Are you teaching a new grade level or subject this year? If so, have you had time to investigate the instructional materials provided by the district for the grade or course you are teaching? Sometimes when we have short notice of a change of assignment there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to plan.
Three years into my teaching career I moved between campuses and inherited a book cart full of materials for my new assignment. I had no idea which materials were current or most aligned to the standards for the course I would be teaching! To make things more difficult, I was a singleton teacher and had no one to ask. It took me a long time to wade through what I had and I am quite sure that I was missing components of the material that came with the original purchase.
If you are in a similar position consider the following as you navigate your new role and review the materials you have.
- What types of materials do you have?
Are your materials comprehensive or supplemental?
A comprehensive material is one that supports instruction for a course’s full curriculum and is provided for all students. Such materials would include broad, deep discussions of content; remediation and enrichment activities; formative and summative assessments; as well as teacher resources.
Supplemental resources are not designed to be the sole instructional resource for a course. Instead, supplementary materials complement, enrich, or extend the content of comprehensive resources. It seems reasonable that supplemental products will vary in terms of their alignment to standards. Some products may focus on a narrow set of standards, while others, such as test preparation resources, may provide a brief review of all standards.
- What other instructional resources are included with those materials? For example, do you and/or your students have access to additional web resources, or consumables that may engage them or help extend their learning? Hopefully you were left a list, or someone else on your team can provide this information to you. If not, it may be worth your time to research the material on the publisher’s website in order to understand all of the components you have at your fingertips.
- Is the material aligned to the standards you are teaching? Sometimes we have older materials that were purchased prior to a standards revision cycle. Those may not address all the current standards students are responsible for learning. How would you know?
- Compare the material’s publication date to the date the new standards were implemented.
- If provided, use the publisher’s correlation to identify which standards are addressed in the instructional material.
- When planning your instruction check that the citation(s) (page, lesson, video, etc.) you plan on using is aligned to the content, context, and cognitive demand of the standards you are teaching. Students won’t learn what they are not taught. So make sure the materials you are using address the entire standards you are teaching.
Thinking back to my third year teaching I would have been a far more effective teacher if I had known to check my materials. I didn’t. I hope this helps you avoid the same mistake so that your students have the best opportunity for success.