I feel so stupid

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-26-2000
I feel so stupid
13
Sun, 10-23-2005 - 10:09pm

I feel so stupid with this new "Comprehensive Curriculum" our state has implemented.

In some ways it reminds me of Whole Language that was all the rage many years ago. I was given a several day workshop on WHole Language and told to go forth and prosper. So for a few years, I *tried* to teach what I thought Whole Language was. And probably didn't really teach much of anything. There was one teacher at our school who did a great job of teaching it, but I never got it. I don't think I would ever get it. I don't think I have a "whole language" mind.

Now I am supposed to implement this new curriculum. Problem is I don't understand what they're asking for or what I'm supposed to do with some of it. Most of it. ANd once again, I really feel like I'm teaching nothing of value. (And most of the other teachers I've talked to feel the same way, so I'm pretty sure I'm not the only stupid one.)

This is from one of our "activities" - which as near as I can figure is really several days worth of stuff.

"The teacher will present a science fiction/fantasy web or chart modeling the similarities and differences in the plot, setting, problem, and characters."

OK - pardon me for being dense, but what ARE the differences???

"The teacher will also conduct mini-lesson reviews on author's POV and theme development."

Alrighty - author's POV is either first person or third person (omniscient?) right?? I can do that in about 4 minutes. But what is this theme development stuff?? What am I supposed to do with that??

"Students will view film clips of a science fiction story and a fantasy and then create an attribute chart that compares/contrasts the characteristics."

Well, how about pointing me in some direction and at least give me some film titles that I should get "clips" from. Better yet, just send me the DVD of the clips. Surely they can do a better job than me of finding something that illustrates what they think should be illustrated.

"Teacher will read aloud a short science fiction story."

Once again - how about a title? Science fiction not being one of my favorite genres, I don't really have much of a repertoire of long and short stories.

I sit down and try to plan my lessons according to this new "bible" that they've presented us with and I want to cry with frustration. My students want to cry with boredom. IN reality what I've been doing is putting some of this stuff on my lesson plan, closing my door, and politely going about my business trying to teach my students things like writing a complete sentence correctly and understanding what they read and hear. I've tried to give this stuff some lip service, and I feel like I'm being much less effective than I have been the past few years.

I've been teaching nearly 20 years now. Maybe I AM getting dumber.

Karen

 


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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-24-2003
Sun, 10-23-2005 - 10:45pm

Yikes, lots of to-dos with no real guidance.

Sherry

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-26-2000
Sun, 10-23-2005 - 11:42pm

Thanks Sherri,

Apparently the state of Louisiana thinks this curriculum is the answer to our education woes.

I teach 7th and 8th grade resource. I'm sure I'm supposed to be teaching both grade level's curriculum, but I'm just going to stick with 7th for now.

Tuck Everlasting - is it Sci Fi or Fantasy?

I've read The Giver and I have it in my classroom. I thought it was eerie - like I said Science Fiction is not one of my faves - but I could see where my teenagers might like it. I also have the Shadow Children series (and have enjoyed reading them). I think they were on our Sci Fi reading list. They're set in the future, but there's not anything in the way of time travel, aliens, or anything like that (which is what I think of when I think of science fiction).

I'll check into the Little Match Girl and the Lottery. Thanks for the titles.

We occasionally get a debate in our class. I think the last one was whether Katrina was Bush's fault. Tons of good reasoning and facts in that one. (not)

The highlight of last week was 4 inmates from the local jail coming to tell their stories to my students. I'm pretty sure that wasn't in the comprehensive curriculum, though.

Karen

 


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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-24-2003
Mon, 10-24-2005 - 2:34pm

I think Tuck

Sherry

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-26-2000
Mon, 10-24-2005 - 5:27pm

Thanks for the reminder. I actually HAVE Inspiration and have a working computer with the AverKey set up. I need to play around with it some and refresh my memory.

I also have the Disney version of Tuck Everlasting in my room. The special ed folks are trying real hard to make sure we have what we need, but you kind of have to figure out what grade/unit it is for on your own.

The state hasn't really written lesson plans per se. They have just given us the "activities" and then we have to figure out how to pace them and what to do to get the activities to work. Supposedly, they want to make sure that we cover all of our GLE's.

I just feel like I should "know" what they're wanting, but it just doesn't flow for me. Last year I did journals every day with the kids - just a little something to get them to write. But this year, I haven't figured out how to get that in. Consequently, they're writing very little. Some days I feel the most valuable thing that we do is the 15 minutes of SSR.

Karen

 


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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Mon, 10-24-2005 - 6:48pm

I know I haven't been too plentiful with information in my e-mails, but I feel the same way about the curriculum. It wasn't until the curr cood finally told me not to let the activities guide me, but to use them where they fit in that I finally felt like I was TEACHING them!

