1.30.2016

Curriculum


If you ever have the chance to make a big purchase, over anything else, I recommend a curriculum.

When I first started teaching {seven years ago} I was given textbooks and the worksheet workbooks that come with them. The end.

The next year we received a grant and an instructional coach who introduced me to the Common Core Standards. A currciulum was unheard of at that time that aligned to CCSS. I didn't really know how to create lessons or good assessments or a curriculum at all. The coach helped me a lot and shared some lessons from other teachers as well.

Over the next few years I became very active on Twitter and math blogs and I began to beg borrow and steal any and all lessons I could, just to have something to teach or 'cover' a standard.

In years five through seven, I began to feel more confident in my ability to create lessons and activities and assessments. Although not to a level that I could comfortably call CCSS. But I had a curriculum.

Year 6 I became the only math teacher of all 4 preps. A whole new course to design. Hooray.

Year 7 an online senior math course was cut and added to my schedule. A whole new course to design. Hooray. 5 preps.

And all along I had a sinking feeling deep down. "This curriculum isn't aligned. It's not good enough. It's not even close to Common Core level. You're skipping important stuff. You're never going to fit it all in. You're teaching too slow. You're not preparing your students for college. Our math program is not as good as surrounding schools. You're lecturing too much. Everything you do is packets. You're boring. You're not doing a good job. You're failing."

This all came to a head in a meeting that didn't go well and left me feeling like a failure. I began to really hate my job for a few weeks. Like hated every day, complained, woke up mad to go to work, and really re-thinking my career choices. I was so unhappy.

I e-mailed some math teacher friends from another school and they mentioned a curriculum they had bought for one course. I looked into it and there were complete curriculums for 3 of my 5 preps. Hooray!

I presented them to my admin and used the bad meeting as a way to show them I need more support. {Short note: Although there are many disadvantages in working at a small school, like say, they won't hire another math teacher; they have always supported me with the resources I need and of course, sending me to TMC every year!}

They bought all three.

It has been great so far. {I don't really want to discuss the curriculum, this is a general praise for any curriculum that you don't have to make!}

No curriculum is perfect or complete. But what a curriculum does is give you a foundation.

Before, my lesson planning consisted of opening a blank Word Document, googling a topic, begging on Twitter, and browsing blogs and Pinterest.

Now my lesson planning consists of cutting, copying, and pasting. I started the curriculum halfway through a school year so I can't just go with it. But now my brain has been freed up to make improvements and activities. I don't have to create every single thing so now I have the freedom to create really good things. I've made task cards, dry erase templates, puzzles, and games.

Before I looked at a blank page and thought, how can I fill this? Now, I look at the base and think of how to make it better, how to boost student engagement, how to make it interesting.

It's an important shift.

When you have to create every detail of 5 courses, there isn't always time for creativity and engagement. Sometimes it's just having a worksheet made for all seven periods.

So what I'm saying is this...maybe you can't find or afford your dream curriculum. Maybe you're stuck with a curriculum you don't love. But if you can somehow swing a curriculum to act as your base, your foundation....then you have time and freedom to build.

One good thing at a time.


P.S. If you're an administrator reading this, please please please, make sure all of your teachers have some kind of curriculum provided for them- especially newbies!

17 comments:

  1. What curriculum did you get? This post really resonated with me--I've struggled with the "create from a blank page" and with the lack of alignment (especially between MYP and DP IB curriculum in our 6-12 school). Also really trying to focus on creating really good things and cutting down on time spent planning...maternity leave ends today and I'm really scared of failing to complete my work before daycare pickup.

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  2. I completely agree with you. I have been baffled by the amount of math Ts on twitter that make up all their own stuff. Until twitter I had no idea there were districts that let/expected their teachers to wing it making up their own activities. It was eye opening for sure. This is year 4 of using Carnegie Learning curriculum and though it's not perfect, it is a great resource that I use as the foundation. This year we are doing UBD so we are adjusting the units to meet our needs that is something we did not have the capacity to do these past few years as we transitioned to workshop two years ago, SBG last year, and now UBD. We have enough work on our plates every year without adding curriculum design. I think the majority of Ts would not feel qualified for such a huge undertaking in addition to actually have to teach every day and myriad responsibilities that entails. Glad your load has been lightened with some curriculum!

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  3. My school is currently going through a shift so next year we will be creating a good majority of our stuff from scratch and/or a mix of whatever we can find. Luckily they are going to be giving us money for the next year to purchase a curriculum. I am also very interested in what curriculum you found that gave you such a great base. It would be something that my department could look into as we search for our next curriculum.

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  4. Can anyone point in the right direction for finding examples of available high school math curricula? Our department is currently in the process of looking at adopting new books and I have just looked at every textbook/company and seen the same old stuff with a new cover on it. I am very much in the same camp of having been given a textbook and that's it a couple years ago when I started. I would love to at least see what the alternatives are. Thanks!

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing this! I'm feeling a lot of the same things you did since I went from being on a team of teachers who all taught from the same curriculum (that we all felt the need to add to, but we did it together), to being the only teacher at a small school teaching my four classes. And on top of it, in my interview the superintendent even said to me, "Our curriculum isn't very good so you probably will want to find a new one." Instead I've been stealing from all over the #MTBoS (the #MTBoS Search Engine has been a sanity-saver) and am finally starting to get in a groove. But I agree, my next task is to find a curriculum to use because, as a new teacher, I know that I need some direction. Thanks again for sharing this!

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  6. I am also very interested in knowing what curriculum was purchased and if there were any others that you considered. Please share the information, if you can. Thanks!

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  7. For those of you looking for curriculum, we use the Mathematics Vision Project curriculum. It is free curriculum written for the CCSS by 5 educators in Utah. You can find the complete curriculum at www.mathematicsvisionproject.org. I have loved teaching out of it. It is written for an integrated system (Math 1, 2 and 3 rather than Alg 1, Geo and Alg 2) however their units could be rearranged to fit a traditional system.

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  8. Another free option is http://emathinstruction.com/free-etextbooks/

    If you want more information about the curriculum I'm using, please leave your e-mail and I'll be happy to explain.

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    1. Hi! I am just seeing this a year later, but I'd love to know what you chose and what your experience has been! Thanks josie.delduca@cdssh.org (can you or I delete this comment after you respond so my e-mail is not out here "in space"?)

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  9. I'd love to hear more about both the curriculum you are using and any other options that you looked into while deciding. My email is mr.crouch.blhs@gmail.com

    Thanks so much!

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  11. This is so wonderful for you! I have a curriculum but you have been such an inspiration to create and do my own thing. I have grown to be so much more confident because of you! Congrats! I use big ideas math Algebra and geometry if you use their curriculum! If not either way... I do love some of their platforms. I'm sure it's pretty well aligned either way!

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    1. Alexandra that is amazing! I'm so glad you are building your confidence and I hope you never stop creating. Thanks for your encouraging comments! :)

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  12. In 1962, Kalyanji Bhagat started the Satta Matka. Rattan Khatri introduced the New Worli matka in 1964, with slight modifications to the rules of the game. Kalyanji Bhagat's matka ran for all days of the week, whereas Rattan Khatri’s matka ran only five days a week, from Monday to Friday.
    During the flourishing of textile mills in Mumbai, many mill workers played satta matka, resulting in bookies opening their shops in and around the mill areas, predominantly located in Central Mumbai. Central Mumbai became the hub of the satta matka business in Mumbai.

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  13. I would love information on your curriculum. My email in bncfletcher@gmail.com

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  14. I would love information on your curriculum as well. My email is ms7math@yahoo.com.

    Thank you!

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