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Configuration of 3rd grade..should it be departmentalized?

Cynthia Wright Principal CP Elementary

I'm an Elem. Principal of a rural school in AR. At this time we are departmentalized in grades 3 and 4 ..teacher team teach..one has Math and Science and the other has Literacy and Social Studies. Our State Math scores have improved but our Literacy scores are seeing very little growth. Much discussion has taken place that perhaps departmentalized is not the correct thing to do.

I have a secondary background...so I'm very undecided..need advice.

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Research

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Curriculum resource/staff

State standardized test

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State standardized test scores have just come out for our district; in our district, Grades K-4 are self-contained. The scores run the range of 100% proficient to 17% proficient in reading....the reading program is standardized (Mondo). Clearly the difference in scores isn't related to the configuration in this case but to what? Teacher quality? Student readiness? Administrative support? I think you might look into teacher preparedness/skill moreso than the structure of the learning environment - or - does a younger student need the closer connections that self contained classrooms create regardless of teacher expertise?

I would not want my child(or

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I would not want my child(or have a teacher in my building) to have a teacher who is not passionate about what they are teaching. Education is a vicious circle and everything keeps going round and round. Now we are on the old 60's and 70's trip of learning centers revamped as literacy centers. This to will pass and we will be on the whole language boat again. It is all because teachers are not the decision makers in districts. Teachers have no say and all of the teachers' rights have been taken away. Teachers are not supported by administrators with discipline issues and are told to handle it or get out of the profession. Charter schools are not the answer because they do not play by the same rules as the rest of us. If behavior becomes an issue, they kick the kid out and send them back to their zone school. What a crock.

Agreed!

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Agreed!

5th grade math teacher

I am totally for

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I am totally for departmentalization in 5th grade. Not every elementary teacher loves math enough to dig deep enough to unravel the mysteries of all the standard algorithms and explain "why" they work to students. It can be more "monkey see; monkey do" or this is the way I learned it, so this is how I teach it. Students will not understand math well enough in that environment to be successful (without struggle) in the years of math and science to come.
Here's a link to research about math in the elementary world from the Wall Street Journal. I found it very interesting as I am a 5th grade math teacher, and my students typically hit the wall they talk about with me! It used to make me feel bad, like I was too tough. No, I am doing what I should be doing, and I always question math. "Why?" Why do we have to do this that way? Why does that "mental math" or "trick" work? How would a student defend this strategy or answer in math terms?
I hope this is helpful and helps another 5th grade math teacher feel better. I am a great math teacher carrying a great load. (Might make some want to run; I thought about it; Might also explain why no one in my building wants my job)

Enjoy!
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1000142405270230375960457909323112...

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