Posted March 18, 2020
by Susan Van Zant and Nancy Volpe, Educational Services Specialists, CORE
There is no mystery about time. Students attend school a set number of hours each week and days each year. At each grade level they have a lot of skills and knowledge to learn. Establishing specific times that reading and math are taught is a good beginning. However, if time is not used efficiently during the allocated periods, student learning time is lost. Often precious minutes slip away because good time management practices are not in place.
Ten minutes might not seem like much, but it can add up. For example, students take three minutes to enter the class and quiet down, the teacher waits two minutes while three students look for their materials, a student sharpens a pencil for a minute, one group needs three minutes to transition to another, and a class disruption lasts for a minute. It all adds up. Just 10 minutes a day adds up to 50 minutes a week. In a typical school year, it would add up to about 1,800 minutes. Divide that 1,800 minutes a year by 180 days of school, and that is the equivalent of 10 school days lost. READ MORE
Posted March 12, 2020
Implementing a new curriculum is a challenging process. Often the organization, layout, and even the instructional approach can be drastically different from the previously used curriculum. Change takes time, especially if that change includes learning new instructional practices. Taguma and Barrera (2019) cite teacher commitment, beliefs, and content and pedagogical understanding of the new curriculum as key factors that either facilitate or impede successful curriculum implementation. READ MORE
Posted March 5, 2020
Every day, we wake up to new stories about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). More than a decade ago, there were similar headlines about another pandemic, the swine flu (H1N1), as it spread from Mexico into the United States.
At that time, I oversaw student services, including nursing and medical services, for the San Diego Unified School District, the second largest school district in California. Because of our proximity to the Mexico border, we were on the front line of the pandemic.
Sure enough, one of our students was one of the first people infected with H1N1 in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention flew a team to San Diego. As more cases appeared, they ordered the closure of two high schools and a middle school. Fortunately, we had planned for that possibility.
The lives of our parents and students were disrupted for a few days. But when no new cases appeared, and the threat H1N1 receded, life returned to normal. As I look back on that experience, there are four lessons I’d offer school district leaders today.
Posted February 14, 2020
By Dean Ballard, Director of Mathematics, CORE
When I started teaching math 35 years ago, chapter tests were easy to grade. Typically, a test had 20–25 problems and I simply made each problem worth four or five points, whatever was needed to make the total 100 points. In many math curricula today, there may be only 5–10 problems total on a chapter, module, or unit assessment. Suppose I have a test with nine problems. If I assign equal weight to each of these problems, and a student gets six out of nine problems correct, this student would have a score of 67% correct. This often translates into a grade of D. Yet six out of nine correct may warrant a better grade when we consider the actual knowledge displayed by correctly answering those six problems.
Many teachers use a standard percent to grade relationship when determining grades for students: 90–100% is an A, 80–89% is a B, 70–79% is a C, 60–69% is a D, and below 60% is an F. Ten years into my teaching career two parts of this grading system started to strike me as questionable. First, even if a student correctly answers 59% of the problems deemed appropriate to include on the assessment, that student is considered failing. Second, since I’m the one determining the weight of each problem on an assessment, what does the percent correct, or percent of total points, really mean? READ MORE
Posted December 18, 2019
By Dean Ballard, Director of Mathematics, CORE
Implementing a new curriculum is a daunting task. Often the organization, layout, and even the instructional approach can be drastically different than the previously used curriculum. Change takes time, especially if that change includes learning new instructional approaches. Therefore, the first year or two of implementing a new curriculum may be focused on changing instructional practices and deepening the knowledge base of teachers and instructional leaders. Taguma and Barrera (2019) cite teacher commitment, beliefs, and content and pedagogical understanding of the new curriculum as key factors that either facilitate or impede successful curriculum implementation. For example, if teachers do not know some of the new pedagogy that is embedded within the new curriculum, they will need more professional learning and support.