Problem of Practice Intro and Overview

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This week in CEP 817:  Learning Technology Through Design, I was asked to brainstorm about various problems of practice within the workplace to use throughout the course.  This particular problem will be addressed and, throughout the duration of the semester, I will be working to develop a design model for improving or even correcting the problem at hand.  The problem that I have decided to tackle is one that is directly related to the math curriculum in my second grade classroom.

Currently, we do not have a designated math textbook series to use.  The current math curriculum was created by my grade level peers prior to my move to second grade.  The curriculum is broken down into major concepts that must be taught and understood throughout the course of second grade before advancement to third grade.  Once those concepts were decided upon, quarterly binders were created, and handouts/worksheets were inserted in to these binders to teach these concepts.  The idea behind this method was to spend more time on specific areas, tailor the curriculum to fit the needs of students while still aligning with state standards, and to allow flexibility when needed.  A textbook doesn’t always allow for flexibility and may not always allow enough practice for key concepts that are taught in second grade.  While the purpose of a flexible, personalized curriculum has wonderful potential, I don’t feel like all resources are being utilized as they should, therefore students are not exposed to a math curriculum that is rich in resources, hands on tools, and real world approaches. Instead, the pedagogy is instrumentally presented and students are assessed via daily worksheets to arrive at the “correct” answers, instead of developing thinking for application of concepts taught.

Not having a textbook doesn’t necessarily pose a problem for me, because I would only use the text as a supplement to my teaching of the concepts anyway.  Without the use of a textbook does allow for more emphasis spent on specific content, as well as tailoring the curriculum to our ever-changing standards, where a textbook may not align properly.  However, the worksheet and handout approach is not something that is going to contribute to long-term benefits and rational thinking from our students and I feel that this will hinder them later in their educational experiences.

I would like to present a re-designed curriculum to my administration who have also expressed concerns with the curriculum and the peers in my grade level, while also piloting a prototype of the curriculum in my classroom.  This would allow for modifications and additions prior to full implementation across all of second grade classrooms.  My preliminary thoughts involve creating an approach that involves online learning, concepts from flipped classrooms, and opportunities for technology use by students, rather than daily worksheets.

I look forward to moving on to the next step of this process and eventually the development of the final project.

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