Saturday, May 5, 2012

Standards and Curriculum Maps

I am a new teacher who went to school with teacher accountability and No Child Left Behind at the forefront of lessons. I had to write every lesson plan to target a state standard. My cooperating teacher when student teaching was a veteran teacher and didn't glimpse at them at all. Does my school force? No. We did do some training at the beginning of the year to help align teaching, but my school doesn't slap writs for straying.

The other day, I was chatting with another (more experienced) teacher and she asked, "Did you teach about rocks and minerals, yet?" Without any thought, I immediately, in an appalled way, replied, "No, it's not in the state standards, why would I teach it?" I think there was a moment of silence before she burst out laughing. I quickly tried to backtrack my words, making them sound less snappish. But, besides teaching the Solar System much longer than I needed, I haven't straying from this belief all year.

I set up curriculum maps in September to guide me through the year. I carefully plotted out Language Arts, Math, and Science/Social Studies to best fit my own teaching style. Besides using the Reading Street curriculum for reading books and Saxon worksheets for math work, I was free to do as I pleased. I am most thankful for this. In Science and Social Studies, we have been jumping around the textbooks and are FINALLY starting the textbook from page one with our last unit on plants and animals. 

My year, in essence, with Science and Social Studies looked like this:

September: Space and Solar System in Science and Communities in Social Studies
October: Inventions and Change Over Time to cover standards in both
November: Native Americans, Pilgrims, and Comparing Civilizations 
December: Force and Motion, Sound and Light
January: America- Maps, Customs, Important People, Symbols, Changes Over Time, Revolutionary War, Independence, Branches of Government, and Responsibilities of Citizens 
March: Matter, Weather, Temperature, and Seasons
April: Economics- Goods and Services, Resources, Currency, and Opportunity Cost
May: Plants and Animals

And then viola, all second and third grade standards were covered (or are being covered now). How could I have time to add rocks and minerals when I want to teach in depth lessons. I want my students to still be able to tell me what the main groups of Native Americans were in Minnesota. I want them to be able to burst into a rap about the Solar System and tell me what type of simple machine is leading up to a doorway. Even dates have stuck in their minds and they told the Arabic teaching that the Declaration of Independence was signed on what date (month and day given by a second grader and the year given by a third grader). 

Are they tested on this information? No. But whether or not I support strictly adhering to state standards or not, I understand it and do follow this. I am also happy that my students have developed a deeper understanding, rather than jumping around to one topic after the next to read the entire Science and Social Studies textbooks. 

Freebie for Science and Social Studies
We create a World Habitat Mobile when studying the Desert, Rain Forest, Tundra, Grassland, and Ocean Habitats. They turned out to be adorable and a good cumulating activity.

1 comment:

  1. I am a freshman college student who will be writing a research paper over the concept, Teaching to the Test. I was wondering if you had any other blogs or information about TttT. From my perspective, as a student last year, i thougt that TttT slowed down our learning experience and prevented us from learning all that we could learn during the year. As a teacher did you feel the same way? If you are interested in answering a few questions or even giving me a comment please let me know. Thanks