The school year is officially halfway over. It’s time to evaluate where we are in the curriculum and how I can continuously implement my plan for success! I teach 6th grade Math and Science and I LOVE my job!
This school year, my biggest challenge was the realignment of math curriculum using the new Common Core Math Standards. The standards are a simple update in theory, but this task can get daunting when you look at the magnitude of realigning and reconfiguring an entire academic year. However, there are some definite benefits in doing this; we can get stuck in a comfort zone and without these shake ups we wouldn’t seek out the time to keep recreating what we use. While it’s easier to continue the same curriculum you’ve always used, it’s good to shake things up a bit and I am so thankful I did! I feel reinvigorated. My days are so much fun and my creativity is abundant again. Sometimes it’s the breath of fresh air that allows us to reconnect and realize a better way of teaching and impacting children.
After a week of reworking, rewriting and a few moments searching for the almighty savior of chocolate, (a true staple in any teacher’s emergency kit!) taking some time to also realign how I’ll use ST Math is a big must. I rely so heavily on this program for the visual and cognitive aspects that traditional programs just don’t bring. Last year, this was the bread and butter of my program and it showed in my students’ proficiency. Believe it or not, by the end of year most of my kids were able to successfully navigate some high school level equations. No, I don’t teach G.A.T.E. (Gifted And Talented Education) programs and no I didn’t have only “superstars” in class. I have every day students that many teachers also have, but they found a love for math thanks to JiJi and game-based learning. A little fun can do wonders for math education and teaching.
After the first couple weeks of school I am happy to report that my new model of using a flipped classroom for math is working gloriously! The kids love the fact that they preview the lessons at home, take an after preview quiz then come in the next day and we have a round table review. We then go into co-op groups to work on problem solving, performance tasks and sometimes a math game challenge or two. When co-ops have completed their required items, students go into independent seat work also known as the dreaded homework! However, this model has removed the dreaded aspect and made it a great way to find success and when needed, the help that may not be available at home. What has not been completed in class becomes the homework along with the preview and check for understanding quiz of the next lesson. I assign a minimum of 30 minutes of ST Math nightly. Thirty minutes seems to be the magic number to keep kids on track and find the most success with this math program.
No matter who you are or what you teach, the bottom line is that a new year can be fabulous and exciting or it can be, well, we all know the alternative. Choose to enjoy it and embrace changes as a chance to redefine the nuances that you may have grappled with last year. So, here’s to another year of adventures, learning and impacting kids!