Curriculum Conundrum

Reflection is a part of teaching. As the new calendar year begins, I find myself rethinking, reworking, and reorganizing for my students. In response to Margaret Regan’s Edutopia posting Six Steps to Master Teaching: Becoming a Reflective Practitioner, I am dedicating the next several blog entries to these six steps.

Step#4 – Design Curriculum That Works

We often hear teachers say they do not have enough time. There are days where I wish I could just sit in my room and quietly grade papers. However, there are many more items on my to do list which are far more important that sitting still. Our world is changing, and we better start changing with it. If we as teachers do not embrace that change, we will be the ones left behind. Far gone are the days of the Mimeograph machine and using the same lessons that the kindergarten teacher used when we were in her class.

Curriculum is touchy word these days. I feel it is extremely important to have aligned curriculum, both vertical (k-12) and horizontal (across the department). Many teachers have often created their own curriculum, designed their own lessons, and made their own assessments using the Scope and Sequence the district offers and/or demands.

At a conference last summer, a teacher from Arkansas asked me about Common Core. I had not heard of it until then. I began discussing Common Core with a few other teachers and realized that the purpose of Common Core was to provide the continuity of curriculum across the nation. The problem with that is not all states will agree to one curriculum.

C-SCOPE is another name that has often surfaced in Texas Education. There are varying opinions of both Common Core and C-SCOPE. In Texas, we have TEKS, which are the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, and these TEKS are assessed by the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills or TAKS test, soon to be known as the STAAR test. My question has always been, does the test drive the curriculum, or does the curriculum drive the test?

My experience with a curriculum program in a suburbia area of Texas was positive. I see the value of having the same skills being covered during the same time frame. There was a time when our families were not as migrant and mobile. Education today is much different than it was 10, 20, and/or 30 years ago.

What are your thoughts on Common Core and/or C-SCOPE? Do you use a pre-planned curriculum? Did you have a part in planning it? I would love to hear your thoughts on this one.

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8 Comments

Filed under Master Teaching

8 responses to “Curriculum Conundrum

  1. I’m in Arkansas. We implemented Common Core K-2. Next year we are implementing 3-8 and the year after that 9-12. I think the Common Core standards are a great thing because there are fewer standards which allow us to go in greater depth than before. My teachers decided on the pacing. They had the choice to make their own pacing guide or to use the pacing guide created at CommonCore.org. They chose the .org units.

    Jana @Thinking Out Loud

    • Jana, I think it is great that the teachers choose the pacing. They know their students best and know how much time needs to be spent on each skill. That is a decision I can respect as a teacher. Do you find many teachers who adamantly are against following Common Core?

      • My teachers have embraced the Common Core. There were so many standards that had to be taught before Common Core that they feel they finally have time to teach until the students reach mastery. One of my third grade teachers is unsure about next year since there will be a change, but she is happy to hear that the K-2 teachers like Common Core.

      • Jana, it is always good to hear positive feedback. Sometimes I think we are afraid of change even if the change is beneficial to all. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I’m fortunate enough to be able to plan my own curriculum based on state standards. I teach in Arkansas, and next year we will start Common Core implementation. Things may really change then. I don’t mind being told what to teach, and I guess I will get use to being told when to teach something, but I don’t ever want to be told how to teach.

    • Selina, I understand you wanting your autonomy in the classroom. I think many teachers fear they will lose that in “being told what to teach” and “when to teach.” However, delivery is the craft of our vocation. No one can take that away. My suggestion is to keep an open mind and find the activities where you can let your niche shine.

  3. Cindy

    I am fortunate to be in a school where we play a big role in how our curriculum is taught. I think Common Core Standards are a good idea, but I still want to be able to teach the way I teach best. Presently we are using state standards, but as I write my weekly plans, I look over Common Core as well. In our mobile society, I see the value in aligning standards nation wide. I have had students move in from other states and they are either behind what my students are doing or ahead; so having a common goal would benefit children in these situations.

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