Wednesday Weekly Wisdom #4: Light Speed Curriculum

Welcome to Weekly Wisdom Wednesday. Click here for background on what I mean, or read last week’s post here

 

Scene: your office

Characters present: you, and the entire TEALS curriculum for the year

You: “This does seem like a lot of material to cover”

The curriculum stares back, silent

“I mean, is a classroom really supposed to get through ALL of this?”

10 Units of AP, 6 units of Snap, and 8 units of Python offer you no answers

“Some of these lessons seem like they’ll take a long longer than they say too…”

The 70 some AP lessons offer you no consolation, nor do the similar number of intro ones.

“Maybe we can save time on the review days?”

The endless tomes offer not even a smirk at your obvious joke

“Ok. Deep breath. Maybe we can just move quickly so we can cover everything”

You can’t be sure, you might be hallucinating, but as the words came forth, the curriculum appeared to get even more daunting.

“HOW IS DOING ALL OF THIS POSSIBLE?”

The curriculum stares back, silent


 

Ok, ok, so it’s not that bad. But it’s an honest concern: the curriculum covers a lot of material, remote classes have to invest extra time into all of the technology setup overhead each class, and all of that technology means that your class will probably move at a slower pace. “I feel like we’re way behind in the curriculum” was a frequent topic for remote volunteers at last year’s meetups.

So, what’s to be done? The most important action is to be intentional about your choices. I’ve written previously about an entire semester my teaching team spent with this problem, and the issues it caused because we unintentionally made (or didn’t make) choices about classroom pacing.

To get practical, I can share what’s worked well for me in my Intro classes. First and foremost, slow it down! A mistake my team made in our first year was to try and cover the entire curriculum at the pace it dictates. What we should have done was go at the pace our classroom was dictating, which was quite a bit slower than what TEALS writes it as, and what many other schools are able to achieve. This is not only ok, it’s good! If you take the time to introduce a concept, make the choice to spend the time to ensure your students are comfortable with it.

Slowing down means cutting out lessons, which means you need to be conscious about what you cut, and how you adjust what’s left. If your students need more time on a project to benefit from it, can that time be unstructured work time? Do you need to define extra checkpoints and expectations? Can you take the project day-to-day, or do you need to set a hard deadline for moving on? For the project you cut, why did you choose those ones? What concepts will you be removing from your curriculum? Will you attempt to cover these in another way, or do they simply need to be dropped? The answers to these will vary for each project and each class, be sure to think about what’s right for yours.

I don’t have experience in how to deal with this in AP courses. Slowing down is a lot harder, since that test is coming in the spring, whether you’ve covered the material or not. I will be teaching one this year though, which means I need your help! Experienced AP remote teachers, you’re a small group, and I’d love to have every one of you that read this share your experiences in pacing the remote AP classroom.

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