Disqus

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Leeway in Lesson Plans

This lengthy article appeared in today's Seattle Times. It's a discussion about uniform lesson plans, teaching order of subjects, etc. Many quotes from Carla Santorno and Mike Riley (Superintendent in Bellevue). Among them,

"Locally, the Bellevue School District appears to manage its lessons the most. In some subjects it has a long list of required lessons, one for nearly every day.

Other districts, to varying degrees, are standardizing instruction as well. In Seattle, for example, Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorno hopes that a U.S. government or calculus class at Ballard High eventually will use the same syllabus as one at Franklin or Roosevelt or Sealth.

The goal is to provide students with the same academic experiences, regardless of their teacher or school."

And later on,

"Locally, the Bellevue School District appears to manage its lessons the most. In some subjects it has a long list of required lessons, one for nearly every day.

Other districts, to varying degrees, are standardizing instruction as well. In Seattle, for example, Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorno hopes that a U.S. government or calculus class at Ballard High eventually will use the same syllabus as one at Franklin or Roosevelt or Sealth.

The goal is to provide students with the same academic experiences, regardless of their teacher or school."

Carla's take on it,

"When Santorno, Seattle's chief academic officer, arrived last year, she said teachers and principals told her they wanted more support. She told them that she can't provide that unless most of them are using the same books and materials. She expects some tension because teachers won't have as much freedom as they once did. She's not, however, thinking about requiring all teachers to teach the same lesson.

"I have taught in that system, and it's not fun," she says, adding, "It makes you want to sneak around and take care of the faster learners and the slower learners.""

It seems like there could be a middle ground but how to find it? Teachers, what are your thoughts? Will unified lessons help more kids find academic success faster?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

We should seriously look at the high performing districts such as Bellevue and use them as role models.

We had children at an alternative elementary school in Seattle that did not use a standardized curriculum, in fact is was kind of a chaotic, mis matched, curriculum. Depending on which teacher you had, you may or may not cover the same subject matter. You may or may not put an emphasis on science, or math etc. At the traditional elementary things were much more structured. Every third grader does the same science kits, has the same math expectations etc.

I like the latter better. I like predictability, and the security of knowing that no matter which teacher my child gets, the curriculum will be taught. That's not to say that I think teachers shouldn't be able vary curriculum or teach at a faster/slower pace based on their students abilities etc. I just prefer more predictable, standard curriculum.

Anonymous said...

I am all for a comprehensive framework for each subject area in each grade level, but not for scripted teaching. Bellevue has high scores, but is losing families who feel their kids are left behind or do not fit the mold.

Overdependence on scripted teaching does not substitute for or create an engaged teacher. I actually believe it can make the teacher less engaged.

I do like cooperative teaching groups, where teachers who are working with the same or in many cases integrating different disciplines (the easily obvious one is often ss/la) can plan together and create lessons together.

Anonymous said...

As a student in the Bellevue School District, I agree with the previous comment "I am all for a comprehensive framework for each subject area in each grade level, but not for scripted teaching..." This system does ensure that teachers are picking, well, the right things to teach as they are colaborating on ideas. However, it is not appropriate to teach all students the same, and classes occassionally seem to carry irrelevant details.