Tag Archives: Time To Know

Heaven, I’m in Heaven

The other day @mythagon asked me about my take on curriculum writing. I immediately thought, “Awesome! That’s one less blog post topic I have to come up with for #MTBoS30.” Not that coming up with blog post ideas has been that challenging so far, but seeing as this is only post 6 of 30, I may feel differently in a week or two.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking throughout the day of how to write about my take on curriculum writing. I think I’ll start by talking a bit generally about how I feel doing curriculum writing, but I have a feeling I might need to do some follow up posts to fully flesh out my thoughts. (Yay! More blog post ideas I can pull out of my pocket as needed.)

In general, I think curriculum writing is tons of fun. When I first started working at Time To Know, I often described my job as taking everything I did as a teacher, cutting out one small slice of the countless responsibilities I had, and then focusing on just that one slice all day, every day. That alone made it a dream job.

To put the cherry on top, my team at Time To Know loved to argue and debate about pedagogy. One thing that always bothered me as a teacher was that having a strong opinion about pedagogy (which I totally have) often resulted in hurting other people’s feelings more than it did fostering dialogue about how best to serve our students. Not so with my Time To Know team.

I remember the first unit we cracked together was about geometric transformations for 4th grade. (By the way, cracking is what we called unit planning. The goal of our initial planning was to “crack open” the topic to analyze it from different angles.) Over the course of a day and a half, we had numerous heated discussions about how to present the concepts, when to use off-computer activities vs. on-computer activities, what the ultimate goals of the unit should be, etc.

I kept thinking to myself, “I’m in heaven!” I could never have had such engaging, intense discussions with any of the teachers I worked with during my 8 years in the classroom. Well, my friends Paula and Courtney would have been up for it, but that’s about it.

If you stood outside the room listening, you would have thought that by the end of that cracking meeting my team would be ready to go its separate ways, but that wasn’t the case at all. We were all so passionate about developing these lessons that we argued and fought for what we thought was right, but we were also professional enough not to take it personally.

We understood that we were arguing so much because we all had the best interests of students in mind. Once the meeting was over, we walked out of the room, started talking about life outside of work and made dinner plans for that night. None of the tension from the meeting was carried out of the room into our personal relationships.

As a collaborative, pedagogical effort, curriculum writing is extremely satisfying to me. I’m a fairly introverted person in general. I love time to myself to decompress, and I love my husband for understanding that about me. However, there’s something about working collaboratively with a team that I click with that invigorates me so much. If I could find a team like that at a school, then I’d be in heaven yet again.



I started this post by writing about how I felt bad that I haven’t written on this blog in a while. Then I remembered that I hate posts like that. My blog is here anytime I need it, and with everything else going on in my life the past few months, I just didn’t need it that much.

Now I do.

And thanks to @sophgermain starting a 30 day blogging challenge, I got the motivation to get going again. I’m not sure if I’ll succeed at #MTBoS30, but the idea was motivating enough to get me blogging tonight.

One thing I’d like to blog more about over the next 30 days is the job I do. I’ve written a little bit about my job since starting this blog, but for various reasons I always tried to keep my MathTwitterBlogoSphere life separate from my curriculum development life. I’m not entirely sure why, but now I’d like to change that. I see a lot of teachers benefiting from reflecting on their teaching on a regular basis (sometimes daily!), and I hope that I can gain my own insights by reflecting more directly on my work. I also hope it can give a small window into the world of curriculum design for those who are unfamiliar.

So for anyone stumbling on my blog today: Hello! My name is Brian and I am a senior content developer at McGraw-Hill Education. I work on a team developing the t2k math curriculum. I’ve been with MHE for a year and some change, but I actually started working on this curriculum back in 2009 as an employee of a company called Time To Know.

Looking back over the past 5 years, it’s hard to believe that when I started this job, iPads didn’t even exist! The educational landscape has changed so much in such a short amount of time. I remember my last year in the classroom, our school was just getting SMART boards. I never got one in my classroom *frown*, but I was over the moon with my document camera. That thing was amazing!

The reason I mention iPads specifically is because back in 2009 our curriculum was developed in Flash, and that really shot us in the foot when tablets started flooding the market. Over the past couple of years, Time To Know has rebuilt their entire Digital Teaching Platform so that it works on multiple devices – quite an impressive feat.

Now that they have completed their big task, I have the daunting task of leading a team converting our entire grade 4 and 5 curriculum into this new system. It’s quite an undertaking, but at the same time, it’s like visiting an old friend. When I first started at Time To Know, the math team was about halfway through writing grade 4, and grade 5 was the first full year of curriculum I helped write.

In some ways it’s exciting to see these lessons again, and in other ways there’s that awkwardness of revisiting pedagogical decisions I made just as I was starting the job. While the lessons have gone through some upgrades since I first wrote them, I can’t help but think of ways I want to make them even better.