The next major curriculum adoption for Manteca Unified will allow teachers to tailor lesson plans for students of all skill levels in their classroom with relative ease allowing more time for one-on-one instruction.
The language arts adoption for kindergarten through 8th grade that is expected to cost $5 million is the first thorough blending of the Going Digital initiative with traditional books.
District Superintendent Jason Messer noted if a reading lesson is about dinosaurs, the digital portion of the adoption will allow teachers to adjust reading assignments so students with a stronger grasp of vocabulary and such will get a version of stories that are stepped up in difficulty while those with grade level skills or somewhat below grade level will be given versions that reflect their skills and appropriate challenges.
“That way if a class is learning about dinosaurs it will allow teachers to tune lessons according to students’ abilities,” Messer said.
That essentially keeps them on the same page with the difficulty in vocabulary setting them apart.
It will also allow teachers to monitor students doing homework remotely.
“They can circle something and note ‘check this’ in real time so students can go back and rework a problem,” Messer said.
Ideally, it would not only shift some of the time teachers spend grading papers to working with students to get the right answer, but it would enhance the dynamics of the classroom being a place to reinforce what students are learning doing their homework.
Messer stressed that there would be no capability for a teacher to peer into a student’s home. Instead it will operate in a manner similar to how tech support firms remotely access desk tops of clients’ computers to address problems. The process allows technicians to remotely operate on programs and such that are open on desk tops. It is no different than when you call or text Microsoft support for help and they get into your computer remotely.
Lesson plans would be digitalized allowing teachers to cut and paste. The adoption also includes digitalized instructions complete with video to help teachers fully understand how all components of the language arts curriculum work and can be used.
Typically it takes almost a week of training for teachers to become familiar with a new adoption. Messer said the adoption being looked at now could knock that down to a half a day plus provide teachers with an ongoing resource that is easier to reference.
The goal is to make teachers more efficient by making it easier to teach students of various skill levels.
While books are a part of the adoption, e-books and other digital components will be involved. That means if a class is short books on a certain level or if one is lost, it won’t mean a student will have to go without while orders are placed which can take a week or more. Instead, additional copies can be downloaded by clicking. Replacement of a lost physical book, in many cases, can cost almost $100 each.
Messer indicated at the end of the day Going Digital is simply a tool to be used by teachers to enhance leaning.
“Good instructors are essential,” Messer said.