One of the biggest struggles that I had, when I moved to PA and began my career in fourth grade ELA, was what to teach, in which order, and how to teach it.
Those three little questions were in constant rotation in my head. There was no curriculum, or pacing map, or guide, or standard breakdown for me to follow. A lot of what I taught that first year was from my own research.
Fast-forward to now, and I have a very clear guide on how and what I should be teaching. Now, let me be as clear as possible when I say that I don’t run my classroom like a traditional book curriculum. Meaning, I am not constantly trying to hit all the skills in one week. That’s part of my frustration when it comes to curriculums. I can’t stand how my kids seem to get a handle on something and I change our focus immediately. There is never a clear “Here is our focus”.
Kids can’t learn that way. I found this to be true back when I taught kindergarten. I remember feeling so frustrated that I wasn’t making progress with my ELs. Until I realized that I wasn’t giving them the opportunity to process. One moment, I was reading one book and the next a completely different book. They never had the opportunity to process the information from the first lesson. 5-year-olds or 11-year-olds, it makes no difference. THEY NEED TIME TO PROCESS. THEY NEED TIME TO WORK THROUGH IT.
With that being said, we all know that reading and writing instruction is spiraling, we come back to skills over and over again because they tie all together and it helps to synthesize it all, but when we first begin our instruction on a new skill we need to be mindful of the time we are giving our students to process it all.
That is where my progressions come in to play.
Now, keep in mind that I myself am still working on tweaking a few of these skills. Figurative language, vocabulary, questioning (while I do introduce it in the beginning for a week or so to discuss the different types of questions) theme and quite possible (some of the time) point of view are all skills that I like to discuss on a regular basis. I know. I know. It all sounds like a large contradiction. She teaches them separate… but she doesn’t. Stick with me in this community and hopefully, it will all make sense.
I am attaching the progressions to this post, let me know your thoughts. Take time and look over them and ask questions. Does this all make sense? Does the progression seem natural? Do you see how it could be valuable for learners to have one lesson before the other?
I will discuss more about the learning progressions as we continue in this community, but as always, I am curious to hear your thoughts.