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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Worrisome curriculum

I'm having a bit of trouble with our new math curriculum. I actually like how detailed it is, and how there's a pretty good script to follow for talking with the kids. However, I don't always feel like I'm getting a lot accomplished.

The big push this year is to implement a lot of "High Level Tasks" or HLTs (not to be confused with TLC). The tasks themselves have been interesting enough, but they seem more designed for a class full of take charge, go-getter, ACTIVELY PARTICIPATING students, as opposed to newly minted, reluctant, shy, often-lazy 3rd graders.

Several times, the kids have not completed the task in the time allotted. Including today, when I even broke down and modeled the first part for them (after seeing absolutely no progress for the first 15 minutes) -- then proceeded to see a few instances of decent partner work, but little to no recording on paper.

When we DO finish the task (and even when we don't), there's almost no time left for anything else. I typically like to have some time to spiral back on what we've done before so they don't forget; to practice things in a slightly different way; to work with small groups of lower kids; to go over HW when it applies, etc. But there's just no time allotted for that with this new curriculum.

We also apparently don't even get around to covering addition and subtraction until the end of this first 6-weeks period. And I have a LOT of kids who don't know how to subtract, or even how to align numbers vertically to add them.

Today was the 12th day of classes. It has been a very stressful 12 days of school so far. I haven't even gone into all of the "stuff" (being nice here) that's being asked of us outside of the actual teaching.

Anybody else out there want to sound off about your year so far?


Christy said...

that would be really frustrating. And it's one of the reasons I am so hesitant about standardized curriculum. On the one hand, it would make life at a high-turnover school like mine much easier, but on the other hand, you end up in scenarios like this, with curriculum designed for (apparently) someone else's kids. Hope things level out soon.

TeacherFromTN said...

Awww. We are feeling your pain with all the "STUFF"! Yes, we, too, have a new math series. We are using enVision Math, and it is super fast-paced. We have 20 "topics" to cover by big test time. So far, our goal seems to be quite the opposite of no child left behind. Next gripe--evaluations! The process is changing dramatically in our state, and it is going to kill us all. We are graded on a 1 - 5 rubric, with 5 being best. We have already been told that no one gets fives. Umm....then why have that as a possibility on the rubric? We were even told when planning lessons, not to look at the "5" section on the rubric--"just look at and go for the "3" since that would make you a rock solid teacher." Say what??
By the way, LOVE the book! : )

Julia said...

I'm also in Dallas ISD and the main thing I notice is there is no TIME for anything! We lost a planning period and we have to clock-in earlier and the school day ends later. I feel exhausted and it's way too early for that.

Mister Teacher said...

Christy, thank you so much for the well wishes.

TN, enVision sounds REALLY familiar. I can't remember if it was just one of the curriculums that we looked at 2 years ago, or if we actually used it once. BTW, the brand new curriculum that we DID adopt 2 years ago is being sparingly used by this new Dallas curriculum (of course it's way more than WE used it last year).

Julia, that's just it! No TIME! The first 45 minutes of each day has to be devoted to a SPECIFIC activity, per our principal, and then we don't have that leeway to do a few extra things that we used to have!

ladysantora said...

I feel like it should be May already and it's only September!

Anonymous said...

$5 says those of you talking about no time are in DISD's north learning community. I think the ridiculous expectations (meetings ALL the freaking time despite having lost a planning period, clocking in not even a second late, etc.) are trickling down from the top of the NLC. Maybe we should migrate to the South.

Mister Teacher said...

Anon, I really don't even think it's coming from the learning community. It's the principal.

And Lady S, you are TOTALLY right!