Working on singular skills is not my favorite kind of teaching or learning. I like those deep, interdisciplinary projects--the kind that really inspire you to dig in, work hard, and learn a lot. If I was in charge of the world, I'd probably teach in a primarily project-based, creative school where we continually foster all kinds of wonderful project/problem based learning.
Though, I'm not in charge of the world, and I have a lot of expectations to meet that do not fit the project based learning model, but instead focus on singular skills. Many voices come together to create the curriculum program I teach, and I do value the skill, knowledge, and concept development we employ as well as the many projects we embed throughout the year. So in the next few weeks, students and I will focus on lots of single skills--standards that students are expected to master with model making, problem solving, explanations, and computation.
Day after day, we'll learn about and practice these skills as students build their schema for mathematical thinking, understanding, and application. Then, about once every week-and-a-half students will take an assessment to see which skills they've mastered and which ones they still need to work on.
When our weeks of skill development are complete, we'll dive into the big projects of the fifth grade play, biography project, and STEAM explorations. I'm sure I'll continue to think about this skill vs. project debate and coordination that goes in schools as I work towards the best possible teaching/learning experiences. At the same time, I'll also stay the course and help students master the standards set. Onward.