this is how students learn best. They are working with partners and groups, giving them the opportunity to practice problem-solving and other important social skills such as taking turns, listening and playing fairly.”

When the board asked if any parts of the program need improvement, the presenting teachers said that the school district is still dealing with the effects of the pandemic and this is a factor in their evaluation.

But, they found the program to be very valuable overall, despite the work involved in learning and implementing it.

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