What should I be doing to learn my new curriculum?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by waterfall, Jun 17, 2012.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Jun 17, 2012

    I am just curious about what the "norm" is as far as familiarizing yourself with a new curriculum. My reading curriculum seems really straightforward- I'm just planning on skimming through the first few weeks to make sure I know how the lessons go, etc. and then obviously once it gets closer I'll start actually planning the lessons for the first unit. I actually used it awhile back in a practicum placement, so I'm not very worried. My math curriculum is totally new/different than what I'm used to (we're doing the americanized version of singapore math), so I am taking an online class just to familiarize myself with the strategies and common language of this version of math. The school sets the pace of the curriculum and what is to be taught when, so I don't need to map that out myself. When I went to meet with my new grade level team they printed out the first unit for me, so I planned on really taking a close look at that before school starts.

    My dad is making me feel lazy :eek:! I was visiting home this past week and he has his new math curriculum (he's at a totally new grade level, one he has not taught before) spread out over the table and is going through the entire book cover to cover! He's reading the teacher's manual, and then going through the student workbook and doing all of the exercises pinpointing what may be difficult, etc. for each chapter. He's been getting up early every day and spending 2-3 hours on this. I feel like I would forget it all by the time february or march rolled around and I actually got to those later topics. I plan on looking at the unit guides (once I have them all) just so I know what the "big picture" of the year is and what will be taught later on, but I wasn't really planning to go through the entire book chapter by chapter or anything. Should I be? Am I being naive in thinking that I can plan this all during the school year? My thinking was that many new teachers wouldn't even have their curriculum that far in advance, so it can't be all that uncommon to not have read the entire thing ahead of time...the only reason I even have mine is that I managed to get down to the school while school was still in session and grab the teacher's manuals from the previous teacher. I don't have the student books.
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I'm more like your dad.

    Any time I've gotten a new prep, I've spent the preceding summer pulling together my notes, coming up with sample problems and examples, and real-world tie-ins.

    Of course, the time I got Intro to Calc as a new prep, it was Saturday night and I was teaching it first period Monday morning--- and I had to copy my Pre-calc notes for the teachers who were suddenly teaching that. So that prep was much less well organized.
     
  4. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Jun 17, 2012

    You can wait, but you save yourself a lot of stress if you go through it carefully now. We have a fairly new curriculum to match new books and the new state test. It's been coming to us piece meal over the last 2 years, but now, it seems finalized. So I don't have to start totally from scratch, but I'm spending a fair amount of time this summer making sure I have a good plan for covering everything.

    The first thing I do is pull out the "blueprint" for the state test and the district common assessment. I make sure that I have the major objectives covered on those tests before the date they are scheduled to be administered. Then I do the same thing with our campus common assessments (which are given about once every six weeks). I work backwards from the end, bigger picture, to the individual lessons.

    By the time school starts, I'll have my lessons plans outlined for the entire year. I'll just need to tweak and adjust time as I go. It saves me from so much stress during the year!
     
  5. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Jun 17, 2012

    I'm with your dad. Enjoy your new class!
     
  6. Go 4th

    Go 4th Habitué

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    Jun 17, 2012

    Well, I prefer to be like your dad but with 2 kids, 3 dogs, and being in school myself, I haven't always been that meticulous.

    One year, I was one grade until the day before open house which is the Thursday before school starts on Monday. It was all I could do to get my room moved. I relied on the other grade level teacher the first week and then felt like I was hanging by my fingernails until the first break. I spent every night and weekend preparing for the next day. It was tough.

