photo of teacherNegotiating the Fifth Grade Math Curriculum:
Compliance and Revision

Mary Hurley , Redwood Heights Elementary School
Oakland, California


Where do I teach?

What are my students learning?

Teaching Practice
What is my approach?

Student Work






To view the videos on this site, you will need to download and install the following: QuickTime Player 6 or higher or Windows Media Player 9 or higher. Older versions of these players will not support the video media files on this site. You may also need Acrobat Reader (for PDF documents) and the Flash Player (for assorted other media files).

"Revision" Teaching the Curriculum Everyday Practices

Revision: Mary Hurley's concept of revision holds within it both reflection and learning: "I can't emphasize enough the whole idea of looking closely at your practice. Whether it's through some kind of teacher research group or a journal or with colleagues - every single time I have the opportunity to look closely at what I'm going my teaching always improves. By improvement, among other things, I mean my students actually doing better on outside assessments. Sometimes I go through periods of confusion and self doubt. By a reflective cycle or by a process of looking closely and deeply, I feel better about my work. Look closely. Look closely with someone. Talk about it. It's going to get better."

Pacing Guide: "The pacing guide is such a deadly thing for new teachers because it appears to be answering their dilemmas of 'Just tell me what to do.  There’s so much, just tell me what I do, then I’ll be a good teacher.' And the pacing guide erroneously sets up the belief that if you do this on this day, and this on this day, you’ll be a good teacher. But it doesn’t work that way. So I think it’s a false path to start particularly new teachers down. With it, constructing their own knowledge is a challenge. How do they construct their own understanding of how their kids are learning and how it’s connected to what they’re presenting if they're just checking off the day's requirement?  It’s not connected.  Yet the pacing guide is coming from a really well intentioned place of giving teachers some guidance. There are some 2000 pages to read if the teacher reads the whole curriculum. How do you choose? The pacing guide regulates that. It's intended to help teachers out, particularly teachers with little experience. And in districts where there is high student mobility, if they’re moving around they won’t miss a day of instruction. Of course just because they won’t miss a day of instruction doesn’t mean they’re learning anything, or that a teacher understands what’s going on. It's sad because the only conversation that goes on in the teachers’ room is not: 'Gee, I’m really having a hard time getting across this idea of fractions or negative numbers.'  Rather it’s: 'Where are you on the pacing guide?'  And the answer’s almost always 'I’m behind.'  This is discouraging, though it can be a good thing if it prompts teachers to ask what they can do about it, what action can be taken."