Friday, August 29, 2014

Adventures in Curriculum Planning

Just read some posts from Teach 4 the Heart about Back to School (yes, my brain is slowly accepting the fact that Summer is over).  In particular I liked The Tiny Mistake That Can Ruin Your Year (and How to Avoid It),  What Not to Do the First Day of School, and Can We Really Believe in All Our Students?  

In my own preparation for back to school, I have been working a lot with planning out my curriculum this past week.  I've been especially interested in breaking up the 39 math standards that I have to teach into about 120 specific leaning targets or "I can" statements for scholars.  I've never done this with the standards before in such detail, and it's been interesting.  My goal with using learning targets this year is to help not only with assessment throughout the year, but to really target every skill that falls into the standards.  It will definitely be a learning experience, but I am optimistic.

I have also been going back and forth between using CMP3 (a more constructivist math curriculum) again vs a more direct teaching approach.  I love the format and approach of CMP3, but time constraints, and not enough specific skill development/ practice was a big concern of mine last year.  Like I've said before, at the end f last school year, I was fully prepared to not use it, but then the scores came back and not only did my kids do OK, but the 8th graders (who I had used CMP3 with as 7th graders) had really great improvements also.  As of right now, here is my vision for my curriculum this year:

  1. Follow the EngageNY 7th grade math scope & sequence
  2. 2 - 3 days a week for CMP3 problems (sometimes as a way to launch thinking, sometimes as a way to deepen thinking...)
  3. 2 - 3 days a week follow a more direct teaching model
  4. Assess, assess, assess standard mastery using the 2013 & 2014 annotated 7th grade math state test questions
  5. Be much more mindful of the performance tasks that I have my scholars do, whether they are from Inside Mathematics, CMP3 extensions, MARS tasks, or the DOE CC Library
The last new thing I have been looking lately has been lesson planning software.  My main reason for moving from Word documents to online for lesson planning is to really try something new that could potentially make planning and collaborating easier.  Specifically I have looked into planbook.com, planbookedu.com, and commoncurriculum.com.  There are pros and cons to all of them, but I think I am going to go with Common Curriculum.  It seems easy and I like the layout.  My big concern is that my school is also using Mastery Connect this school year and that is another new system to learn and I hope I am not biting off more than I can chew.  Plus I really hope that I keep up with the blogging because I do feel like it's been a good way for me to reflect so far, and I would hate for it to get lost in the business of the school year.  I'm staying positive!  After all, teaching is the greatest act of optimism ;)

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