    Find a happy medium that works for you. :)
     
  7. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Jun 17, 2012

    Yikes, maybe I'll take a closer look at the math at least. I am not worried about the reading at all. The district is apparently redoing the order that they teach the concepts in due to state testing- our state does testing in february for 3rd grade (crazy, isn't it?) and they wanted to fit certain concepts in before then. So the other teachers on my team were able to tell me that they know they're starting with chapter 19 in the math, but they're not sure the order of the rest of it yet. So I definitely don't think it's wise to start planning lessons or anything like that other than for that chapter 19 but I guess I could look at the rest of it more closely. My new school is also getting a new principal for next year so the teachers weren't sure how that would change things. They were saying that under the last principal they weren't allowed to supplement or change the reading curriculum at all, and it's all planned out already. They're hoping that the new principal will be less strict about that, but until I know for sure I'm certainly not going to go planning lessons I might not even be able to do! Plus, as far as individual lessons go I'm not sure if there will be a required lesson plan format or what- again, the teachers were not able to tell me since they're not sure what the new principal will require. In the past they have not had to turn plans in at all, but who knows what this new person will think. I would hate to do all that work and find out I needed to do it on some sort of template.
     
  8. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Jun 17, 2012

    I'm like your dad.
    I've spent 4ish hours a day on my curriculum this summer.
     
  9. sumnerfan

    sumnerfan Comrade

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    I've spent a fair amount of time working on getting ready for next year thus far this summer. I haven't spent 2-3 hours a day, but I do something every day. I get together regularly with a few friends from school. They think I'm being anal. They ask me things like what will happen if they change my schedule. I'd rather risk it and hopefully be prepared. During the year I know I get bogged down with all the meetings, grading, and so on to really plan the way I would like. If I do the planning now, hopefully my school year will be smoother for everyone.
     
  10. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I am moving grade levels for the first time starting next year, but its only one grade off so I don't expect to need to spend any time learning the new stuff until we go back. Some things will be similar and everything else will be like my first year all over again. You learn you as you go.
     
  11. Jayneorama

    Jayneorama Rookie

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    Jun 17, 2012

    I'm like your dad. I put my thoughts/ideas/extensions on post-it's from page to page so that I don't forget when it rolls around.

    Then again, I am always looking for ways to be more efficient and work smarter. Maybe I don't need to do that, but I think I'd be a bundle of anxiety if I didn't do it. The summer of a July surgery, I ended up planning to Spring Break, and then finish ing over Christmas break. I didn't like that year. :D
     
  12. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    Going into my first year, I am like your dad. I learned the hard way during my student teaching where I didn't have the summer to prepare how stressful it can be to go week by week, or worse yet, day by day. It went well, but it was tough.
     
  13. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    New standards to into effect for next year. Finally Pluto isn't a planet, but some of the expectations are laughable. I mean, you could use them as a great exam question for a capstone graduate level class. When will they learn that "academic rigor" doesn't mean throwing lots of %*<£}^{ at the kids to see if anything sticks?

    Anywa, I'd be super excited about planning things out and tweaking things based on my results this year, but I won't know until July or something if I can apply for my job.

    Apparently everybody and their dog has priority over people who were hired on a 1 year contract. I have to wait until July, but job fair recruits don't. Not that I'm bitter or anything. I wasn't even eligible for the internal job fair. My admin seems very sincere in wanting me back and has made sure that I've done the necessary HR steps, but it's all out of her hands for now.

    I'm really depressed about it. I love this school and would like to work somewhere longer than one year.

    I have so many ideas, but I'm too depressed to really even think about them. I can't even bear to think about a job search. I have great recommendations now but if the worst happens, I think I'll just sub next year and look for a way out of education.

    In general though, I don't need to worry too much since my content area is my specialty and I like to adapt as I go according to my students, their other classes, and current evemts. If I had to, I could create a good lesson plan on the fly. Not my preferred teaching style, but it does keep planning stress off me when I mostly need to find new ways to present material I already know really well. If I end up teaching chemistry, it would be a different story since I would have to immerse myself in an entirely new pedagogy.
     
  14. MATgrad

    MATgrad Groupie

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    Jun 18, 2012

    I'm moving to 2nd grade next year. I'm currently reviewing my CRISS manual, DCBA via Marvin Marshall and for some odd reason creating very crafty room decorations. I'm writing out my rules/procedures this week. I plan on going to check-out the teacher editions of everything next week and making unit plans for the first two units of everything before work week. I'm not getting into detailed lesson plans until I meet the kids but at least this way I will have a framework for the year. However I am moving from teaching severe/mod!
     
