Summer is moving right along – it never lasts long enough! I know that some of you are starting to think through how you want to cover all the curriculum next school year.
I wanted to share a really basic planning tool that helped me out –
I started out by listing all the weeks of school, then I filled in weeks that I knew we would be talking about holidays, etc. Then I filled in themes, trying to group them together so they would flow well through the year. For example, I listed Fall, pumpkins, Halloween, etc because they all really fell under the larger “umbrella” of Fall. As the year went on I always revised this – stretching some themes to several weeks and eliminating others. There were some themes that I switched off different years. My goal, my job, was to teach the curriculum. There were some subjects that could be taught through different themes and I just couldn’t fit all of them in every year. I knew I might need to justify what I was doing in my classroom so I needed to know what benchmarks I was teaching in every lesson. Luckily, I never had to – but I knew some teachers had parents or administrators who questioned what they were teaching and why. That is when it is really helpful to be able to talk comfortably about your curriculum.
Here is a sample of an overview of the year, of course it was always revised as the year went on.
I was thinking that Kindergarten curriculum around the U.S. is probably pretty similar. In my district, the curriculum was developed from State Benchmarks – called Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCE’s), and those were written from National Standards. Even though these may be interpreted a bit differently, there must be a lot of similarities, so I thought I would share a very simple overview that I developed – my scope and sequence for the year. Of course this one was written a few years ago, now that I am a full time Nana!
Of course this is a very simplified guideline for the year, but it helped me to think through how I wanted to use themes to integrate different strands of the curriculum.
This scope and sequence doesn’t show how you differentiate your instruction and adapt everything to the little individuals sitting on your rug. Teachers make about a million decisions every day. From how you speak to the children, react to behavior, introduce new topics, include their interests, and assess the children’s learning – you are constantly, often instantly, making decisions. But when you think through the year you can be confident that you have a plan to fit in all the required benchmarks.
I realize the Math column does not give most of you useable information – we used Everyday Math, and were required to go through the program in order, so I just listed the lessons that I planned to cover each month. That is the only area of our curriculum that was really dictated, so of course I followed EDM; but I sometimes added other math activities to supplement or enhance the children’s learning.
I used Talking, Drawing, Writing a lot in language arts at the beginning of the year, along with introducing and reinforcing letters and sounds with my puppets (look under my Language Arts section!) I also used included Writer’s Workshop, and Reader’s Workshop beginning them formally when my students were ready.
In Science our curriculum changed a few times in my last few years of teaching. We had been responsible for life cycles of animals, classifying animals and growth over time. Then they revised it by taking animals away and adding earth materials. Some units like 5 senses and weather were sometimes left out as expectations, but they were important foundations so I always taught them anyway.
One of the most important things new teachers can do during the summer is to become very familiar with their curriculum. When you know what your expectations are for your children by the end of the year it will really help in planning. When I first began teaching we did not have formal curriculum for Kindergarten in our district. I used the report card statements that I would have to grade as a guideline about what the children needed to learn. That is still a good way to start – the report card will give you a good idea of the most important things you will cover, but there are always curriculum areas that are not specifically listed on the report card that you are still expected to teach.
Here is a very simple overview of the statements on our report card in 2009.
I made a binder of all the Kindergarten curriculum – there were pages and pages for each subject area. I included the state grade level content expectations and the district expectations. A few years ago the Kindergarten teachers met together and developed rubrics to help us assess whether children were achieving the curriculum – our scale was from 1-4, to match our report card. It was based on end of the year standards. One problem was that on the mid-year report card a child who was totally on track might get a 2 or 3, because we hadn’t covered the whole benchmark yet. It wasn’t always clear to parents that their child was right where they should be, because of course they wanted their child to get all 4’s!
These might be helpful when you are working on report cards next year!
I hope the heat isn’t getting to you. The stores are starting to fill up with all those great back to school bargains – I think I will always miss the excitement and anticipation of starting the new year!