Sunday, February 1, 2015

What's Dictating Your Instruction?

I'm willing to put money on this.  Every teacher who has taught mathematics using a textbook has at one time or another completely disregarded the state standards and taught whatever was in the textbook. I remember my first year teaching in Georgia, we were told to teach the textbook from cover to cover, starting with chapter 1. That year, 42% of my fifth grades passed the CRCT. 

Now I know there are a lot of factors that go into the low scores. Superfical, one instructional approach of the textbook being a main factor. In addition to that, the textbook covers a lot of material not within a specific grade level's standards. 

Let me be a little more specific. During a hallway conversation with a fellow 7th grade math teacher, it dawned on me. She mentioned she was currently teaching slope and rate of change. Although I'm new to the grade level, I worked extensively with the standards during the summer. My response of slope and rate of change being an 8th grade standard was met with an even more interesting response. 

When teachers have taught the same grade level for many years, it's only natural that you use your experiences to guide your instruction and no longer refer back to the standards. So her response was a natural one. Her experiences gave her confidence in knowing she needed to teach slope and rate of change. The only problem is, several years ago Georgia adopted CCSS and within Common Core Georgia Performance Standards slope and rate of change are 8th grade expectations. 

In her defense, the textbook confirmed her notion by having lessons specific to those concepts within the 7th grade book. Like I told her, you have to be careful to compare the textbook with the standards. The textbook companies are in it to maximize their money. They create their books to market them to mutliple states. Although it has a picture of Georgia on the cover, it still isn't fully aligned to the CCGPS. 

Is the textbook dictating your instruction? Are you running the risk of not going deep enough with your grade level standards because you're covering standards outside your grade level?  Could you be creating misconceptions for students by introducing a concept they are not developmentally ready for nor have the proper foundations?

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