Thursday, September 1, 2016

Day 7: What To Do

I have an issue to resolve.

I have 2 sections of Math 7 and 3 sections of Pre-Algebra.  One of the sections of Pre-Algebra seems to be missing the skills and content necessary for that course.  They struggle with many basic ideas, such as integer operations and other content that is covered at the beginning of Math 7.

So what do I do with them?

I spoke with my co-teacher for that course and she suggested that I keep them with the Math 7 curriculum for the first few weeks, while pushing them a bit harder.  I think this is a viable solution, since the content between the courses has a considerable amount of overlap.

It does, however, make me uncomfortable.

The traditionalist in me says that the curriculum for a course is there for a reason.  These are the expectations of the course and those students who don't have an understanding of the requisite skills are not being served well by being enrolled.

Last year, my physics course had the prerequisite of a C average in Algebra 2.  There were several students, however, who had not met this requirement, and struggled enormously as a result.  Through no fault of their own, they should not have taken the class.

The newer version of me says that we need to meet the kids where they are.  They are in my class, this is the situation, I need to find the best way to get them to where they need to be by the end.

This year, I'm not sure what the situation is, except that 2 of my classes are ready and one seems significantly behind.

I recognize that some of my reticence to modify the curriculum is out of the laziness of wanting to keep all of the sections at the same place.  I know that my co-teacher will help me with this, but I'm not sure if it's best for them.  There is a high number of students in that class with disabilities, both physical and academic.  The needs are greater than I have dealt with in the past and I'm concerned about not meeting them.

Normally, in a situation such as this one, I would scale back the difficulty and complexity of the problems that I ask, but with 7 days in, I'm not sure that's going to be enough for this group.  It's my largest class and, even with the co-teacher, I don't know if I can provide them with the individual attention that they will need.

Do I push, or do I wait?

This is something that I'll have to think about more.


  1. Tough question. Can you supplement? I think I'd move along with constant iterations of the missing skills: warmups, a Friday quiz (10 question "skills quizzes" I've done in the past), flash cards at beginning of class, posters on the wall for them to refer to, building those skills into the new curriculum. How long are your classes? Is there time for small additions over the year?

  2. I agree with Susan, Also, at TMC16, I was in the session about presses sing and differentiation by @parkstar. The biggest take away was to pretest pre-requisites for the standards of the unit, and then do stations to backfill needs or enrich, prior to teaching. Takes some time, but she says it saves time in the end.

  3. I have the same problem. I work with kids who have missed a ton of instructional time... Either being in the office, in the hospital, at home in bed, or a physical body in a seat with a mind somewhere else. I think it's incredibly important to "meet them where they are," but I also have qualms with the fact that my "Algebra 2" class is really more like "Advanced Algebra 1." I think it's the system that's to fault for putting so many kids into this kind of situation. At the end of the day, I always lean towards doing what's best for kids, even if it means not adhering to the curriculum as strictly as I'd ideally want to.


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