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academic vs functional curriculum: students with s


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Joined: Nov 03, 2005
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Posted Mar 14, 2001 at 12:00:01 AM
Subject: academic vs functional curriculum: students with s

i'm teaching middle school, sped. students have sld, adhd. odd, sed, average intelligence. i'm also working on a MEd-SPED. i've read lots of research about "academics vs functional" and am involved in an integrated curriculum "creation" for our students. but i am more concerned with classroom teachers ideas.what do teachers, "who are in the trenches," think about 'academic vs functional curriculum,' or about an integrated curriculum with life skills, employment skills, social skills, in line with state content and performance standards? in your experience, do students that i've "labeled" above learn better when they learn by doing?

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Anonymous
Joined Aug 22, 2014
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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

I think all of us learn better by doing. I know that cogntive psychology or learning psychology tells us that our brains learn better by doing. Memories acquired through "doing" or experience are more easily retained by the brain that the memory of things just learned for a test by listening to lectures or taking notes from the board.As to academic vs. functional, what a great question to ask. So often as I went through school and now that I teach it, I see things being done that serve no purpose in life whatsoever. Things we do only in school that don't really apply to life in any way. I ask myself, what's the point? Is school just "filler"? Or should it have some connection to the lives our students will one day or are, in fact, living right now?I could go on too long in response to such a good question. I no longer will emphasize "school skills" in my classroom because I don't use school skills in life. I don't have to memorize anything in life, I have a Palm Pilot. I don't ever take notes on what I'm reading so the "Cornell System of Notetaking" is useless to me. I don't write 5 paragraph essays. I don't take notes on 3x5 cards and I am certainly expected to know enough to ask the person sitting next to me for the answer if I don't know it myself.I don't know why we're teaching any of that to any student much less students who have trouble learning it. We have a two-year long class in my school which takes our writing weak students and has them memorizing the definitions to obscure vocabularly words...as if that will help them. It neither helps them in school or in life and they don't remember those memorized definitions much past the test.We also have kids who don't know how to make a sandwich for themselves or what's really in the high-fat foods they eat. Some of our kids can't turn on a computer, do a search on-line, or even xerox a document yet all of those skills are valuable to have in life and in a job.If we don't teach them employment skills, who will? What does society pay tax dollars for if we are not teaching all our students employment skills? Do we assume that all children go to college and that colleges are teaching them "employment skills?" I think both those assumptions are mistaken. (I also think the standards movement is mistaken)If you're learning toward teaching any student more of a functional curriculum - a useful curriculum- offering them things that would prove useful to them in their future lives and maybe even right now - I think you're doing a great thing for your students, your school and your society.Good luck with it.i'm teaching middle school, sped. students have sld, adhd. odd, sed, average intelligence. i'm also working on a MEd-SPED. i've read lots of research about "academics vs functional" and am involved in an integrated curriculum "creation" for our students. but i am more concerned with classroom teachers ideas. what do teachers, "who are in the trenches," think about 'academic vs functional curriculum,' or about an integrated curriculum with life skills, employment skills, social skills, in line with state content and performance standards? in your experience, do students that i've "labeled" above learn better when they learn by doing? [Modified by Administrator on December 09, 2013 01:27 PM]
[Modified by: Administrator on December 09, 2013 01:31 PM]

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Anonymous
Joined Aug 22, 2014
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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

As to academic vs. functional, what a great question to ask. So often as I went through school and now that I teach it, I see things being done that serve no purpose in life whatsoever. Things we do only in school that don't really apply to life in any way. I ask myself, what's the point? Is school just "filler"? Or should it have some connection to the lives our students will one day or are, in fact, living right now? I could go on too long in response to such a good question. I no longer will emphasize "school skills" in my classroom because I don't use school skills in life. I don't have to memorize anything in life, I have a Palm Pilot. I don't ever take notes on what I'm reading so the "Cornell System of Notetaking" is useless to me. I don't write 5 paragraph essays. I don't take notes on 3x5 cards and I am certainly expected to know enough to ask the person sitting next to me for the answer if I don't know it myself. I don't know why we're teaching any of that to any student much less students who have trouble learning it. We have a two-year long class in my school which takes our writing weak students and has them memorizing the definitions to obscure vocabularly words...as if that will help them. It neither helps them in school or in life and they don't remember those memorized definitions much past the test. We also have kids who don't know how to make a sandwich for themselves or what's really in the high-fat foods they eat. Some of our kids can't turn on a computer, do a search on-line, or even xerox a document yet all of those skills are valuable to have in life and in a job. If we don't teach them employment skills, who will? What does society pay tax dollars for if we are not teaching all our students employment skills? Do we assume that all children go to college and that colleges are teaching them "employment skills?" I think both those assumptions are mistaken. (I also think the standards movement is mistaken) If you're learning toward teaching any student more of a functional curriculum - a useful curriculum- offering them things that would prove useful to them in their future lives and maybe even right now - I think you're doing a great thing for your students, your school and your society. Good luck with it. i'm teaching middle school, sped. students have sld, adhd. odd, sed,Sara,What grade do you teach? I do not disagree with you to a point, but isn't there a curriculum? Would you throw out dead foreign languages for example? What about history facts? Just a curious parent.
[Modified by Administrator on December 09, 2013 01:28 PM]
[Modified by: Administrator on December 09, 2013 01:32 PM]

