I’m getting ready to attend a staff development workshop this morning on curriculum alignment. Many parents don’t realize that teachers spend many hours trying to improve their teaching methods to meet the increasing demands of state requirements, parental expectations, and societal changes. We are also expected by our superintendent, principal, and colleagues to change and improve our teaching methods from time to time just so we don’t all get bored! My principal doesn’t want to see me teaching the same lesson the same way year after year, any more than I want to be doing it. I don’t even keep my lesson plans from one year to the next because I want to create them each week based on the needs of the current crop of students and their individual needs.
So, today’s topic will be curriculum alignment. That’s a fancy way of saying that what I teach in my classroom must meet state requirements and also prepare my students for a smooth transition to the first grade. I can’t let them play with puzzles and play dough all day and then send them on to first grade to read and do addition. I must teach them the basic language and math skills that will enable them to understand what is taught next year.
I’m sure that many people think kindergarten is a “wing it” sort of class. I think you might be surprised by the sixteen pages of state requirements for kindergarten! If I have a parent who complains too much about the workload or homework or writing, I send the state requirements home. I’ve never had a parent complain again after reading them! Here are just a few examples of what students are required to know:
Grammar/Usage and Mechanics - The student will demonstrate appropriate practices in writing by applying standard English conventions.
Geometry and Spatial Sense - The student will identify common geometric shapes and explore the relationship of objects in the environment.
*Measurement - The student will explore the concepts of nonstandard and standard measurement.
Civics- The student will explain the importance of individual responsibility.
Visual Art History and Culture - The student will recognize the development of visual art from a historical and cultural perspective.
Music Appreciation - The student will learn to appreciate music and expand their listening beyond music currently familiar to the student.
Each of the above requirements has four or five detailed components listed below it. Here are the details for Measurement:
*1. Measure objects using nonstandard units of measurement (e.g., pencil, paper clip, block).
2. Compare objects according to observable attributes (e.g., long, longer, longest; short, shorter, shortest; big, bigger, biggest; small, smaller, smallest; small, medium, large).
3. Compare and order objects in graduated order (e.g., shortest to tallest, thinnest to thickest).
4. Identify the appropriate instrument used to measure length (ruler), weight (scale), time (clock: digital and analog; calendar: day, month, year, season), and temperature (thermometer).
5. Tell time on digital and analog clocks to the hour.
6. Identify the days of the week and months of the year.
7. Identify the coins penny, nickel, dime and quarter.
Yesterday I tested my children to find out how many could identify their coins. Half could NOT identify a nickel. Two cannot identify a penny. A third cannot identify a quarter. We will continue to review coins for a couple of weeks, but to meet the requirements for the last nine weeks of school I must move on to addition and subtraction.
I’m looking forward to the workshop and hope to gain further insight into how to prepare my students for first grade.