Sunday, October 13, 2013

Integrated math might be key to student achievement

So I just received an email from Debi Mintz, a fellow math instructional coach, sharing an article suggesting that high school should seriously consider integrating their math courses.

Integrated math might be key to student achievement

For some reason, it really struck a chord in me and prompted my following reply. It is really just food for thought from a rambling teacher who was probably just interested in procrastinating from mowing the lawn and washing the car! Here is my contribution to the Integrated Pathway versus Traditional Pathway debate brought upon us by Common Core:

My thought: Regardless of the names used to identify the courses taught in high school, the courses will have to become somewhat integrated in order to incorporate the high school standards on statistics and modeling throughout grades 9, 10, and 11 (in time for the Smarter Balanced test). Waiting for students to take a course specifically on statistics and modeling is not an option. 
Additionally, even in a traditional pathway, integration will naturally occur because...
1.   the Geometry teachers will be expected to incorporate Algebra into their teaching to avoid the Algebra drop-off during the students' one year vacation from algebra.
2.   the Algebra 2 teachers will be expected to incorporate Geometry into their teaching to refresh students' Geometry skills in preparation for the the Smarter Balanced test in Grade 11.
As an uninformed outsider (I am only an elementary coach), integration is going to happen whether we like it or not. The question is how will that integration occur? Will we use traditional textbooks and require teachers to haphazardly infuse their own integration? Or will high schools select textbooks that account for (and incorporate) the integration that naturally must occur, regardless of what the classes are called?

If you are an interested stakeholder, do you have a thought about the matter?

Friday, August 16, 2013

enVision Pacing Guides

As if teaching isn't a tough enough job, here is the status for a lot of elementary teachers in California:

Pearson Education's enVision (California edition) was published prior to California adopting the California Common Core Standards. So, Pearson kindly created a transition document to guide teachers on how to use the "old" book with the "new" standards. Of course, this was a very nice thing for them to do!

But then in March, 2013, California changed its mind by un-adopting the California Common Core Standards and, instead, adopting something that looks a lot more like the National Common Core Standards. Now we have an "old" book with "new new" standards. Unfortunately, as of this blog post, Pearson has not yet published a nice document to help us make this NEW transition.

So here is where this blog post comes in...
I have made my first attempt at creating pacing guides to help teachers use the "old" California enVision text with the "new new" Common Core Standards. These guides...

  • indicate which lessons can be skipped because they no longer match the standards for that year
  • arranged the topics in a more logical order to create a better "flow"
  • suggest topics that should be taught each trimester for the benchmark assessment

The pacing guides were written in Google Docs, so please feel free to use the Comment Tool to post your thoughts about the guides directly within the document. Or you can post a comment at the end of this blog.

Pacing guides:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

New standards...same old textbooks.

Transitioning to the new Common Core Standards in mathematics will be hard enough for elementary school teachers. They already have a full plate with...

  • teaching larger class sizes than ever
  • having a smaller budget than ever
  • teaching multiple subjects
  • already trying to implement the new ELA Common Core Standards

To add to the difficulty with the transition for mathematics, we are being asked to teach the new standards while using the same old textbooks. Yikes!

While this may be a difficult thing to do, it is not impossible!

I have created proposed pacing guides for grades 3, 4, and 5. These pacing guides identify lessons in the enVision textbook that are not Common Core Standards, and thereby can be skipped over. Additionally, the Topics (and even the individual lessons) have been arranged in an order to improve the flow of instruction, creating a coherent “story”. 

See the pacing guides here.

Some questions you may have:

  • Why only grades 3, 4, and 5? What about TK though 2?
Because TK through 2 use consumables, we are now purchasing materials that are already perfectly aligned with the Common Core Standards. We will, however, have to agree upon benchmark assessments at a later date. At least the TK through 2 teachers don't have to worry about using and old textbook to teach new standards.
  • Will the report cards align with the new standards?
Nope. Not hardly at all. The 2013-2014 will be a bit messy when it comes to the report card. Once the new Common Core-aligned textbooks are purchased in June, 2014, the report cards can be accurately revised to reflect the new standards and the order in which they will be taught.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Getting started with PRIME Time PUSD

Okay, so here we go...!

PRIME Time Math has officially begun.

Pleasanton Resource for Improving Mathematics Education is officially open for business.

During my year as Mathematics Instructional Coach in PUSD, I will be working on two main goals:

  • Helping all K-5 teachers implement the Common Core standards in mathematics
  • Close the achievement gap that continues to persist in Pleasanton

To reach these goals I hope to

  • Create a website with pacing guides, supplemental activities, assessment ideas, etc.
  • Use social media to harness the power of our community
  • Use technology to open new avenues for professional development

We'll see how this goes!