Of course, after grading the tests over the weekend I could just scream. They are NOT used to doing unit tests! So even though I do a full review of the types of problems on the tes the day before, they have forgotten everything.

Today's bellringer (it's red ribbon week) was to take the price of a pack of cigarettes ($3.14) and add 9.5% sales tax. This is something I taught them exactly how to do on their calculators for the first 9 weeks project. When I told them they had to do it for the project, they told me there's no way they can remember what they did a few weeks ago! Uh, hello......what are you going to do on the iLeap test then????

Anyway, now I just throw in the activities when they are appropriate and I don't do all of them, just about half of them.

But I do love pre-test days.

Alysha


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-26-2000
Mon, 10-24-2005 - 9:05pm

Ya know, I got one whiff of the math curriculum on that inservice day and thought "no way" and never had another guilty thought about it. Every once in a while, I ask a regular teacher "what are we supposed to be on now" and they tell me, and I say "OK". I even told my principal that I didn't think I was going to follow that, and she said "Do what ya gotta do." I have, however, gotten some nice manipulatives that I'm trying to put to good use ;-).

One thing I got was some fraction pieces - enough for each kid to have a bag, so one day I passed out the bags and a nice < > fraction sheet. Before I could even give the directions, they were speeding through it - after all... 1/2 < 1/4 since the 4 is bigger. Right??? They were too cool to use the fraction pieces. Then I delivered the news that most of them were wrong, and that they should go back and USE THE FRACTION PIECES. They grudginly did, but I bet I could give the same sheet tomorrow and they'd do the same thing.

The ELA currciulum *seemed* to be a bit better put together, and we have some one in SPEd who has gone and modified a lot of the activities to try to make them more user friendly. Still, though, it seems like a lot of useless stuff to me.

I hadn't looked at it in several weeks, but we got a notice about "walk-throughs" the other day. Out of the 80 that are required, I think 70 are supposed to be done for "compliance with the curriculum". My SPED supervisor has told me just to tell them that I am addressing their IEP goals. The other 10 are being done for "classroom management". I even thought of asking them to skip me for the compliance ones.

Add in to all that, it's my observation year, so I figured I should at least take a peak at the stuff.

I haven't had any unit tests head my way, yet. Usually they forget about special ed, anyways, so I'm hoping that works to my advantage this time. I really wouldn't have a problem with them *taking* the unit tests. Doesn't mean I have to use the grades....

One of our subs gave the 8th grade class she was subbing for a decimal division problem today and told them they couldn't use calculators. I think she only had 3 papers turned in at the end of the hour.

I could go on and on....

But I won't.

Karen

 


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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Mon, 10-24-2005 - 9:43pm

LOL LOL LOL division of decimals. Wait, you mean 7th graders are SUPPOSED to know how to do that WITHOUT calculators???? I mean, really, that's what I thought, too, but if you'd see the looks on these kids' faces when they don't even SET UP the problem right, got the right answer from the calculator, but I mark it completely wrong BECAUSE they didn't show their work!

Honestly, they can't even do regular division..the decimal part they got.

Now, I have told you that...I wish I could BAN the calculators. Plus the parents are furious and they ought to be! These kids are useless without calculators. Technology ain't everything! ;o)

And they want to be able to ask me questions about how to do stuff while they're taking the test. I've told them, "I've already passed 7th grade math!" Sometimes, I throw in "the first time!"...lol.

Alysha


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-26-2000
Tue, 10-25-2005 - 7:14am

Well, I guess I'm not THAT stupid, because I can divide numbers with decimals without a calculator if need be.

My students use calculators for just about everything. They can switch from a fraction to a decimal, simplify a fraction, and show the quotient and remainder all with the push of a button. A few know their multiplication facts. Sad really. I didn't know the calculator could do all those things. I learned it from my students. I wonder if it has anything to do with the reduced emphasis on "drill". That's like an evil word now. We're all into "higher order thinking skills", but they can't even do the lower order skills.

What's wrong with this picture?

Karen

 


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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 10-25-2005 - 5:49pm

Oh, they taught me about the abc key on the calculator! In case you don't know, that's the key to do fractions on the calculator. You put in 28 (abc) 56 and press equal and it will even simplify it for you! (I'm sure that's what you're saying, too)

Alysha


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-26-2000
Tue, 10-25-2005 - 10:22pm

Hmmmm... on our calculators it would be the keys.

To change from fractions to decimals it is the key.

I've taught divisibility for the last 2 days. I think maybe some of them have gotten it. I have a sheet that I have them do every day where they fill in Today is the _____ day of school. Then with the # in the blank, they have to find out what percentage of the school year is gone, how much is left, the factors, whether or not it is prime, and the numbers that it is divisible by, among other things.

One of them told me that the school year was 86% completed today. I wish.

Karen

 


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