Subject Level Groups Have it Going On!

    What is the best philosophy for building the most effective math curriculum? While I don't profess to be any kind of expert, I do have 26+ years experience of teaching high school math in a variety of schools, so I am claiming my expertise of 1.

    What variations have I been involved with? Five or more teachers teaching at least one section of a subject, NO other teacher besides myself teaching what I am teaching, no subject meetings (that sucks), subject meetings by department no matter what math class you are teaching, and the outside consult leading the subject meeting. 

     Hands down my most productive years have been working with one or at most two other teachers focusing deeply for an entire year on a single course.

     Although I want to get my little (well, medium) sized nose into everyone's business from not wanting to miss a single thing, the most productive time has been with one or two other teachers digging deep into what has been done, what worked, what can be done, what does the research show us, and tweaking. Algebra is thousands of years old, so why do we keeping hitting it over and over, tearing it apart like some secret held in DNA? We want to get it right, that's why! We are paying more attention to brain research, social research, philosophical changes to education, technological advances and newer teachers.

     Last year it was Algebra 1A...building from scratch, this year it is looking at curriculum that has already been reworked (meaning, teacher hates book, sees all its weaknesses and has developed section by section hand-outs to supplement the crap out of the book) by a very successful teacher...and yet...there is no scaffolding for emergent language learners, little in the way of applications, and no focus on the Common Core State Standards. It is not fun. For me, it is overwhelming. I appreciated its thoughtfulness, as in, "The students have to get more experience with this..." and yet, there are few investigations, no integration of technology, (don't think there has been one Google, Mathblogosphere, or Pintrest search in the hundreds of pages ) and did I mention, no fun?

  The other new-to-this-school teacher colleague and I have been trading notes, looking at what is coming down the pike and asking ourselves how can we investigate this? How can we prepare the students for the CCSS? How can we make this more...FUN? She is an expert with the technology (what 27 year old these days isn't?) I have the deep not money silly, the deep resources...not not money silly, the deep folders (that's it) of projects, investigations, past curricula to go along with our ideas. (She has some deep folders too, don't get me wrong). Between us we teach 7 sections of Algebra 1, enough to make every minute thinking about it worth our while.

    How do you rock subject curriculum?

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