Monday, August 3, 2015

Curriculum Must Haves! {Week 2}

I love reading Diane's blog posts on {Fifth in the Middle} and {Fancy Free in Fourth}.

This week's blog challenge is about curriculum must-haves. 

Our district, perhaps like most, is in a state of turmoil.  We've adopted the Common Core State Standards without curriculum to match, expect teachers to make due with out dated text books (seriously, the books are older than my students), and expect teachers to do more with less...including less money.  Yup, we took a pay cut and an insurance hike, so double whammy to the bank account!  To make matters worse, new to state teachers are given a several thousand dollar hiring bonus and to make up for the teacher shortage, retired teachers are invited back.  I have no issue with (qualified) retired teachers returning to the district, but I do have a problem that they receive both a salary and their retirement accounts.  Yup, they're allowed to double dip into funds, yet current teachers all took a pay cut.  

We also adopted the standards (which I have no problem with), but then rebranded them the Nevada Academic Content Standards (NVACS).  Why?  To deal with the critics who are outspoken against the Common Core.

From what I've read of the Common Core (which is not the whole thing, just the elementary portion), I don't really see a problem.  Are the standards perfect? No, of course not.  But the depth of what is expected of our students is much deeper then previous standards,  Seeing how Nevada is consistently at the bottom in terms of educational testing for a wide variety of reasons, I think challenging our students is a good thing.  When you're close to the bottom, you can only go up!

Long story short, we have no provided curriculum and have to rely on collaboration to create our lesson plans.  There are lots of inconsistencies across the district, but at least everyone in my grade level (and school) are pretty much on the same page.

So let's dive into this week's blog challenge and look at some curriculum must haves:

I can't say enough good things about this book.  We start each math lesson with a warm up that focuses on building number sense. 

We've tweaked it a little to roughly follow this format:

Mental Math Monday: The focus is on decomposing and composing numbers for computation.

Ten Minute Tuesday: The focus is on logic puzzles and brain teasers.

Word Problem Wednesday: The focus is on multi-step word problems and making sense of the problems.

Thinking Thursday: More logic puzzles and "tricky" problems.

Fast Facts Friday: Timed tests to focus on multiplication and division facts mastery.

Must haves:
Teachers pay Teachers products!

My novel guides are a life saver! I'm trying to keep track of several different novels at once with my small groups, so it's nice to have all my notes and homework questions in a nice, organized fashion.  

I've also founds tons of free stations that are great for independent and partner practice during RTI time!

As an added bonus, most stores are having their back to school sale right now! I know everything in my store is currently 20% off!  Go get inspired.


This book was truly a life saver.  I struggled with knowing how to teach phonics, phonemic awareness, and fluency.  I felt pretty good about my comprehension strategies but struggled with foundation skills.  This had great strategies and graphic organizers.  My copy is well loved:

Finally, one of my go to websites: FCRR (Florida Center for Reading Research)

This site has graphic organizers, centers, and games broken into grade level bands (K-1, 2-3, and 4-5).  They've recently added the Common Core State Standards to the center activities so it makes it even easier to find what your students need.

What would you add? Join the conversation!

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