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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Big Picture Curriculum Day

Today was the assigned date for the Math Department’s Big Picture Curriculum Day, which meant a full-day workshop with no math classes. Although we were not thrilled about having to miss two consecutive days of math classes — especially troublesome for the AP teachers, with the exams coming up soon — it was an essential, useful, and successful event. The last time we took a step back and examined our entire 9–12 math curriculum was eight years ago, so it was time to meet again. Weston is one of a minority of schools in which each year is divided into four or five big units rather than a large number of small ones; this system encourages us to focus on depth over breadth, making it unlikely that we will fall into the “mile-wide but inch-deep” trap encouraged by the MCAS.

We reaffirmed our commitment to the four-big-units philosophy, but we are proposing quite a few changes. These changes will help bring us into the 21st Century, will improve the sequence of topics (include the reinforcement of skills), and will tighten up some of the bloat that inevitably infects any curriculum after two many years. (We teachers always want to add topics, but we never want to drop anything.) We’re following up the workshop with two additional days at the end of June; stay tuned for the outcome, since of course the devil is in the details.

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