The Layered On Effect

Maybe this post needs a subtitle: Right hand, please call the left hand!

Yesterday my colleagues and I spent the day in training for a new program being used in third and fourth grade – Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading. From what I can see, the program has many merits. And of course, there’s the little matter of students and science instruction.

For many years – I’m going to say 8 or 9 now – our elementary schools have been without a science specialist to help guide teachers and students in teaching science.Those positions were eliminated during budget cutting – along with library and computer specialists in the latest round of fiscal roulette. With state standardized testing in Middle School showing our kids’ science test scores in the toilet (can we all say a big DUH here?), there is a renewed interest in teaching science in the late elementary grades.

All good, right?

Here’s the challenge. There is no time in the day to implement this program unless we are allowed to give something up – isn’t that always the way? 90 minutes of reading instruction + 90 minutes of mathematics instruction + 60 minutes of writing workshop and don’t forget breakfast, lunch, recess, specials and Morning Meeting. Where will new hour for science come from?f

I can see a couple of options – but for every option tossed on the table for discussion, there is an alternate roadblock. If we take time from math or reading instruction or writing instruction, our students will most likely lose some of the gains we have made. The new program is developed in such a way that I don’t believe it will fit into the structure of Daily Five – something I’m committed to philosophically AND pedagogically.

Will this program become just another layer of stuff we are required to do? I hope not. What I do know is that I can’t cram another hour into a school day without something giving.

Hopefully it won’t be my sanity that gives.