Back in January my ELA teammates and I were told we were getting a new curriculum in two weeks and you have to teach it exactly how it is stated, and you cannot use any of the units you have planned for the rest of the year. Say WHAT!?!? We all immediately went into panic mode as 6th. 7th, and 8thgrade had all just received new books from donors choose and were extremely excited to start using them.
Four years ago, we were handed SIX THREE-INCH BINDERS filled with Engage NY curriculum and told we had to teach it in the fall. We tried it out for a year and it was simply not working out. We spent the next three years researching texts and carefully curating a curriculum that was suitable for our student body. We thought we were very successful. Over the last three years, our ELA test scores increased dramatically. Our teachers were excited about what we were teaching, and it was specifically created for our students. No more texts that were way too complex to teach! We even had the whole school on board with common writing techniques. Even with our successes we were still told our curriculum was not good enough. *insert frowny face here*
So here we are back in January when the curriculum bomb was just dropped. Somehow 6thgrade ended up being the only team having to start the new curriculum in January and the 7thand 8thgrade teams were allowed to research curriculums to be introduced. I took this as a leadership opportunity and took off running to look at curriculums on EdReports.org. If you’re unfamiliar with this website, it compares boxed curriculums on several different aspects. It even dives deep into the merit of the curriculums and gives details on texts and lessons the farther you get in.
At this point, I am not against looking at new materials. I love creating curriculum and I was excited to apply what we had learned to new texts. I found two curriculums I really liked: Springboard 2018 and Wit and Wisdom. This was purely on text sets. I’m a sucker for Kwame Alexander and Elie Wiesel. Besides my favorite texts, I noticed that a lot of the texts still seemed way too advanced for my students. I teach at a Title One school that has a massive dual language/English second language student population, so literacy is not our strong suit. We have found that using lower level texts make it so we can still teach to the standards without losing the majority of our students in the confusion. Our scores have proved that this is working, and I think a lot of other teachers would agree this works. We are not getting away from the boxed curriculum thing, so I have to decide what curriculum would be best for my students…. Back to EdReports for me.