When the district decided to go away from books and go with hand outs employing an outfit named Engage NY I had my reservations. Engages reputation was less than sterling and I thought the districts plan to provide materials to all of its ELA elementary classrooms was ambitious to say the least especially considering the districts track record.
Not wanting to be that guy who hates puppies just because the district likes them I decided to wait a few weeks before I wrote about it. Such an ambitious plan would undoubtedly have bugs and need some time to work out, especially here in Duval where we can never seem to hit the ground running.
So last week amonth into the school year I started asking elementary school teachers what they thought and most answers started with well let me tell you, and then they would go into talking about how sometimes the lessons were to complex or not complex enough, while other lessons were inappropriate and how the entire curriculum didn’t leave a lot of room for flexibility, reteaching and exploring outside materials.
They did say however that the district had been fairly good with getting teachers materials, though often there weren’t enough to send home and two separate fourth grade teachers complained they were missing materials, so maybe there is a fourth grade glitch but overall at least that part was working much better than I expected.
I felt the initial consensus was somewhere between not that great and ugh, we’re working through it.
Then in the last few days I received the following two notes.
I teach third ela and am on the verge of quitting. The new curriculum is horrible. I have several teachers willing to talk to the media so long as they can be anonymous. The public needs to know that our new curriculum is HURTING our students. They aren’t learning anything. Any idea why this isn’t on the front page of the paper?
We are all at a loss! The new Duval Reads curriculum is horrific, and now we are told that the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments are not aligned to the FSA. In 4th grade we have four Social Studies Lessons and they are at the end of the 9-weeks. We have Social Studies standards to teach, and I can’t quite figure out why the district feels they can overlook that fact. In addition, there is a Florida Statute that states our elementary children are to have 30 minutes of continual exercise per day. Recess is mandated by the state.
I think teachers are willing to try new things, even radical new things but thier ability to teach what they know to be contrary to their students needs is limited. I suspect that many teachers willingness to give the new curriculum a chance is running out.
I have a feeling as the year goes on I will be getting a lot of notes like above and just for the record, I love puppies.
Feel my pain! I love teaching Social Studies! I love coming in costumes and the projects my former students have done show such understanding and creativity – that’s learning! I would love to enhance the ELA curriculum in 5th grade through S.S. like I did when I taught middle school the past 20 yrs.
Now, it’s “embedded” in the elementary ELA curriculum. Um, I hate to inform those with that idea, but a periodic Achieve 3000 article out of context and out of chronological order is no where close to teaching S.S.!
No wonder we see these people being interviewed and can’t answer anything related to their own country correctly let alone world history. S.S. is not an almighty FSA tested curriculum. Thus, its not important according to the “they” who dictate curriculum.
Science is suffering at some schools too as some grade levels are to embed it like they embed S.S. – periodically. Oh, but wait, those almighty tests are mostly nonfiction reading in upper elementary and into middle and high school. Things that make you go, “Hummmm?” Recess? Is there such a thing? Oh, and by the way, our students’ resource classes were 5x/week, then they were cut to 4x/week. Now, our students who have to stay until 4:00 every day for extra hour reading, only get the resource classes of art, music, PE, and media 2x/week on an A week/B week rotation.
Not only are we limiting their ability to learn S.S., the fine arts, and P.E., with only 2 resources per week at 45 mins each, when exactly are teachers to get everything accomplished? I can tell you. Hours at night (3 tonight) and more on the weekend (12 hrs this past one, plus a trip to school on Saturday to attempt to gather a ton of materials for an upcoming lab). The kids are missing out and so are the teachers. Teaching is not fun right now. It’s laborious.