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Traditional Teaching & Current Practices of Mathematics & Science

Reflecting on the message from the State Board of Education and State Superintendent of Public Instruction” it was in 1983 the report “A Nation at Risk, by the National Commission on Excellence in Education had brought to light “a rising tide of mediocrity” in the schools (Larson, 1997). This was when an era of education reform began. Larsen described the results of this reform was uneven, but it did stimulated some key infrastructure improvements: instructional time was increased, high school diplomas came to mean the completion of minimum course requirements, and emphasis was placed on local planning efforts to improve the schools’ efficiency and effectiveness. This reform caused the awareness and need to get back to the basics with our students, such as requiring a strong foundation in basic skills. Although some may not agree that technology did not replace the need for all students to learn and master basic mathematics skills, but they must be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide easily with the use of calculators or other electronic tools. Many researchers, as well as and writers agreed that all students need direct work and practice with concepts and skills fundamental to the meticulous content described in the Mathematics Content for California Public Schools. Therefore, the development of quantitative concepts and relationships, where technology was not used a substitute for them, but used to build on these skills and understandings.

The public school system standards have been organized in sets under broad concepts (Science Content Standards). The intention was to help the reader move between topics and follow them as the content methodically augments in deepness, and increases the complexity through the grade levels. Reviewing the elementary and middle school standards has offers the initial skills and knowledge for students to learn core concepts, principles, and theories of science at the high school level. While reading the standards they are organized in sets under broad concepts. The Department of Education intentional wanted to help the person who reads them to move between topics and follow them as the content analytically increases in intensity, span, and difficulty through the grade levels.

Overall, it appears that the standards-based education upholds California’s tradition of respect for local control of schools, while at the same time serving students. There appears to be the requirement to help students increase their achievement of higher levels, while letting the local educators strive for the full support and cooperation of families, businesses, and community partners that have taken these standards and designed the specific programs and instructional strategies that best deliver the content to their students. Thus, these efforts have been highly regarded.

After the reform movement’s teachers have been greatly impacted by approaching their lessons and striving to become more organized year round. The supporting evidence on this very point of view is from Gallagher whom presented in an article, “Planning a unit of instruction.” This article outlined a twelve-step approach on how to keep teachers organized all year long and enrich their lessons. While, Gallagher’s steps included selecting a topic, establishing a purpose, and writing unit goals, the planning of a unit of instruction expressed how some teachers would feel overwhelmed with this task. Make life a little easier on yourself with this simple 12-step approach that is not only logical, but it will keep you - and your unit organized. I've also seen terrific results when I've presented these steps to new teachers who are learning how to develop curriculum that includes all of the essential lessons, activities and evaluations.

In conclusion as a wonderful, resourceful tool from Gallegher is the overview on how to plan a unit of instruction (Gallagher, J. 2001).

Here's how to get started:

Select a Topic. Choose one that isn't too broad. These questions can help you make your decision:
1. What must I teach to fulfill state, district and local standards?
2. What do students at my grade already know? What do they need to know?
3. What are my students' interests?
4. What materials do I have that need to be organized into a unit?
5. What unit topics will be accepted or might be rejected by the school community?

Establish a Purpose. Ask yourself why are you teaching this particular unit. What do you want it to provide for your students? Your answer should always be something more than, "I'm required to teach this." Prior to beginning your unit, decide what your answer will be when a student asks, "Why do we have to learn this stuff?" Consider an answer that tells them that knowing this "stuff" will:
1. Give you background for something else that you will learn later.
2. Give you the opportunity to explore something you have not learned before.
3. Give you important skills that you need in life: communication and language skills
citizenship skills
survival skills (filling out applications, reading contracts, making wise purchases)
decision-making, problem-solving and thinking skills
physical skills
social skills such as: cooperation, compromise, getting along)

The traditional practices of teaching truly reflected on how the efforts on how the Department of Education had in the past with the sciences had neglected to consider images of how science was vastly different from that of this current time and reflecting how it was taught to the students then compared today. DeHart stated, “Science and technology as a whole have become an integral part of our economic, social, and political life” and this was evident upon researchers and policy changes. Thus, this judgment developed from “an assessment of factors that have emerged over time as essential for guiding decisions about the pathways for achieving desired educational objectives. In other words, policy represents a sense of purpose” (DeHart).

Overall, our system has a more work ahead of them and we must continuing improve and engage our students in the content with purposeful interaction, while creating conductive environments that provide respectful and rigorous learning opportunities (Martin, Franklin, Gerlovich). These are a few teaching and learning techniques, but we must incorporate the features of science that provides a wholesome, productive and learning experience for developing the children’s attitudes, development of their thinking and kinesthetic skills, and developing knowledge that is constructed from experiences in a natural settings.

References

http://www.education-world.com/standards (http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/). Larson, Y. & Eastin, D. Retrieved 4/13/09. Mathematics Content Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve.
California Department of Education. Mathematics Content Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Sacramento, CA 1999
http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/sciencestnd.doc. Science Content Standards. Adopted by the CA Department of Education. 1998
Gallagher, J. (2001, August). Planning a unit of instruction. Teaching Pre K - 8, 32(1), 88-89. Retrieved April 13, 2009, from Research Library database. (Document ID: 77408580).
DeHart Hurd, P. (2000). Science education for the 21st century. School Science and Mathematics, 100(6), 282-288. Retrieved April 13, 2009, from Research Library database. (Document ID: 62919931).
Martin, R., Franklin, T., Gerlovich J. Teaching Science for All Children: An Inquire Approach, 4th Pearson Education, Inc. 2005