For a little over a year now, I’ve been consulting for a charter school corporation. Until recently, this involved an occasional presentation and/or discussion with the math teachers. Yes, I was doing this prior to being certified, which was a bit strange.
I am often, uhm, uncomfortable with my role, as I am not convinced that charter schools are the best option. Nor am I convinced that they aren’t a viable option. I have many concerns, two of which are the privatization of education and non-union teachers (but I won’t go into this now). The way I reconcile my work with myself is to believe what I’m doing is helping the staff become better teachers, which in turn helps the students. Is this a rationalization? Yep. I can’t get through too many days without one.
This summer another facet was added to my side work. We are putting together a grant proposal for a new charter school (in Ohio). I am co-designing the math curriculum (well, really one of three, if you count our sub-contractor) . It has been an eye-opening experience.
I know well the standards for the state in which I work, NCTM’s Principles and Standards, and the ACT College Readiness Standards. The math standards in Ohio were new to me. Even more interesting was analyzing the Ohio Graduation Test (given during the spring of 10th grade). The more I learn, the more I believe there needs to be unification of the way in which we are assessing mathematics (Dave Marain has written about this here and here). In order to do this, we first need to determine what we want students to learn. Only then can we determine how we will know if they know it. We’ve all heard “a mile wide and an inch deep”. I now know just how true this is.
This post is much longer than I anticipated and I haven’t even begun to say
everything anything about curriculum design. Consider this some background information for my weekend plans – finishing up the remaining course plans, with alignment to standards, of course. I also have to write an overview of the mathematics curriculum (full of edu-jargon – I’m not looking forward to that part). This is due Monday for the next phase of the grant review. At some point I also have papers to grade and lesson plans to make for next week, so, please, don’t write too many interesting posts. I’m having a tough time ignoring this problem as it is.