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Anonymous
Joined Aug 22, 2014
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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

I teach middle school now. As to a curriculum, curriculum is often very ill-defined. Curriculum may say, "Students will become familiar with the concept of pre-history and early man " but not say how. It may specify a textbook to be used but not much more.I can teach pre-history and the topic of early man in many different ways and I could test their understanding of that topic in many different ways as well. Curriculum most often directs itself to the content of what should be taught rather than how it must be taught or how it must be tested. "School skills" are often found in how you teach and how you test, not the content of what you teach.When you ask about dead foreign languages, you're asking about what is taught. Not how it's taught or how it's tested. The same thing with history facts.I can teach history facts, as you call them, or dead foreign languagues, as you say, without the traditional and, as I see them, useless "school skills" and without traditional "school testing".I can teach history facts to a class without having them take notes on 3x5 cards. I can create learning experiences much more viable than the old (and now useless) task than gathering history facts on 3x5 cards. While students should certainly learn to write, can't that be done without looking up facts on 3 x 5 cards? Can't they learn to write without ever writing a 5 -paragraph essay? How many times in life have any of us ever been asked to write a 5 paragraph essay again after school was over?I can ask students to do a take-home exam rather than ever have the close the book and recite from memory history facts. That task is much closer to getting kids to do what the work world requires. The work world requires that many of us take work home at night, read it, comtemplate it, and write up a report on it for others to read. It requires that we review information and make recommendations and decisions based on the information we read. It requires that we present ourselves well to others. How do multiple choice tests teach us to present ourselves well to others or help us to learn to present what we know to others? How do they help us to work well with others?Rather than ask them when the Civil War was in a closed-book fill in the blank test, I can ask them to write up their understanding of what caused the Civil War something much closer to what they'll be doing in life. I could also ask them to do a power point presentation on the Civil War, a very viable life skill now. And one, by the way, that holds their attention and gets them excited about what they're learning rather than bore them like the 3 x 5 cards and the 5 paragraph essays do.Jobs require real skills. The skills of working together, sharing information, working on a team, brainstorming together. Not working in isolation from each other taking notes on 3 x 5 cards.If we want school to be real preparation for life, we need to change school. And for those kids for whom "school skills" come very hard, school is not just tortue, it's useless tortue. They should be taught the curriculum by encouraging life skills, not "school skills".The curriculum of our society's schools and the teaching of that curriculum should serve our society's needs. I don't see where in the modern world that any society needs any of us to write up facts on 3 x 5 cards.Sara,: What grade do you teach? I do not disagree with you to a point, but isn't there a curriculum? Would you throw out dead foreign languages for example? What about history facts? Just a curious parent.
[Modified by: Administrator on December 09, 2013 01:28 PM]
[Modified by: Administrator on December 09, 2013 01:33 PM]

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Anonymous
Joined Aug 22, 2014
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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

Your teaching style would be terrific. It would require the student to think instead of just remember. The only problem with that is how many other teachers think as you do. Until you can change the entire teaching hierarchy, the student who doesn't learn these skills will always end up at the bottom of the pile struggling to get where the others already are. The LD students have enough struggles already, I agree, but wouldn't the fact that not teaching them the "requisite" skills put them at a disadvantage?: I can teach pre-history and the topic of early man in many different ways and I could test their understanding of that topic in many different ways as well. Curriculum most often directs itself to the content of what should be taught rather than how it must be taught or how it must be tested. "School skills" are often found in how you teach and how you test, not the content of what you teach.: When you ask about dead foreign languages, you're asking about what is taught. Not how it's taught or how it's tested. The same thing with history facts.: I can teach history facts, as you call them, or dead foreign languagues, as you say, without the traditional and, as I see them, useless "school skills" and without traditional "school testing".: I can teach history facts to a class without having them take notes on 3x5 cards. I can create learning experiences much more viable than the old (and now useless) task than gathering history facts on 3x5 cards. While students should certainly learn to write, can't that be done without looking up facts on 3 x 5 cards? Can't they learn to write without ever writing a 5 -paragraph essay? How many times in life have any of us ever been asked to write a 5 paragraph essay again after school was over?: I can ask students to do a take-home exam rather than ever have the close the book and recite from memory history facts. That task is much closer to getting kids to do what the work world requires. The work world requires that many of us take work home at night, read it, comtemplate it, and write up a report on it for others to read. It requires that we review information and make recommendations and decisions based on the information we read. It requires that we present ourselves well to others. How do multiple choice tests teach us to present ourselves well to others or help us to learn to present what we know to others? How do they help us to work well with others?: Rather than ask them when the Civil War was in a closed-book fill in the blank test, I can ask them to write up their understanding of what caused the Civil War something much closer to what they'll be doing in life. I could also ask them to do a power point presentation on the Civil War, a very viable life skill now. And one, by the way, that holds their attention and gets them excited about what they're learning rather than bore them like the 3 x 5 cards and the 5 paragraph essays do.: Jobs require real skills. The skills of working together, sharing information, working on a team, brainstorming together. Not working in isolation from each other taking notes on 3 x 5 cards.: If we want school to be real preparation for life, we need to change school. And for those kids for whom "school skills" come very hard, school is not just tortue, it's useless tortue. They should be taught the curriculum by encouraging life skills, not "school skills".: The curriculum of our society's schools and the teaching of that curriculum should serve our society's needs. I don't see where in the modern world that any society needs any of us to write up facts on 3 x 5 cards.: Sara,
[Modified by: Administrator on December 09, 2013 01:29 PM]
[Modified by: Administrator on December 09, 2013 01:34 PM]