  15. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jun 18, 2012

    I would be like your dad as well. It's important to really know your material and have some solid plans. Life gets overwhelming the first time you teach a new curriculum, standards, grade, etc. So spend as much time this summer as you can preparing because there are so many other things to do during the school year.
     
  16. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Molly, what are you talking about saying Pluto is not a planet. That is such a blasphamis statement. Pluto is planet number 9 and next year when I have to teach about the solar system that is one thing I look forward to.
     
  17. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Bob, talk to Neil deGrasse Tyson.
     
  18. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I'm not quite sure who that is, but I stand by my original statement. I have already had a few fun discussions with students in recent years about Pluto, this year it will just be official.
     
  19. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Look him up! He is an awesome role model for kids (especially African American kids as there is such a dearth of role models in the Earth and Space sciences), a great, inspirational teacher, and one of the best advocates we have for science (esp space) education. He wrote a great book on Pluto's demotion. He is at the National Museum of Natural History.

    I love using the "Pluto Problem" as a critical thinking exercise and to illustrate how science changes. Students learn the definition of a planet much more thoroughly when they go through all the ways zpluto doesn't "fit." I usually have a debate of sorts and split the class into two parts.
     
  20. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    See and I am just not a fan of teaching science, have never liked it, even as a kid. So the technicalities of it all, doesn't really appeal to me. I like to just say Pluto is a planet because I learned it as one of the 9 planets and its not right to take that away just because it is small.
    It is pretty much the only time during the year that i give credit to something small and joke that even the small things (the smaller kids know I am referring to them) can be important too. :D
     
  21. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    The problem isn't that Pluto is small (Mercury is only 2x it's size). The problem is the discovery of all the trans-Neptunian Kuiper Belt objects--rocky ice balls. Pluto fits with that group very nicely, but not at all with the outer planets that are all gas giants.

    It's actually a pretty important shift in how the solar system is described and studied.

    Technically, to be a planet under the revised definition a body has to orbit the Sun, been able to pull itself into a spherical shape, and has to have cleared its orbit of debris. Pluto fails the last test.

    To be scientifically literate, kids need to know about Pluto! Actually, if anything, Pluto is more important than before when it was just the wee little far away 9th planet. Now it's the King of Planitessimals, and NASAs New Horizons mission will be there soonish (forget the year, but soon), so we will finally have actual photos and not the current sad blurry whitish blob.
     
  22. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I am not quite sure of much of what you said means and I have a strong feeling it interests you a lot more than it does me. All I care to know about the solar system is that it is there. Beyond that, no concern of mine.
     
  23. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Jun 18, 2012

    So you're going to teach your kids incorrect information?
     
  24. bison

    bison Habitué

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    So.. we get to just gloss over subjects we don't like? Kids don't need accurate science education when their teacher isn't interested in it? :wow:
     
  25. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Jun 18, 2012

    I, too, am with your dad. I reflect, research, and plan every summer. Maybe not every day, but I do spend an appreciable amount of time on it. We have new standards this year so I am revisiting the standards and blueprints as well as my plans. By the end of the summer I will have a calendar with the outline of my plans for the year along with notes on the resources I'll be using. In addition, I will have detailed plans completed for the first month or so. The plans may have to be modified based on changes in schedule, etc. but at least they are prepared. I wouldn't go into school without planning ahead.
     
  26. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    1. I don't believe it to be incorrect. I also don't believe it to be a big deal. Real planet, sudo planet, mini planet, nongas planet, other scientific name. I just call it a planet and don't worry about it. Most of the students know that there is this issue with Pluto and are going to choose to believe one way or the other by their own choosing (that is the experience I have had in the past).

    2. I will probably be glossing over science because we aren't given much time to teach it in our schedule and even then it is not made a priority. The fact that I am not interested in it is just a coincidence.

    3. Again, I don't think this issue is a big deal, more humorous than anything else.
     
  27. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Do you teach kids about the solar system?

