I spent the morning crafting a learning schedule from now until the end of the year. Always, as I approach the last third of the school year, I am thinking about what goals we met and what is still left to do. I want to make sure that I teach all that is expected with as much depth and breadth as possible, but how do we fit it all in?
One way to fit it all in is to integrate. For example, I melded fraction standards with measurement and geometry standards to teach both concepts at the same time. That will be interesting and very helpful when it comes to fitting it all in.
Sometimes if we simplify learning experiences, we are able to hit the priority points in meaningful, but more efficient ways. That's why I'll turn a number of science lessons into collaborative science-in-a-bag projects. I'll put the scaffolded main ingredients of the project into a bag with an instructions card and an exit ticket. Students will be asked to work independently with peers to follow the instructions, complete the simple standards-based project, and fill out the exit card. There will be time at the start and end of each project session to discuss the main points and probably watch a short video on the topic. This will be lots of fun for the children and ensure we hit the main points we are expected to teach.
As a wise colleague remarked recently, we simply sometimes strive for too much--our expectations are sky-high. Typically this is very good, but it can be overwhelming for teachers and students alike. So as I work to fit in all the standards, I can lower some expectations in order to teach the material, but perhaps bring it down from the enrichment level I often teach at. If a simple project whets a student's appetite, they will most likely continue that study on their own time. For example, this week one group who worked tirelessly on their climate change project told me that they would continue their efforts over the weekend. They will bring the project to the enrichment level.
To fit it all in demands optimal curriculum choreography. That choreography ensures that more intense objectives are taught at high-energy, high-focus times and lighter expectations are taught at times of the day or week when students have less stamina and focus. This also demands that learning experiences are scheduled for the best times, times that may support an upcoming test, special event, or school-wide event.
I came up with a good road map for the days ahead, so now, rather than worry about how to fit it all in, I can focus in on the actual learning experiences and students' needs/interests instead. Onward.