Jenniffertrinidad’s Weblog

Curriculum Mapping Review

I found the different vendors for curriculum mapping to be very interesting.  Exploring the sites to see what they had to offer was fun.  It was very beneficial to have Jan do a demonstration of the Atlas site and be available to answer our questions.  While having the demonstration was beneficial, not having the other two do a demonstration seemed to sway my opinion in favor of the Atlas curriculum map.  I am a visual, hands on learner so the others were at a disadvantage. 

The structure of the web sites was also something important for me.  If it is not self explanatory, I am easily frustrated and want to leave the site.  At first glance, I found Tech Paths to be the most appealing to me because it has a very simple home page.  On further investigation and after getting the direct access to Atlas, I really liked the Atlas site.  It was very easy to use.  With Tech Paths, one I clicked past the initial page, I didn’t seem to find very much information.  I felt the same about curriculum mapper.

I think this process will be beneficial to me in my future.  I see these types of programs being an eventual step for all districts.  With the standards based movement and districts trying to have what is taught in one 4th grade class be the same in another 4th grade class, curriculum mapping in this format will be a necessity.  Being able to come to the table with some ideas about products that are available will only help in the process.  I do wonder how the changing of state standards, math at the present, impacts the curriculum mapping process.  Would we have to start over?

My Philosophy of Education

            I remember teaching a math lesson about graphs during my first year of teaching.  It was early in the year and many of my first graders had trouble adding.  As I was teaching the lesson I distinctly remember wondering why I was teaching this when the kids needed more time to practice adding.  I did it because we had a pacing guide that said on this day you should be on this lesson.  The next year, I taught fourth grade.  As I looked through the math GLEs I began to notice that what the Trailblazers Curriculum had me teaching did not align very well with the GLEs I should be teaching.  I remember looking at the cover of the GLE book and saying to myself that this should be my curriculum.  So after enlisting my teaching partner and talking with the principal, I began to redesign what I taught based on the GLEs rather than the Trailblazers Curriculum.  To my delight, the following year the district I work for did the same thing. This experience leads me to my philosophy of education.

            There are many schools of thought and I think all have valid points.  At the same time they all have something that I do not quite agree with.  In determining my philosophy I will list the schools of thought and the parts that I strongly agree with:

v     Perennialism – one should teach principles, not facts

v     Constructivism – learning is an active process of recreating knowledge

v     Existentialism – not a set of curricular materials but a point of view that influences all that the teacher teaches and how he or she teaches.

Those are the three schools of thought that I strongly connected with.  I guess that makes me a Perstructialist.

            Perennialism makes sense to me because it is not just a memorization of facts to be used someday on jeopardy or Jay Leno’s people walk.  I think it is more important for a person to know how to find the facts that they need rather than have them memorized.  I remember in school having to memorize the states and capitals, countries of the world, and the presidents.  I memorized them for the test and could name and place many of them but not all.  I consider myself successful but am not a fact memorizer.  I believe the students in my school should be taught how to find out that information but not required to memorize.  Now, I am not saying memorizing facts should never happen.  I believe math facts should be memorized along with learning the principles of math.  For example, a student should be able to recall mulitplication facts in order to help with higher level math problems but is is just as important to understand that multiplication is combining groups into a larger whole.  Facts should not be the only thing students are taught and expected to know.

            Constructivism says that learning is an active process where the teacher gives information and students use the information to recreate their own knowledge.  As a teacher I see this happen each and every day.  If the process was not active then what I say would go into the students brain and my knowledge would become the students’.  Any teacher will tell you that this is not the case.  I am often surprised when I teach a lesson and set the students off to work that one of my students took what I said and created knowledge in their own mind that I was not expecting.

            Existentialism is one of the schools of thought that I identify with because it favors independent thinking.  Our current education system is changing and as teachers we need to be thinking outside the box to find what works best for our students.  There is not a text book out there that will meet the needs of all of our students.  This school of thought also says that students should be thinking outside the box and not just accepting what they see on TV or other outside source as fact.

            To sum it up, I believe that students need to learn principles that will help them get through life and how to take information to recreate their own knowledge.  As teachers, we need to teach students how to do these things without relying on a canned textbook that does not meet the needs of all students.

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