just covering every standard or focusing on the important ones in depth?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by sonflawah, Nov 26, 2011.

  1. sonflawah

    sonflawah Companion

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    Nov 26, 2011

    This is my first year teaching science, and I already know that I will make some changes to my pacing plan for next year. However, with this year already in progress, I am forced to make a choice between just covering every standard or focusing on the most important standards in depth.

    I feel as if I just rush through and cover every standard, the students will not remember any of it by the time they are tested at the end of next year (only 8th graders have tests in science which covers 6th, 7th, and 8th grade standards). If I briefly cover every standard, the quality of education will go down and I'm afraid most of them won't "get it".

    I admit I have spent a little more than the necessary time covering topics thus far, and I will revise my pacing plan for next year. However, what do I do in the mean time? Just cover every standard or focus on covering the important ones in depth?

    Thanks!
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 26, 2011

    It's so much harder than you would have thought, isn't it???

    It sounds to me as though you need to keep your eye on the big picture and do more long range planning.

    I imagine some of the standards can be combined.

    Speak to other teachers in your school, your district,your state. Google the syllabus or pacing guides they follow.

    It's got to be a combination of the two. The kids have to learn all the necessary material, and they need the time to understand it all.

    Long range planning is incredibly important. You're very wise to take a look at it now, relatively early in the year, to ensure that you cover what you need to.
     
  4. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Nov 26, 2011

    I have really low level students this year. My principal has said several times that she would rather students know a few things really well than a lot of things superficially. However, she's also said that she expects most of my students to pass the state final. @@

    I will not have time to cover every standard in-depth. I do not have enough time with my higher-level students either - and we move at a much faster pace. I end up assigning independent research to those students in order to cover everything.

    So I end up covering what I think is most important and what the state considers most important. And then I introduce them to the other pieces.
     
  5. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Nov 26, 2011

    And again, this is why I want out. Well, let me rephrase that, because I don't truly want out...I want a solution! It's ridiculous that so many people, including adminiistration, fully recognize we can't always cover all the standards while also ensuring they fully understand them...but then those same people say, "But do it anyway."

    This year, our first with the new standards, I am just not going to hit everything. Just won't happen. Most? Yep. Prioritize? Yep. But this is as much a learning process for me as it the students. Normally, though, I hit every single standard and go deeper on the most important (decided by me and my colleagues).
     
  6. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    Nov 26, 2011

    Definitely speak to some other teachers about your concern. They may have a few tips to help. For instance, I could not figure out how to squeeze Science and Social Studies into the schedule at the end of the day.

    Some other teacher told me she covers a few of those concepts during the Reading Comprehension toolkit (A scripted (reading) program which really took 45 minutes of our day away), but in order to squeeze everything in we had to throw in some science and social studies with it. It was no magic solution but it did help a little bit. It's just way too much material to cover.

    Just like with integrating different subjects, you also may have to integrate some topics/standards that may reappear and build upon one another.

    :yeahthat: I couldn't stand feeling like I was contributing to the future failure of these students. How in the world could I justify moving on to more complex material when I knew we needed to spend a week (or maybe more) on basic concepts. All I could say is "the district (or state or government) makes me do it" (that's not a good enough excuse to me).
     
  7. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Nov 27, 2011

    Sit down with your standards and see what you have covered so far. Then look at what you still need to cover. Try to group some of these standards together to hit more of them in a unit or even a day lesson plan.

    But continue to emphasis the more important standards and spend less time on some standards that don't seem as important in the long run.
     
  8. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    Nov 27, 2011

    One thing that helped me last year was to find and print out the released questions from the CST to see what standards were more heavily tested. I think that you can also print out a blueprint of the questions; which standards have more questions than others. I also found some sites that had some prep concepts for science (I'm fifth). This is what we concentrated on. We'd gear the curriculum to the blueprints. I printed out some binder pages so that we could work on those concepts in a concentrated fashion. It was the best I could do. The ones who will get it will. I also assigned homework based on these concepts. At least it provided a guide for me to follow, so I wasn't going into too many directions.
     
  9. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Nov 27, 2011

    As far as I know, in CA the 8th grade test only covers 8th grade standards. The 7th grade standards aren't covered until the 10th grade life science test.

    Has your district ever done any vertical planning? If not, see if you can meet with the high school biology teachers. It's really annoying when the middle school teachers don't cover certain parts of the standards, or when some teachers do but others don't. With the way the standards spiral in CA, I don't have time to teach everything, and I need the students to have learned (and remember) some things in 7th grade science.
     