    Kids pick up lack of interest and buy into it. I pretend everything is fascinating to me, even meteorology, which sadly bores me silly.

    The formal definition of a planet is not a belief system! It doesn't have to be overly technical. All elementary kids need to understand is that there are lots of cool objects other than planets that are being studied and Pluto is one of those. There are dozens of cute, short, to the point cartoon and age appropriate videos on Pluto that you could show your class.

    I'm going to go bang my head against a wall now. So many of my HS seniors lack any sort of basic (basic!) scientific literacy. This stuff scares me. :dizzy:
     
  28. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I don't pretend to like everything that I teach. I give students more credit than that and I let them decide what it is they are going to like instead of relying on me to decide which subjects are fun. I tell them straight out which subjects I like best and which ones I do not like.
    As I stated before I have not had to teach the solar system yet (this coming year will be the first). I have had casual conversations with students stating what I think about topics, such as Pluto.
     
  29. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    This is the whole point of science. It is ever-changing. Just because you learned it as one of nine planets doesn't mean you should keep perpetuating that fallacy. If you were taught that the universe were geocentric, and then received the evidence that it is heliocentric, would you keep teaching the wrong thing? I really am not a fan of astronomy either, but I don't have to teach. I think it is better to just not teach it at all as opposed to teaching it wrong.
     
  30. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I can admit, I have no idea what those two words mean that you posted. If I thought this whole Pluto thing were a big deal then it would be different, but I don't. It is just a name classification that does not really have much impact on our society today. Which is part of what makes the whole issue of Pluto so funny to me.
     
  31. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    We don't have a set "curriculum", but we do have provincial learning outcomes we must cover. I familiarize myself with those, research and resources that might be helpful and create a general outline of the order I will cover things in.
     
  32. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I am amazed that anyone can have such firm opinions about a scientific issue while also saying they don't understand it.

    Of course not everyone will find everything equally fascinating or relevant (nor should they), but to hear a fellow teacher dismiss subjects out of hand is pretty disturbing.

    If you are not concerned about a topic in your curriculum, it would seem that the path of least resistance is to use prepared materials that adhere to the curricular standards and move on. Not great for your students, but at least they should attain some degree of scientific literacy.
     
  33. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    All of these comments because of one statement. "I still call Pluto a planet." It is not like I pick and choose in regards to every fact in science, this one just seems comical to me.

    And what do you meant to dismiss subjects out of hand?
     
  34. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I mean that a few times you've mentioned not being concerned about a topic because you think it is comical, or incorrect, or not socially important. I'm not going to argue that Pluto, or even the solar system, is one of the top ten vital things students must learn, but if it's in your curriculum, get it right and move on.

    As a science educator, I would far prefer to have students who don't know very much about Astrnomy than to have to iron out incorrect ideas and inaccurate thinking. One of the most important tenets of science, regardless of discipline, is that it is fluid and adaptable. Scientists continually reexamine old information in light of new discoveries and ideas. With the advent of tools like the Hubble space telescope, newer and better space probes and satellites, and radio astronomy, there is nothing static about our understanding of the Universe.
     
  35. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    :agreed:
    I've never taken an astronomy class in my life, but I'm pretty sure that Pluto isn't a planet just because it's too small to be one.

    Anyway, even if the information isn't important to you (even though it probably is important to other people) , you're giving your whole class incorrect information. I haven't come across a topic in my standards that I didn't find worth teaching, but if I did, I would still teach them properly. As a math teacher, I hate it when kids come to my class with incorrect information that they learned from another teacher before.
     
  36. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Confirmation my contract can be reissued! NOW I'm super excited to study the new standards in depth. I've been sort of teaching to those already as I've tweaked or created materials, but not in any thoughtful, planned out way.
     
  37. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Jun 19, 2012

    I think it's incredibly funny that this very strange debate is occurring while others are nonchalantly posting based on the OP (although I'm still perplexed that a debate is required on this topic because as a Certified Science Teacher I would never consider giving inaccurate info to students).
     

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