Guest Teacher Post: The Value of New Things in a Classroom

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Editor's Note: Julie Stern is a 6th-grade English language arts teacher at East Cary Middle School in Cary, NC. She is currently working towards certification as a Curriculum Pathways® Master Teacher. In this guest post, Julie describes how her students and colleagues have responded to new digital resources.

 

As teachers, we've all said, "I cannot do one more new thing in my classroom. My state or county is already requiring me to do these other initiatives."

But would it be worth the effort if you saw students engaged with core curriculum content and then heard them say, "This was such a fun class! Do we get to do this again tomorrow?," or "I learned something today I never knew before," and "Can I do this at home too?" This is what my classroom is filled with when I use SAS Curriculum Pathways.

With inContext students explore reading, writing, and other language arts skills.

As a 6th-grade ELA teacher, I see students become engaged with lessons using SAS Curriculum Pathways resources. They are not only using technology, but can complete Common Core lessons and activities at their own level and pace. In addition, SAS Curriculum Pathways offers students the ability to work together.

Recently, I had my enrichment/remediation students review the plot structure of short stories. The students got into groups of five and used the Interactive Tool inContext to review the elements before writing their own short stories. After deciding the story’s overall theme, main characters, and setting, they chose which part of the plot they would write on their own computers using inContext. Once all group members finished, they discussed ways to transition the sections together to create their final story. My students were focused, felt challenged, and were excited to see how their creative ideas contributed to completing the story. Since they were able to e-mail me their individual sections of the plot, we pieced the parts of their stories together for display in our classroom library.

While students often get the opportunity to work together, I recently found the advantage of having teachers collaborate across the curriculum—using SAS Curriculum Pathways. My social studies teammate was teaching about Ancient Egypt and I found the Inquiry Ancient Egypt: King Tut's Tomb, which perfectly tied into my "Who Am I? unit. After students explored and analyzed the contents of King Tut’s tomb, they couldn't wait to share with me all they had learned. They enjoyed seeing real pictures of artifacts, and I was glad the resource had concise background information, clear directions, and provided all of the necessary links.

Students used inContext to work on story plots.

In my follow-up English lesson, students examined how possessions represent who we are and eagerly created lists of items they would want in their own tombs. When discussing their tomb items as a class, even my quieter students were excited to share their ideas.

Student reactions have clearly shown the benefits of integrating engaging technology—and particularly SAS Curriculum Pathways—into my instruction. The resources allow students to explore and learn a variety of objectives from the Common Core. Students are able to work at their own pace and can often make choices along the way. Through differentiation, teachers can challenge students at their own levels.

The positive student response has inspired my teaching colleagues to use more SAS Curriculum Pathways resources and collaborate across the curriculum to reinforce the Common Core State Standards, particularly in literacy. For any teacher, SAS Curriculum Pathways is one new thing worth doing!

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About Author

Ralph Moore

Ralph Moore coordinates and conducts professional development for Curriculum Pathways. He works with schools and organizations around the country and has presented at conferences for organizations such as the National Council for the Social Studies and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. A former army officer and social studies teacher, he spent 10 years on the Curriculum Pathways humanities team creating new digital curriculum products.

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