  10. Ranchwife

    Ranchwife Companion

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    Nov 27, 2011

    Yes, the California CST 8th grade science test only covers what the kids learn in 8th grade science and nothing from 6th or 7th grade. About 5 years ago I sat down with the high school science teachers and went over what they felt I should teach the 7th graders (I'm the only 7th grade science teacher in our district). We decided that to help them, kids really needed to know the cell standard, the genetics standard, and the evolution standard. We then decided that if there was time, the light and vision standard would be helpful. We also decided that I would teach the 12 body systems (which covers standard 5 and 6) because they never get to see how multi-cellular organisms are arranged and what the systems are and what they do. Since the books don't have any information on this, I've had to create the whole curriculum for this subject. Kids have to know the function of the system and the major organs. We then decided to throw out Earth's history and the geology section (standard 4).

    I hope that helps. Message me if you have any questions.
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 27, 2011

    That's wonderful Ranchwife.

    It's so frustrating to try to teach high school kids something they need to know, only to find a HUGE hole in their knowledge.

    They NEED to come into my class knowing the information they were supposed to have learned in elementary school. Whether or not it's on your state test, it's important if they're going to find success later down the road.
     
  12. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Nov 27, 2011

    Kate,

    Very well-stated!

    First off, my district offers "vertical planning" one day every other month (it is site-based, though--teachers don't meet with the subject area team members from other middle schools in the district).

    I would recommend that the original poster meets with other 7th grade science teachers in the district (hopefully she's not the only one). Additionally, she should meet with the 8th grade science teacher(s) to find out which standards are the "priority standards."

    I, too, have heard that the 8th grade science test here in CA only covers 8th grade material (I teach language arts, though, so I don't know first-hand).

    ~YTG

    P.S. Also, take a look at the CST release questions for 8th grade science: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sr/documents/rtqgr8science.pdf
     
  13. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Nov 27, 2011

    The problem with the CA science standards is that 8th grade science has nothing to do with 7th grade science. The 8th grade standards actually build on the 5th grade standards. The 7th grade teachers could teach no science at all, and no one would notice until the students take biology in high school. So vertical planning with the 8th grade teachers won't help the OP much, but planning with the high school biology teachers would.

    I really wish the science standards were organized differently. I once read/heard a suggestion that 7th and 8th grade science should focus on natural history, leaving the molecular stuff until high school when the students' brains are more ready for it. That would be so much better than a little bit of cells here and a little bit of atoms there and mammals and conifers nowhere!
     
  14. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Nov 27, 2011

    Definitely look for the CST Blueprint for science. It spells out very clearly which standards are not even tested and which are heavily so.

    And if you ever think you have it bad just look at the social studies standards and then think about the fact that our students are tested in 8th grade on 6th, 7th and 8th material.
     
  15. Ranchwife

    Ranchwife Companion

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    There is no blueprint for 7th grade science in California because it is not tested on the CST's.
     
  16. sonflawah

    sonflawah Companion

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    Unfortunately, I am the only 7th grade science teacher at my school and it is a charter school so we don't have planning time with the public high school biology teachers. *sigh*

    Thank you all for your great responses. I have looked at the standards, and decided which ones were more important and must be covered in depth. I thought the 8th grade science CST was just like the history CST and covered 6th, 7th, and 8th grade material. Looking at the biology CST has helped a lot. I'm mapping out the rest of year and sticking to the plan from now on. To make it more difficult, I'll be taking maternity leave in a month! So I'm hoping that doesn't throw everything out of whack and that I have a great replacement for 8 weeks.
     
  17. sonflawah

    sonflawah Companion

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    Nov 28, 2011

    VERY HELPFUL!! Thank you so much. :-D
     
  18. Ranchwife

    Ranchwife Companion

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    You're welcome. I know what it is like being the only teacher teaching a subject at a school. Let me know if you need any help!
     
  19. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Nov 29, 2011

  20. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    No, that blueprint is just for the high school biology standards. There is a life science test that 10th graders take that covers 6th and 7th grade standards as well as biology standards, but I don't think they made a blueprint for it.
     
  21. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    The 8th grade teachers keep telling us (the 6th grade Language Arts and Social Studies "Core" teachers) that the 8th grade Social Studies test covers a lot of what is taught in 6th grade! :eek:

    What really stinks is that our district is telling us (the 6th grade Language Arts and Social Studies "Core" teachers) that we need to focus on Language Arts since our 6th graders are only tested on LA and Math.

    How's that for mixed messages? :dizzy:
     
  22. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Nov 29, 2011

    Well, it's not like the social studies test actually counts for anything important... :p
     

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