It’s interesting that I’m choosing to start this conversation based on a book that I read a few months back and continue to revisit called Essentialism. This book was recommended by an exceptional colleague of mine, Boyd Weiger, as well as one of my favorite math leaders, Robert Kaplinksy (post here). By page five, author Greg McKeown shines light on the mantra that has begun to act as my personal mission: Less but better. When I run a personal audit on myself, it is glaringly clear that I have changes to make both in how I choose to spend the time that comprises my life and which priorities are king.
This notion applies as much to our curriculum in math as does to how I spend my own time. I’ve been lucky be a part of some difficult work in our district around setting priority standards using different lens such as longevity of skills for lifelong success and readiness for future achievement in course scope and sequence. For example, here is an somewhat dated list of the 10 standards we chose as the priority for our 8th grade students. Ten. Now I realize that those standards can unpack into various skills, but are we guilty of overdoing it? Are we making a problem that doesn’t need to exist? Take a look at how IXL unpacks Minnesota’s 8th grade math standards. By doing all of this unpacking (and typically testing) we are usually missing the opportunities to explore the concepts in an authentic way, play with their potential, and apply to areas relevant to kids. Below is a quote I’ve been sharing in every opportunity I have to present.
For my personal growth I have found this to be wholeheartedly true, and I didn’t have to pick up any new math skills to have extraordinarily powerful learning moments. Our units should involve hands on projects and certainly interdisciplinary connections foundational to a STEAM mindset. There are so many amazing PBL lessons and opportunities to integrate other disciplines like computer science and makerspace design that the kids deserve. In other words, what I’m trying to say is…
What about you? Are you already doing it? Please share your ideas, results, or opinion 🙂