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Curriculum vs Standards
Old 07-27-2018, 07:53 AM
 
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This applies to pretty much any content area, but what are your thoughts on districts requiring teachers to only teach the adopted curriculum with no room given for using other approaches or material?


My district adopted a pretty good math program a couple of years ago, and the math teachers I've talked with have all said that the program does a good job of covering the standards at the different grade levels. However, like any program, there are few holes where particular standards are not really covered adequately.


On one hand we are told that as teachers we should be treated as professionals and able to make important decisions regarding our students' education and that we need to meet the needs of all of our students. On the other hand, we are told that we should not stray from our adopted curriculum and that there is/should be no need to bring in any other materials/activities.


Where do you stand on this? If you feel that your students need additional practice on a particular skill/standard or that the class as a whole just isn't getting it with the approved curriculum, do you bring in your own lesson/activity and ask forgiveness later? Or do you stick to what the district/admin feels is best?


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Old 07-27-2018, 09:13 AM
 
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I am a mix programs and curriculums kind of person. Adopted curriculum has a good lesson? Use it. Book I found in the book closet from 1964 has a good idea for teaching adjectives? Use it. Spalding? Use it. Fundations? Use it. Orton Gillingham Method? Use it. Words Their Way? Use it. Old spelling anthology from 1990? Use it. TeachersPayTeachers has something of value that's not just some ugly big-headed clipart kid? Use it.
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Old 07-27-2018, 09:39 AM
 
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Quote:
Where do you stand on this? If you feel that your students need additional practice on a particular skill/standard or that the class as a whole just isn't getting it with the approved curriculum, do you bring in your own lesson/activity and ask forgiveness later? Or do you stick to what the district/admin feels is best?
after all the inservice and instruction in the new improved ways just close your door and use all your tricks to teach the NEW math. One size never fits all.
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Old 07-27-2018, 10:44 AM
 
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We would actually have to have a curriculum to follow
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We're actually told the opposite
Old 07-27-2018, 11:25 AM
 
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It's not considered best practice to just follow the textbook and teacher editions. We have to consider the standards, the pacing guide, and the curriculum framework. Then, IF the textbook is a useful tool, we can use it.


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Takes the fun out of it...
Old 07-27-2018, 11:55 AM
 
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On the other hand, we are told that we should not stray from our adopted curriculum and that there is/should be no need to bring in any other materials/activities.
Well, this just seems to take the fun out of teaching! I could NEVER do that!!!!!!!!!
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Standards vs Curriculum vs What is Real
Old 07-27-2018, 01:11 PM
 
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"On one hand we are told that as teachers we should be treated as professionals and able to make important decisions regarding our students' education..." We hardly hear this nowadays. And when it IS said, I'm not sure that it's truly BELIEVED by the speaker as much as it's a disclaimer that we cannot use "it wasn't a standard" as a defense for students not knowing something that it turned out they needed to know.

Standards and curriculum are both changing as is the over-empowered testing. So, it gets to be a frustrating cycle. The standards say one thing, but the curriculum doesn't "cover" that. So, the curriculum is updated. Then, there's a gap in time and eventually students take a test. If the students do well, the curriculum/district/even politicians enjoy the credit. If not, which is often the case (cuz who really knew what they'd need to know for the test?) -- the teacher often gets blamed.

So, to answer your question, I strive to understand and teach the standards, per our curriculum as much as possible, hoping it prepares them for whatever tests they'll take, while occasionally trying to slip in what I know really interests kids, works, and matters more. (I can't just close my door, cuz I'm under the same ceiling as my administrators.) When former students see me, they excitedly praise my teaching and then ask "Do you still..." Most of the things they recall were "mine" vs. a standard/curriculum -based lesson.
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Old 07-27-2018, 02:05 PM
 
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For us, the Syllabus gives us the Outcomes (or Standards) that we have to teach. How we teach them is up to us, or to our individual school (larger schools mandate this stuff). In my small school, it's up to me and I can use a variety of resources. Bossman has said I have to be able to justify my choices at any point but, as long as he sees kids learning, he's okay to go with my flow. The Syllabus is a state document and is compulsory.

For example, the outcome I am working on in Maths next week is:

MA2-5NA Uses mental and written strategies for addition and subtraction of two, three, four and five digit numbers.

We will use a variety of activities, games, etc, to learn the skills and culminate with using a page of their textbook as an assessment tool. I, like a lot of older teachers, will always refer back to the 1989 Syllabus which not only included outcomes but suggested activities for getting the kids there. It was a wonderful document - only changed for the sake of change.
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Old 07-27-2018, 10:09 PM
 
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We would actually have to have a curriculum to follow
I've almost never had a curriculum for any subject to follow in the classroom jobs I've had, so that was my thought, too As much as it was a TON of work to design almost EVERYTHING from scratch, it also allowed for a lot of creativity and flexibility and that's the reason I got into teaching in the first place.

To me, teaching the standards is the goal. So if a curriculum isn't covering the standards adequately, or they need extra practice, of course I would supplement as needed. I think that's being professional and is why we get the training we get. I agree with shutting your door and doing what you are getting paid to do-- teach!
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Old 07-28-2018, 04:30 AM
 
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I'm all for using the curriculum as a resource, but unfortunately my school is big on "fidelity." I've been on the other side of that too. In the last school I worked in, I was teaching gen ed and the P had decided that all packaged curriculum was bad and shouldn't be used at all. So here I had all of these resources that I wasn't allowed to use. I know not every lesson/activity etc. is perfect- but I was wasting tons of time looking for stuff online and making things when I had materials available. Super frustrating!

This past school year was the first year I've ever been given curriculum as a sped teacher. It was a double edged sword. On the one hand, it was amazing to have actual materials that were all ready to go- rather than finding/making everything on my own. Planning was much less frustrating. On the other hand, I certainly don't want to read a script either. I mostly made it my own behind closed doors!


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Test Scores
Old 07-28-2018, 07:13 AM
 
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When I was forced to use an "adopted curriculum" I feel like the real reason was to boost test scores. Ironically, I got observed when using the program and the observer was asking me all these questions. Like why did you do this and why did you do that. Umm, it is in the program and yes, it makes no sense. After that, he STILL wanted us to follow this horrid program. It was a good feeling though because with all the observation stuff I couldn't get dinged for doing exactly what they told me to.

Behind the scenes my coworkers and I made changes. The result though was that test scores did go up and they thought it was the "program." So we are still stuck with parts of it. Honestly, what we had before wasn't perfect but it was better than what we have now.
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