Tuesday, August 20, 2013

PD that is Perfect

I know....nothing is really perfect, but I'm super glad I signed up for the two day training I'm doing this week. Today was day 1 and we finish up tomorrow. A TON of information but I am really glad I decided to do this PD.

For a long time, well before I started teaching, I'm sure, there has been a big disconnect in terms of curriculum in my district. When I was a student teacher, there were buildings that weren't even using the same math series. So if you went from, say the north side of the district to the south side, you might be walking into a completely different math program. My first year of teaching, they adopted Everyday Math across the district. We also have Reading Street now that is district wide. 

Science and social studies, however, are often not taught AT ALL in certain buildings. People will say they have "no time". Last year, I managed to teach a split and still get in science and social studies and didn't understand how my colleagues with only one grade could claim they didn't have "time". Um, yes you do! You FIND the time.

So this two day PD, with a half day per core subject (science/social studies/ELA/math) addresses exactly how the district expects us to move forward. We have pacing guides and UNIT PLANS already laid out. I just have to teach them! As someone who is in vastly unfamiliar territory, this is AWESOME because otherwise I'd be like a fish out of water starting in 1st grade because I'm not familiar with anything that they do.

I had science this morning and social studies this afternoon. I am really excited about the new units they have put together and the expectation that everyone WILL teach all content areas this year. Period. It's about time too! 

In Michigan, 5th and 8th graders take a standardized test in Science. I had 9 5th graders take the test last year. Not a single one of them passed it. Most of them got a 4 (which is the worst score). Its simply because science has not been taught consistently throughout their schooling from grade to grade. They are trying to rectify that (and it's about time too! *wink*). 

In K-2 we have our schedules aligned as follows: 145 minutes of ELA, 90 minutes for math and 35-40 minutes of science/social studies. This is on a daily basis (except science/social studies is only 4 days per week to account for specials). You might be thinking "wait....that means 15-20 minutes a day of science or social studies". Nope, they even outlined it that we start with science and teach our unit for 4 1/2 weeks, then we switch to the social studies unit and teach it for the last 4 1/2 weeks of the marking period. So we have one unit per marking period for science and social studies. 

I love that I'm not expected to try to get it all in since they increased our ELA time at the early grades (initially it was 120 minutes across the K-5 range). I'm really excited for the ELA PD tomorrow because I think they have really made some good changes to what they want us to do, taken out things they wanted us to do last year that didn't provide us with any real support for our kiddos and streamlined things so from Day 1, we know exactly where and what we need to be doing. 

It is definitely going to make my transition to 1st grade a million times easier!


The Caffeinated Teacher

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