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Intellectual Challenge of Curriculum By Anthony Galardi Low Expectations = Low Achievement • It’s been proven that teachers often base their expectations of students on “race and class background” (Sleeter 127). • Black and Latino students are commonly seen as less teachable than White and Asian students. • This disparity in low expectations, results in boring instruction, and in return lower achievement for Black and Latino students. Low Expectations = Boring Instruction • Students respond to well to “an intellectually rich curriculum that is not structure around test preparation” (Sleeter 127). • Students of color often are subjected to curriculum based around test preparation. • Test preparation is boring and is not applicable to real-life issues. • Students tune out boring instruction and fail to learn even the basic skills. High Expectations = Higher Achievement • When students are challenged, they are more likely “to rise to the occasion” (Sleeter 129). • Teachers need to take into account the challenges students face and accept “that those challenges do not prevent learning and that a strong education will serve students” (Sleeter 128). • Our idea of high expectations is often measured up to that of “European [American] students’ normative performance” (Sleeter 128), which is still too low of a standard. • We must aim “higher than closing the gap” (Sleeter 128). Higher Expectations = Higher Order Thinking • Higher order thinking is essential for all citizens of our society, not just students that go to college. • Higher order thinking often results in higher- skilled jobs that pay more. • The challenges that upper level classes provide are more likely to breed success in for all students. How to Effectively Challenge All Students • Intensive writing instruction • Quick and consistent feedback • Authentic instruction that is tailored to the individual student • Integrating technology into curriculum • Provide students with opportunities to be creative and independent • When teaching toward standards, don’t over-stretch yourself. • Make a decision about what standards to focus on and what standards to skip (Sleeter 132). Examples of Challenging Curriculum – Juanita (2nd Grade Teacher) • Juanita expected more from her students than what was expected of them by the state standards. • Juanita focused her instruction primarily on publishing books. • Curriculum was rooted in using technology to create books on a variety of topics/genres. • Juanita provided students with explicit instructions on how to use computers until they were prepared to work independently. • Juanita empowered students by allowing them to teach each other, while she worked with students who needed one-on-one instruction. Enabling Strategies • Strategies that are used to help support students to think more complexly about certain topics or ideas. • Scaffolding is when you provide the student with just enough support and then gradually give them more responsibility and freedom. • Scaffolding is very effective when used to support students who are “writing on intellectually challenging topics” (Sleeter 141). • There are four stages of scaffolding for writing. Scaffolding • Stage 1 – support students to build knowledge of the topic. • Stage 2 – teacher talks about and models the writing process for the students. • Stage 3 – teacher and student write about the topic together and discuss students writing. • Stage 4 – student writes about specific topic independently. Love What You Do • In order to fully challenge your students you must be passionate about what you are teaching. • Before you begin a unit, make sure that you have fully examined and challenged yourself on the same topic. • Expect great things from your students and challenge them. The higher the branch, the higher they will reach. • Have fun and be authentic!
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