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Friday, May 05, 2017

Too Fast: Curriculum Pacing and Learning

Sometimes students complain that I speak and move lessons along too fast.

I know that to be true, but I'm constantly caught in that dilemma between expectations and students' natural, comfortable pace.

The expectations for learning at my grade level are great, and I know that if students meet those standards they will have a strong foundation for future learning. I also am essentially "rated" on those expectations too.

Yet, for some students who are starting one or more years behind with respect to these expectations, the pace can be too fast, and they won't learn well unless they have the chance for greater practice, more support, and a better pace.

The answer here is differentiation, yet that differentiation is challenged by time and staff available.

This morning during a collegial meeting we may discuss this dilemma a bit more as we look at research and review data.

A few ideas I have to remedy this situation include the following:
  • Rethinking the start of the year so that we spend significant time teaching skills, concepts, and knowledge easily accessible to all thus giving me an opportunity to build community, growth mindset, learning habits, and use of tools.
  • Spending significant time upfront in the year teaching students how to use and access individualized tools for teaching/learning as those tools give students the chance to build skill and knowledge on their own. This helps with students' personal growth and ability to reteach and review.
  • Teaching parents more about how math can be learned today, and providing parents with support for using those tools with their children. Having parent support significantly impacts learning in positive ways.
  • Re-looking at the unit roll-out by including more floor-to-ceiling explorations, clearer goals, more student choice and voice, and helpful check-in points to see where students need and want help.
  • Re-looking at the entire year to make sure that we have significant time for students to learn and study math in meaningful ways.
Students have made great progress this year, but I think they can even make more progress with some tweaks to the program, and that's what I'll be thinking about.