For those of you who didn’t see my tweet earlier this week, I tweeted about visiting a friend of mine who is an English teacher, well, technically a 5th grade language arts teacher.
This is her first year teaching. So naturally, I asked her how stressed she was. She said “Not very, but that’s because I don’t have much to plan as much as I thought I would have to.” I asked her what she meant, and she said, “They gave me a scripted curriculum and scripted lesson plan book.”
I obviously asked to see it because, for as much as I have heard about these things, I had never actually seen one or been taught with one.
Maybe I am just super naïve, but I could not believe it was literally scripted. It was honestly like reading a play.
Teacher: “Okay students, now what is the prepositional phrase in this sentence? (Write “In the woods, there was a wolf” on the board.)
Student: “In the woods”
I guess I don’t know what I thought a “scripted” instruction really meant. I thought maybe like a bulleted list of things to cover? Like a really massive to-do list? I don’t know. But I wasn’t expecting a full blown book of “how it should go” skits.
There were lessons 1 – 60 in this teaching “guidebook”; every ten lessons, there was a test. There was also a worksheet book that went hand in hand with the lessons to give the students to reinforce the material being taught from the instructional guide.
In my tweet, I also said that there were pros and cons to seeing this script in front of me. I want to revise said tweet. I want to say there was “A” pro and lots of cons to seeing this script in front of me.
What is the one pro you ask? The minimized about of time spent planning your lesson. I mean the work is done for you right? Why am I even in college? Give it to any bum on the street that can read, and bam. You have a teacher.
But this is why this girl I went to visit is my friend and makes an excellent teacher. Despite the fact that she has a script to read from, she makes it her own. She speaks to the students in a conversational manner; not like a robot reading from a book. She DOES plan and adds more to her scripted lesson.
The biggest con was the lack of depth or breadth to the lesson. Talk about learning at a basic level….there was NO room for individual growth. It was strictly “teaching to the test” at its finest.
She said that even though the target of her lesson matches the one that the book requires, she makes sure she doesn’t shut down creativity and provides them with lots of freedom. She went and grabbed the worksheet book that is supposed to go along with each lesson in the instructional guide, and she says “I have never touched this thing. I don’t go and make copies of the lessons. I don’t want to grade them and the kids don’t want to do them.” High five, teacher lady.
This experience was followed by me reading Janet Allen’s “Potato Barrels, Animal Traps, Birth Control, and Unicorns.” The scripted instructional book had no teacher response for a student asking questions about the existence of unicorns or girls wondering how to avoid pregnancy. It didn’t have a teacher response for situations where students write about “thugging hard” or fighting people that “talk out the side of their necks.”
I seriously want so badly to have students ask me if they can research unicorns. Hell yeah you can, kid!
I guess I just can’t understand how anyone thought scripted instruction could be a good idea. Honestly, I am bit floored by the whole thing.
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