The “Curriculum

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If you are lucky the curriculum will be written to include behavioral objectives.  If not, rewriting them in forms of behavioral objectives including means of measuring accomplishment is the first step.  The following is only one way this can be set up.  It identifies the objective, provides individualization, collaboration, measures progress towards completion and final completion.

Each student has an index card (or on a spread sheet) upon which they are checked for each behavioral objective.  I prefer the index card as they may be given the card, but if your school has or allows smart phones or ipads they would work too:

(Date,    John Doe,   Objective,    Activity,     %Completed,    Completed,    Comments).

I prefer using index cards and then entering completion in the grade book if required. 

Eighth grade and above I give the students a list of all the objectives and allow them to choose the order of addressing them.  I discuss and help them decide how they will demonstrate completion or proficiency.  In addition I recommend they form a group who will be working on the same objective.  I paper clip the index cards together for those working in a group together.  During the class period I circulate among the individual students and groups providing guidance in achieving the objective so that I can evaluate percentage of completion or those completed. I explain that it is not a competition 

If the school district requires a letter grade on the report card, we as a class decide how many objectives completed will translate to an “A”, “B”, “C” or “D”.  There is no “F”.  Some districts have a mandatory curriculum calendar so that if a student moves from one school to another he or she will be in the same place in the curriculum no matter which school they are attending.   They then use standardized tests based on that calendar.  If you find yourself in one of these districts you will pretty much need to disregard individualized instruction, collaboration, and measurement based on progress.  If you are a seasoned experienced teacher, you might be able to use this method and then teach to the district test.

Sometimes you need to identify a district mandate as asinine and work around it.  In one district the administrators went to a conference and heard about the use of “word walls” to teach vocabulary.  They then mandated their use district wide k through 12.  In this system there were ten words posted on the classroom wall per week and each day prescribed lessons were to be used to teach them.  These lessons were to be identified in the teacher’s lesson plans.  Money was spent to purchase nylon cloth “flags” with pockets where the words for the week were displayed.  Part of the teachers evaluation would be on the appearance of word walls in their lesson plans and use of the flags in their classrooms.

A good system for elementary grades, maybe.  A high school economics teacher pointed out that it would hardly work with his classes where there could be twenty new terms a week and there would not be enough time to implement this system and cover the curriculum.  He was told there would be no exceptions.  He put up his expensive nylon flag with each of ten of his vocabulary words in their slot.  He left those same words up until he was observed.  He taught those words as part of the lesson as directed.  After the observation he displayed ten new words in their pockets on the brightly colored nylon flag till his next observation.  Sometimes it is necessary to bend the rules in order to teach.  Unfortunately that’s the way it is, and you will need to choose between teaching and doing what the administration dictates.

DAY 1 NEXT TIME

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