Your tip this week is a reminder of how important it is to keep up with the recommended pacing of the course. If it is week 6, and you are teaching in a traditional schedule, you are likely finished or nearly finished with the first two chapters of the book. Take a minute to note where you should be and if you are keeping up with the pacing suggested in the teacher’s edition pacing guide. Note any reasons you feel may explain why you are ahead or behind where you expected to be. If you are ahead, be sure you are not sacrificing the opportunity for students to explore the ideas deeply and completely, as well as building proficiency for some students. If you are behind, make sure you are clear about the philosophy of “mastery over time,” spaced practice, and implementing the curriculum as designed.
In your first year of teaching any new text it is best to maintain the pacing as intended while you familiarize yourself thoroughly with the scope and sequence of the material. If you feel students need more time with the lessons, focus on completing the core problems (listed in the teacher notes for each lesson), reserving the extensions and non-core problems for differentiation or interventions. Remember that supplementing lessons in order to push students to master a single concept before moving on is not recommended. Keep in mind that the homework assignments are specifically designed to provide opportunities for students to practice developing skills and that mastery of a topic is often not expected until two or three chapters beyond where it is first introduced. If, in spite of your best efforts, class time keeps getting away from you and you are not finishing a typical lesson during the time allotted, try using a timer. Chunk the classwork into pieces with expectations as to how much time is necessary for each piece. Have one student in each team keep track of time (a good job for the Task Manager) or project an online timer on the board for all to see. And be sure to reserve the last five minutes of class for closure.
Above all, resist the urge to skip the closure in order to save time. Make effective closure an essential part of every lesson. In fact, it is important to have closure even if students do not finish all of the problems.