Monday, June 23, 2014

Wondering about Wonders....

Okay, here's my first blog post (for my personal site, and I'm not counting the "About Me" page).  Anyways, to quickly repeat what's in my About Me page, I'm preparing to focus entirely on 4th grade ELA for next year, and using our newly adopted series, McGraw Hill Wonders.  Last year I moved back to 4th grade (looping with my amazing 3rd grade class).  I had taught 4th grade from 2000-2007, but last year was starting all over again with the switch to CCSS.  And this year it's starting all over again with a new series.  I'm not really complaining because I like change.  I try not complain in general, and I feel bad that my first blog post will highlight complaining, but here it goes...

This new series has me "Wondering about Wonders".  Our last day of school was a professional development day that was devoted almost entirely to learning about this new series.  Unfortunately, my day of "learning" wasn't quite informative.  Eager for the day, with notebook in hand, my notes did not even come close to filling up the first page (and it was a mini notebook!).

I'm more of a self-learning type anyways, so I took the materials and have been diving in since.  Here are my frustrations so far:

1.  Too many random pieces everywhere!  I love the fact that every resource they have is available digitally, but there is SO much it's overwhelming.  I'm a whole-to-part learner, and I feel like I've been given a 1,000 piece puzzle to put together, but they didn't give me the box so I know what it's supposed to look like.

2.  Common Core aligned????  Well, not really.  The weekly selection tests and weekly assessments (30 of each) only cover 7 of the 19 RL and RI standards, and only the L4 and L5 language standards.  For some reason, they do include some of the 3rd grade CCSS??? 

3.  The grammar portion of it follows the "old school" scope and sequence.  Units on sentences, nouns, verbs, adverbs, etc.  I don't have a problem reviewing, and spending SOME time going over good old fashioned adverbs.  But our standards only have relative adverbs, and this isn't even mentioned in the grammar handbook in the back of the students' text.  And this is just one example of poor alignment.  I did find a small reference on one page in the teacher manual about relative adverbs and pronouns, but nothing in the student text, and so far no materials in the plethora of online resources.

Now, to end on a positive note, I think I do like the themes, and literature I've seen so far.  So, I've got some work to do, but I'm up for the challenge.

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