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Anonymous
Joined Aug 22, 2014
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I don't know. I, for example, did not know how to write a research paper when I went to college. I picked it up there.I also don't know that "teaching" the research paper, for example, to 5th graders really insures the skill anymore than if it isn't taught. So many young children forget so much unless it is constantly reinforced.Memorization based test taking comes as a shock whenever it is first introduced and proves stressful to many children no matter how often they see it or do it.I try in my classroom to introduce them to the practices they will find in other classrooms but I don't grade the results of my introduction. Grades make everything much more stressful. Having children take a "sample" memorization-based test in my classroom because they will "need" to do that in the following grade goes from an exercise of preparation to a stressful experience if I were to grade the test. So practices can be introduced, with much less harm, if we don't grade them.I was once taught that the existence of an inappropriate practice in a later grade does not excuse the practice in mine. Too many teachers say "I'm only doing this because Mrs. Smith will do this next year" but sometimes I think they "doth protest too much" and it's really a practice they buy into but won't admit to it.There have been of late increasing numbers of teachers who feel as I do. I went to an Ivy League school and I was routinely offered the option of a take-home exam. It was much more time consuming and the question much more complex but it allowed for much greater reflection as well as taking away the pressure and inanity of a "timed test."But yes there's room for more teachers to feel this way. Last week I had a 5th grader - new to Middle School say to me -"School is more about punishing children for not learning than it is for helping children to learn."When I look at many of the traditional practices of school, I sadly have to agree with him.Your teaching style would be terrific. It would require the student to think instead of just remember. The only problem with that is how many other teachers think as you do. Until you can change the entire teaching hierarchy, the student who doesn't learn these skills will always end up at the bottom of the pile struggling to get where the others already are. The LD students have enough struggles already, I agree, but wouldn't the fact that not teaching them the "requisite" skills put them at a disadvantage?
[Modified by: Administrator on December 09, 2013 01:30 PM]
[Modified by: Administrator on December 09, 2013 01:34 PM]

[Modified by: Administrator on December 09, 2013 01:35 PM]

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Anonymous
Joined Aug 22, 2014
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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

Yay for you and your approach.It takes a wise middle school special ed teacher to see that not all kids are going to benefit from a traditional academic progarm. Middle school is the time to start, not later.

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Dayna
Joined Dec 04, 2013
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Posted:Dec 04, 2013 8:47:38 PM

I feel the frustration on this page about what is the best for our students and how do we teach them what they NEED. We are required by law to do so many things for our students when we teamed with the parents know what the students need and what they should be learning to help them be successful in school and life. We have a job of educating them for so much more that a particular grade. A functional curriculum would be so much more effective and beneficial for our students that learning particular standards or facts outlined by our states. A student that will never move on to alternate academic settings will not need to write a 5 paragraph essay or recall facts of ancient China but will need to know basic money skills or environmental print. That is what they NEED. How to become the most productive 21st century citizens should be our curriculum for our special needs students based on their INDIVIDUAL needs.

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Ryan
Joined Dec 08, 2013
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Posted:Dec 08, 2013 7:57:44 PM

I teach a class of high school students with moderate intellectual disabilities. Of course, we do and are expected to teach academics. I think an integrated curriculum is effective. We incorporate all of our state standards into a unit that revolves around a book.

One piece of advice I can give is that many states have resources for our students on the department of education website. Specifically, there are lessons and ways to incorporate functional academics into an academic based curriculum.

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