Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Curriculum mapping - really helping students?

I believe the pendulum swing in education has made senior staff jaded.  The pendulum has swung from one big fix to the next, and the common core is just another swing.  Why wouldn't a veteran believe that and be in doubt of this new thing...

I really think the core is the right idea (I do think it is too big 9-12).  But now schools are looking for the big fix -- just to be aligned to the common core. 

So schools are putting effort into curriculum mapping to show where voids are, but what it ends up being is teachers searching for one place where one standard is shown, or how to add a lesson to hit one thing (one time usually).  Where is the mastery? Is student learning really improved?  Is this the best use of time for improvement?  It may be good but is it great?

I have started to refuse to be part of the swing, I want great.  There is too much work to accept good, we must do the great things first!  I am fighting energy wasted in large scale fixes that do not improve student learning. I will work on small things - integrating standards into my lessons, real connections and real problems!  The common core is a huge migration, it does not happen overnight and even if we change materials, and introduce "quicky" lessons we are doing a disservice to our students.  Teachers must move students from current mastery "A" to "B." 

Mastery takes time, it takes prechecks and follow up assessment.  It takes well prepared lessons that are reflected upon and improved (and shared).  A curriculum map that shows a books table of contents that matches the standards however loosely they fit -- it just does not do it! 

Time is a precious thing, I will not waste it on a big fix.  If we are not careful the Common core will be another swing -- because unless really change is done at the lesson level it will fail.....