Planning to fail?


#MTBoSBlaugsust: Day 2

The biggest reason I joined the 9th grade team at my school was to work closely with the other 9th grade math teacher. Being able to co-plan with another teacher is incredible. We are able to bounce ideas back and forth, share the burden of planning and creating resources and compare student progress to change our practice and improve our teaching.

Today we sat down to plan out the first few weeks of school together. We share both Algebra 1 and Honors Geometry as preps so those are the courses we focused on. Both courses had a major overhaul in curriculum this year (Which I hope to blog about at some point during Blaugust. I’ve been having a lot of feelings about teachers as curriculum writers.) so we needed to revise our pacing.

The problem we have run into with Algebra 1 is that we cannot make our way through the entire course in one year. When we mapped out our first unit it took twice as long as our district planning documents said it should. We refocused and tried to see where we could cut time and found nothing. Except maybe not teaching domain and range from graphs. As teachers we are given little autonomy in how we plan our courses and I understand the district’s point of view on this. There are three high schools in the district and they need to ensure that students are getting the same education no matter which school they attend. We are also a high poverty and typically low performing district so it is important to them that there are no reasons to disparage any one school in particular and try to maintain some consistency. But the reality is that our Algebra 1 students never make it to quadratics and barely make it to polynomials before the end of the year. And they definitely don’t make it there before the PARCC test.

But this is what we are stuck with – a curriculum that is seemingly impossible to teach in the time allotted. There must be something we are missing here. It cannot be impossible to teach this course in one year. What I am looking for are ideas from other Algebra 1 teachers.

  • How do you map out your course?
  • Where have you found topics that can be glossed over and which ones need to be taught in depth?
  • What time saving tricks do you have that make the most of your class time?
  • Or really anything that could be helpful.

Here are the learning targets that I created from our unit plans. Bold lines represent where I think a quiz would fit. I don’t think the targets are that outrageous in number or depth but maybe I’m wrong? I would be beyond grateful for any insight or guidance.



One thought on “Planning to fail?

  1. I can’t see the learning targets to comment specifically. One of the things I look at is whether there will be multiple opportunities to build in practice of certain concepts so I don’t have to worry about mastery and can spend less time on a concept knowing I will be able to reinforce in the next unit. For example, students learn about distributive property, but I know in the next unit they will be solving equations that involve distributive property so I can reinforce then. I’ve also been able to combine some units if you have any flexibility there.

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