Sunday, February 17, 2008

Pacing Guides

We have a kindergarten Pacing Guide that guides a teacher with echoes across the day, giving suggestions for strings of mini-lessons in Read-aloud, Skills Block, Readers' Workshop, Writers' Workshop, Problem of the Day (Calendar Math), Math, and Science (see 3rd nine weeks Kindergarten Pacing Guide below). The Pacing Guide is meant to be just that - a guide to lay out, especially for new teachers, a suggested way to fit everything in during the year. However, we know that classes do not move at the same pace, so teachers have always had the descretion to tweak the Pacing Guide to meet the needs of their own class. If we tell teachers to look at the children's work today to write the lesson for tomorrow, then we have to give them the profession freedom to do that.That is what recently happened in our classroom. As the class is beginning an Author Study of Eric Carle, the teachers have decided to skip and not to do Authors as Mentors in the Writers' Workshop as is suggested in the Pacing Guide. They will pick up the skills in that book in 1st and 2nd grade as the curriculum spirals. This book really depends on author's craft. As the teachers looked at the author's craft in the Eric Carle series of books they decided that this group of books fit better with a study that we read and worked with last year, "Pattern Books" from First Grade Writers by Stephanie Parsons. As Kindergarten and first grade teachers worked through that book last year we decided that the chapter on pattern books could be taught in Kindergarten, but we had a hard time deciding where we could fit it in. This group of teachers think they have found the right fit! So... they will try to meld the Eric Carle Author Study in Readers' Workshop with a study of pattern books in Writer's Workshop.  At the end of this year, all of the kindergarten teachers will get together and discuss their strengths and challenges this year as they write a new and improved Pacing Guide for next year's teachers.

The important thing here is that we trust teachers as professionals, not to turn the pages straight through a Teacher's Manual, but to think deeply about their curriculum, to make informed decision to drive their instruction, to look at the students' work to assess the next step and to reflect as those decisions are to made. That's what real teaching is all about!

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

Great post that reminds us all of the importance of pacing guides and the fact that it is only a guide. How exciting that this group has decided to stretch their kindergarteners and try pattern books. Hope you'll post a few. Can't wait to see how it all turns out.