Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Proposed Curriculum Sequence Change

New York State has the CCLS broken down into five modules.  Each module is broken down into topics.  (You can see what they have come up with for module 1 here.)  The thing that I've been questioning is the sequence of the modules.  This past year I've re-aligned my sequence of instruction to model the modules, except I completed the unit (I still have "units" within the modules, not topics) on Coordinate Geometry in the middle of the Congruence module.  This worked very well.  So much of this unit is review from Algebra, so it was helpful to do this at the beginning of the year before students forgot their prior knowledge.  According the suggested sequence of modules, Coordinate Geometry is the fourth out of the five modules to teach.  This means that this unit would be taught in March.  Last year, I followed a curriculum map from the school where I student taught and this unit was second to last (taught in April).  This did not work out well because I had to essentially re-teach so much of the prior knowledge.

For that reason (and a few more), I'm considering moving Three-Dimensional Measurement to the beginning of the year.  (This module is listed third out of the five.  This unit will fall in the February to March range.)
  • Firstly, I notice that even the simplest prior knowledge that you'd expect sophomores (and advanced freshmen) to have internalized from elementary school is lost.  (For example:  area of a rectangle formula, area of a triangle formula, etc.  They seem to think "length times width times height" is the answer for everything.)  
  • Secondly, I believe this is the unit that students expect to learn when entering Geometry.  Perhaps meeting their immediate expectation and branching off from it to the other units of study would help students to better adjust to Geometry.  
  • Thirdly, it's so Algebra based that it will review Algebra while introducing Geometry.  I think this will help ease students into Geometry as opposed to the jolt that seems to occur when students realize what Geometry really is about.  
  • Lastly, students have such a difficult time visualizing three-dimensional space.  However, they are more accustomed to visualizing three-dimensional shapes.  I want to use the three-dimensional shapes to teach about points, lines, and planes.  I think students will be able to understand these terms and their accompanying concepts much more easily when looking at a prism than a strange looking diagram of lines going in three or more different directions.  At least, that's what I experienced when looking at different test prep questions with my classes.  The points, lines, and planes questions using three-dimensional shapes had much better results than the questions showing random diagrams.
 With all these reasons, it makes me wonder if there is something that I am overlooking.  Is there a reason why we don't start the course with a unit that bridges Algebra and Geometry together?  Thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. A similar idea - using algebraic reasoning - would be to start off with some ideas of transformations on the coordinate plane. Very algebraic thinking there and the opportunity to review linear functions, discuss distances and slopes, talk about symmetries, reflections, etc.

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