Where to start.
I have been thinking and working with the Exeter materials quite a bit in the last 3 months. I have come to see the value in the methods and the questions, and the way the questions cycle from lower levels to higher levels.
But I have to say I don’t see the Exeter curriculum as a magic bullet. It isn’t. There is no such thing as a magic bullet for math education. There is a lot of hard work. There are a lot of relationships to build with learners. There are many hours to put into lessons that engage learners to think deeper about the mathematical issues.
The Exeter Curriculum is a part of this process, not the end of this process. It is not something that will solve any problems. It is however, something that will help me, as a math teacher trying to improve my classroom, to engage learners, to develop deeper thinking, and to push the high standards of the Common Core into classrooms.
I am not confident of the efforts offered by the textbook publishers. Here are two examples of why:
If the CCSS is going to actually impact the classroom in a positive manner, we can’t take the same ol’ same ol’ materials and just slap on a new label. We need to structurally change and improve what we are doing.
That is where the Exeter Curriculum can come into play and help, and it creates the next problem I, as a public school teacher have. And this goes back to the first post I made, Exeter we have a problem. I had flashbacks of Apollo 13 as I wrote it because it is relevant. As the quote goes, “Houston, we have a problem” and the problem was absolutely centered in that little capsule. The experts who developed the program were on the ground and could go home safe and sound at the end of the day, but those astronauts needed to step out of their comfort zone and do something above and beyond.
As a public school teacher, I am in the same capsule. Our comfort zone has been stripped away and completely new standards pushed on us. We need to step up, or step out. It really does come down to that. The old guard who doesn’t want to change will be forced out through the new “evaluation” procedures that also have been forced down our throats by people who have no clue about education.
Okay, so the stage is set. Nothing I wrote above will change. Stop complaining. What the heck am I going to do about it.
The Plan (or WCWDWT):
As part of our evaluation process I had to create a Professional Growth Plan. The plan I proposed and was approved was to take the Math 1 Exeter Curriculum and align it with the Common Core State Standards as well as simultaneously give the problems keywords and strands.
In addition, I have spoken with the two very nice and enthusiastic gentlemen from OpusMath.com who have the technical background to take the entire project, upload it to their website, and host the problem sets, alignment, stranding, keywords, AND make it all searchable, selectable and downloadable for FREE (and that is free as in air).
What Can We Do With This? We can create a database of problems that are rich. We can create a database of problems aligned to the CCSS that are searchable, selectable and downloadable for use in the classroom by math teachers around the world.
What can we do with it then? That hasn’t been explored. We have to create the foundation before we can build the building. I have spoken with someone at Exeter and they are interested in the project. Of course, they can not help much. It isn’t their burden to take on, it is ours (and now mine!).
I have another teacher at my school who has agreed to take on this with me. She is absolutely crazy to do so, which means I am completely insane.