I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

16 August 2012

Scripted Curricula

What with school starting Monday and all, it was not really the happiest bunch of teachers over at the Treasures training today.

Treasures is our new District language arts...thingamajig.  It is not our curriculum in that we are not required to use it; rather, we are to regard it as a "resource".

...a resource we spent three hours reviewing.  It's not much time - nowhere enough to really be ready to use the program.  And yet it's an eternity: no matter how many hours a teacher has put in already, there's always too much to do to be off campus looking at pamphlets for an afternoon.

Besides, many schools haven't even unwrapped their Treasures yet, and no one seems to know what the District purchased - since they probably didn't buy every component, it's hard to get excited about resources we may or may not have.

Since my school is one of the "Balanced Literacy" schools using Teachers College stuff, we were especially not looking forward to Treasures.  However, I think it will be useful for the new teachers in that it has a fully-planned scope and sequence for phonics, spelling, and phonemic awareness.  Readers Workshop suggests that you read Words Their Way, research your kids, figure out what they need, and then make your plans (plus all the materials you will need, which can be extensive).  A teacher with experience can do this.  A teacher who is new has way too much else to do, and doing everything guarantees failure everywhere.

Overall the thing looks fine; some of the big books will be good to have, and my leveled library always needs more titles.  It is not quite as scripted as Open Court (and certainly has nothing on Saxon Math, which not only told the teacher exactly what to say but provided right and wrong answers that children might give, plus appropriate responses to child answers).

Otherwise, I would say that my site is very excited: very excited to work together, for a new year, to try new things, etc.  And then very excited because every classroom at our school is big - all of the Kindergartens and first grades have 23 or more children - and class lists are still not available.  That's a lot of names to write, even though I assume that not all of those registered will appear.  And time is running out.


Anonymous said...

I just kept wondering how much money the district spent on all those materials. It (literally) takes hours to unpack a box-- considering we are in a fiscal crisis right now, and this is not an adopted curriculum, it just seems somewhat wasteful.

E. Rat said...

Not to mention the time expended and movers' salaries paid to shift the boxes from wherever they got dropped off to somewhere they will not be seen on the first day of school. I know a number of schools who haven't been able to get them unpacked yet.

From the Board Agendas, the rationale seems to be

1. We're going Common Core (in 2013-4), so we need this.
2. HM workbooks are expensive and hard to find.
3. HM is old.

I can't think of any reason to buy such a large assortment of the available materials with such little site input unless the District is worried about a Williams complaint over available ELA materials, though. And even then it is such a big and strange expense.

rpnorton said...

Glad you have OK things to say about Treasures. As you pointed out, the administration thinks HM was not very effective, plus it was old, plus it was getting difficult (not to mention expensive) to replace materials. Schools in the Zone used Treasures last year, to good effect, so the Superintendent asked us to purchase the curriculum for every school. And what should we do? Buy it for some schools and not others? If we really think it is better than HM (based on experience with a pilot group of schools), it's not very defensible to buy it for some schools and not others. But yes, it was an expensive decision.