Puzzling Together the Curriculum

Published by MrHonner on

To accommodate the different logistical consequences of potential in-person, hybrid, and fully-remote instruction, our school adopted a radically new schedule this year: Classes that meet every other day for periods that are 40% longer, but with an overall reduction of total class time.

The decision made sense from a organizational standpoint, but it made a mess of existing course maps and lessons plans. Trying to reorganize and redistribute content has been an ongoing challenge. It’s no simple thing to break up an existing course and reassemble it in different-sized chunks: You can’t just teach 40% more content because a class is 40% longer. Ideas needs to flow in a sensible way, and some in particular need time to set. Judging how to accomplish this was especially difficult at the start of the year, when it wasn’t even clear how much could be accomplished in a fully remote 55-minute class.

With three months behind me and a much better sense of what I’m doing, I’m feeling more comfortable putting the pieces together. Last week I was struggling to plan a 2-hour block in my trigonometry unit. But after some experimenting, I ended up pulling together material I side-stepped in October (special trigonometric limits), the core material I intended to cover (trigonometric integrals), and wrapped it up by laying the groundwork for some future extensions (Fourier series).

I would never have thought of putting these things together in a normal year. Nor would I have thought of this in September as I mapped out the semester. Back then I wasn’t even sure what would come of special trig limits as I side-stepped them, because it was impossible for me to look ahead.

But with nearly a semester under my belt, it made sense, and it worked. Three months on a steep learning curve can be painful, but it does make a difference.

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