Saturday, December 8, 2012

Of Teaching Less and Steaks?

I think I'm getting smarter.  At least I hope so in this instance.  I have decided to reduce the amount of new content per week to just three new math lessons. Three lessons -- only three new lessons a week??!!  In the past I would do four in a weeks time, but now just three??!!

Providing just three math lessons to my 6th graders is a stretch for me.  I have this nagging sense that I am not doing enough -- that I am somehow slacking off and denying my students the opportunity to maintain a somewhat accelerated pace though the curriculum.  I fight the feeling that I am short-changing my sixth graders by not providing "enough" content weekly. And yet, I think that in the end, three new lessons weekly is the best for student learning.

Below is my modified schedule to accommodate three lessons weekly:

 (*Note: The independent practice for a lesson is done the first thing the day after the guided and collaborative practice.)

Here are a few reasons why I am moving to this framework:
  1. Marinating Steak:  I truly believe that students need lots of time to soak up  new math concepts.  Like a steak that has been marinated for hours, students require opportunities to practice new learning over the course of days.  (Especially with decimals and fractions!)
  2. Keeping Pace:  Even in teaching just three lessons a week, I should be aligned to the pacing guide set by our school district.
  3. Stress Reduction:  I think by reducing the amount of the "new", students will feel less anxious  knowing that we will continue to practice the new concepts learned the week before on Mondays.
  4. Flexibility: With the adjustment to the schedule, not only will we be better able to review material, but we will also be able to use Mondays and Fridays to assess understanding. I can target these days as days to administer quick quizzes or unit tests.
Am I getting smarter about my teaching? We'll try this for a few weeks and see...


  1. Hmmm, when I think in terms of my own learning, your theory holds true. For me it takes a bit of practice before new learning "clicks". Having more time for assessment should help the direction to be more intentional also so that may end up saving time because you're giving the kids what they really need rather than just going lesson by lesson. I'm curious to hear how it goes.

    1. Thanks, Mrs. Stokes. I agree with you and think that the time gained by approaching it this way might allow for more time spent presenting some differentiated activities which would support their mastery of the concept, as well as assessment.

  2. I agree with your changes. Also, consider that learning does not always stay on a schedule. I flip 6th grade math lessons and some weeks we do three videos and some weeks only one depending on the formative assessment of the classwork.

  3. Thanks, Mrs. Delaney. You are absolutely right that learning does not necessarily follow a schedule. A good reminder not to be too rigid with this framework. Then again, I just pray that my efforts in the classroom to provide this expansion of "think time" can be sustained with the district pacing guide and it's required assessments.

  4. I teach history not math but I also had a similar epiphany last year. We were covering so much content so fast that I couldn't fully assess whether students were truly grasping it or not- this year I significantly reduced the content I'm delivering per week. We used to cover 5 topics per week now we only cover 3. At first I also felt like I was slacking off, but I have noticed that it has been a far better pace for my students. I'm interested in hearing how it works out for you.