Creativity, Curriculum and the Common Core | Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools
Our curriculum has been developed to meet the requirements of current and national guidelines and our commitment to the provision of a wide range of subjects. They wanted to explore whether a science curriculum developed through the theme of creativity and taught through the arts could meet the needs of the children. When I met with the teacher I was replacing, she recommended I used the earth science textbook because it was “easier.” I followed her advice.
We would do well to grapple with the implications of the cautions he raises, particularly as it pertains to the role of curriculum in school reform. Nichols argues that we are living in a dangerous age.
Engage students in the curriculum!
The problem is that: We sometimes resist this conclusion because it undermines our sense of independence and autonomy. But constraining yourself to something proven to work is the surest path to getting results. I see this challenge every time we interview young, eager recruits—particularly those from top colleges and universities.
Can I do that here? But I cringe a little when I reflect on the cost to students of the freedom I was given at the time. In education we have been conditioned to believe that mandating curriculum is akin to micromanaging an artist.
InCory Koedel and Morgan Polikoff published results from a study comparing the effects of mathematics textbook choices on student achievement in California.
That so many ed reformers have steered clear of advocating for proven curricula speaks volumes about how resistant our culture is to anything that puts limits on individual autonomy.
Despite the overwhelming research that suggests that the most important thing school and district leaders can do is choose strong curricula to drive teaching and learning in core content areas, most teachers are repeatedly left to build their own curriculum, on top of everything else we ask them to do to plan, prepare, and teach every day.
These patterns can be used to solve mathematical problems. Skills Can solve two-step word problems using 4 operations Can represent problems using equations that include variables to represent unknown quantities Can identify and explain patterns Second, I planned to cultivate a reflective mindset in my teachers regarding curriculum and to develop a collaborative process for revising curriculum. As a former teacher, I know all too well how the demands of the day can impede the process of reflection on our work, no matter how critical it is or how much we want to find the time.
Knowing that professional development at Levey had been inconsistent in the past, I wanted to set a tone of professional collaboration early on as well as establish some protocols and procedures for how we work together as colleagues.
A goal in my entry plan was to enhance collaboration and reflective practices among faculty. While I have a passion for curriculum design, I decided that bringing in an outside consultant would allow me to be a collaborative member of the team rather than the facilitator of the work.
We agreed to use the model set forth in this book to create the scope and sequence for our curriculum. Our goal was to provide the faculty with a consistent structure for their work. Angela and I continued to meet monthly in order to reflect collaboratively on past professional development meetings and plan for future work sessions.
The model Jamie and I decided to use separates math into topics, then develops lists of concepts, skills, representations, strategies and mathematical language for each topic. Jamie and I focused on completing the concepts and skills for each topic see fig.
This way, teachers would have curriculum to guide their instructional planning, and Jamie and I would have clear next steps representations, strategies, and mathematical language for our continued work in math.
Is A Solid Curriculum a Constraint on Teacher Creativity? - Education Next : Education Next
We divided the mathematics curriculum into topics. Some, like multiplication, we knew would be developed in second through fifth grade. Others, like numbers in base ten, would have concepts and skills in all grade levels. We grouped topics that had fewer grade-specific concepts into grade bands; for instance, teachers wrote concepts and skills for data analysis in PK-2 and Finally, when working on mathematical reasoning, we worked as a PK-5 group, looking for concepts and skills in which all fifth grade students would be proficient before graduating from Levey.
Professional work time occurred during half-days Jamie built into the Levey calendar. This was the first time the Levey community had half-days for professional development, so both Jamie and I were dedicated to ensuring the time was well spent.
Meet curriculum goals with creativity and technology!
We began each session by doing some math together, either a number talk see fig. Then teachers worked in pairs to outline a set of concepts and skills in a mathematical topic, writing their work on large pieces of chart paper.
Through this non-threatening process of design and organization, teachers were able to share their own mathematical thinking and take risks among their peers. This resulted in identifying curricular areas that were more of a challenge for them as well as honing in on gaps in instruction throughout grade levels that left students inexperienced by sixth grade.
Townfield Primary School
By the end of the school year, we had created a set of concepts and skills, either by grade level or grade band, for all the mathematical topics covered in the CCSS. In most cases, the concepts and skills closely mirrored those in the standards but were written in a more useful way for teachers to use in planning instruction.
Jamie typed the lists we had developed, and she and I created a large poster with the entire curriculum arranged in throughlines for teachers to review fig. Our final work session was a chance for teachers to make last-minute revisions to the entire curriculum, emphasizing that this curriculum would be used for a year before reflecting and revising again next summer.Creative thinking: new ideas in education - learning world
It was also a chance for teachers to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in all the hard work we had completed together that year. By looking at math instruction from the eyes and experience of students as they travel K-5, they were able to gain compassion for students in their journeys toward mathematical proficiency as well as a true appreciation for the importance of grade level curriculum.
Teachers took great ownership over their roles in the development of the curriculum, and began to view one another as resources for differentiation. By having an outside consultant facilitate conversation and curriculum development, I found that conversation was open, honest and productive and agendas were completed.
A part of my professional vision is to create a faculty culture where teachers think as critically about my ideas as they do their own; as educators we are on equal footing when sharing ideas and reflecting. As a participating member of the group, I was able to be seen as a non-threatening entity, something that I think can often be a challenge for new administrators.
- How we teach the Creative Curriculum
- Creativity, Curriculum and the Common Core
In my work next year at Levey, I plan to focus on the representations, strategies and mathematical language portions of the math curriculum we are developing. Jamie and I envision teachers with toolboxes of games, lessons and strategies to use with students as they develop the concepts and skills we have identified as the Levey math curriculum. While teachers will still participate in professional development meetings I facilitate focused on developing these toolboxes, Jamie and I hope that a large part of our work together will focus on me either teaching or observing in classrooms and reflecting with teachers afterward.