Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Developmentally Appropriate?

Okay, I have to start by saying that I am a huge fan of Common Core math. I think that while it is hard for adults to understand, it is really built to fit with the way kids think. My third graders are just eating up the Engage New York program. They already understand topics better than my fourth graders did last year. Plus, the models help kids focus on what questions are asking instead of trying to guess the right equation based on a story problem.

That being said, I am struggling with the Common Core approach to reading and writing. I agree that the things it is asking kids to do are good and important, but are they developmentally appropriate? We are working on information writing in class, and the students are asked to research, plan, and write their own information books. They are really struggling with this - all of them. Even my top students are just doing okay with it. I had the same problem with narrative writing last trimester.

Now, of course there is the explanation that I am just not teaching the reading and writing parts correctly. I am fully open to this option, but then my question is... how do I teach it better?

Our school is using Lucy Calkin's new program. I think it is called Writing Pathways. I find that some lessons are very successful, and I will admit the kids are learning a lot. On the other hand, many of the lessons flop and I have to go back and reteach another way. This curriculum was definitely more successful last year with the fourth graders. The third graders this year are really struggling with it. 

It seems like third graders are still struggling to write complete sentences. Adding the complexity this program requires is just sometimes too much for them.

How do you teach writing? Is there something that works really well for third graders? Thank you for sharing!

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