16 April 2006

Form and Function

There are some benefits to being last...to being just out of scrutiny for awhile. Math and Language Arts have always had to deal with the spotlight. Science? We got to sit back and watch for a long time. But now we have some additional expectations in terms of student achievement. Most of the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments is over now. People are ready to get to work and interested in doing well.

We're at the stage of developing some documents for teachers to use as a resource in planning. This is not some sort of prescription, where everyone teaching seventh grade science will do the exact same lesson on the same day. We aren't making widgets here. We're working with young people, all of whom have slightly different needs. However, regardless of the variation, all kids are now held to the same high expectations and standards. The documents we make based on our new curriculum and information from the state should be things that easily identify for teachers which pages in the text and activities are best aligned. Instead of every teacher having to sift through everything in order to figure out whether or not s/he's teaching to the standards, they'll have a reference at hand.

The Reading and Math specialists have developed similar tools for elementary teachers. Neither format suits the needs of science, although each has some good pieces. Anyway, this leaves me needing to make a template...and I'm having a difficult time doing so. If the form isn't just right---maybe a single page, specific sections about the alignment, etc.---then it won't be functional for kids. It's too important not to be in an easily accessible and useful form.

I have four groups of teachers (one for each grade level: 6 - 9) coming in to work on these documents in the next few weeks. I was hoping to have at least a start on the form so that we didn't have to completely start from scratch. But it's being quite the bear to wrestle.

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