(Click above for previous Saturday Sayings.)
We teachers are masters at shoehorning. When it comes to new curriculum, sometimes shoehorning seems like the only tool we have at our disposal. Unfortunately, it doesn't necessarily lead to the best teaching or the best learning. There's little time for little else than squirting. (Read here to learn more about this.) With the adoption of Common Core upon us, we certainly don't want to revert to the squirt method. Neither do we want or need to throw out and abandon all the practices we know are best for our kids.
So if something needs to go, what is it? That's not an easy question to answer. It's hard to let go, and don't we believe that everything in our classrooms is there for a very important reason?
"Sometimes I think that if we, as teachers, want to move on, we need to take carloads of curricula to the dump. It is only by cleaning out some old things that we can give time and space to new ones." Lucy Calkins, The Art of Teaching Writing 187
I don't believe all old things are worth cleaning out if they've stood the test of time as best for kids, although constantly being in a state of reflection on how those practices can be improved upon is essential. On the other hand, there are some old things that could be more efficiently taught in new and better ways. Take this little guy for example.
Remember the phonemic awareness/spelling worksheets filled with examples like this? Some teachers have had a hard time fitting writing workshop into their busy day, yet there's a block of time designated for sheets like the one above. It might not seem like there's room for writing workshop, but replacing activities about writing with an actual writing workshop, allows the students to practice their phonemic awareness and spelling skills in a much more practical and authentic way. Sometimes the new fits perfectly into our day simply by reflecting on how the old might be taught in a more efficient and meaningful way. The lack of shoehorning will give us, our kids, and the curriculum some room to breathe no doubt.