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Home : 2002 : Mar : 2

    getting down to the basics
    By Carolyn

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    At least you are conscientious enough to realize that this is a problem. I don't know the reasons why you are behind, though. Did you spend too much time on each concept in math, for instance? I teach fifth grade, and there is such a mountain of math curriculum standards for me to climb (and all before the state test at the end of April!) that I must move at a very fast pace to get there. During the period of time from August, when school starts, and April, I must cover the entire course curriculum in math, and believe me, that is really tough! The only way to get through all of this is to teach it, hope they get it, remediate those who don't, while helping the entire group to move on to the next math concept, all the while reviewing everything they have learned so that they don't forget it. On any given day, my typical math hour involves: 1) ten minute review of previously learned skill; 2) ten-fifteen minutes of checking homework, which was also a previously learned skill; 3) new material; 4) assignment of previously learned skill. Now, as we move closer to the state test time (It's next month!), I am spending one and one-half hours a day on math. This is where my students are the weakest.

    If you are behind in science or social studies, don't worry about it. I am only going to cover two of five units in social studies this year. I may, if I am lucky, finish science. Our primary focus should be math and reading.

    I am not sure what grade you teach, but if you teach an upper elementary grade, such as I do, you don't need to worry about covering each basal reader chapter. The main goal is improving comprehension skills.

    I would like to suggest that before next year starts, you set up a long-range plan for yourself and stick with it. Within your long-range plan, make up a month-by-month plan, and from that you will make up a weekly plan. Know what you want to accomplish each month. I know it's impossible to stick with the plan perfectly--there are always unforeseen circumstances which may set you back--but a long-range plan is the most helpful aid in accomplishing what you need to for the year. Check with your school district to see if there's a curriculum guide or pacing guide which they would like you to follow.

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