Friday, November 9, 2012

All things Common Core

Hey Y'all!
Hooray for the weekend!
It's been a crazy week.  My sweet
third graders were so pumped the day after the elections. It was so hard for them to focus. It was quite interesting to overhear some of their conversations about the elections.  I think they might have been quoting things they overheard their parents say.  I then think , " Oh my goodness!  What stories are my own children sharing with their teacher?"   
Do you ever cringe about the stories from home that your own children might be telling their teacher?

I was able to attend an ELA Common Core workshop this past week.  I have been to several since January, and it's FINALLY all starting to fall into place for me.  I'm finally at the "AHAA" moment with all of this.  When I attended my first two day workshop last winter, I was so overwhelmed with information.  The "type a" personality in me wanted to do everything Common Core, and do it right then.  I also had no idea where to even begin.  We had been given so much information.  I've been taking baby steps since then, and it's slowly falling into place.

I wanted to share a few items and resources that I took away from this workshop.  I think they are very helpful in taking those baby steps towards the Common Core standards. Many of you may be at a different place with this, but if you are just beginning, I hope this is helpful to you.

1.  Have your students write in every subject area.  This can be a quick write about  a book they are reading, a concept being studied in science and social studies, and those interactive notebooks were brought up as great tools also.   One of the mid year assessments for the Common Core will be very heavy on students being able to write to explain ( this doesn't necessarily mean an essay).  My students keep an interactive math journal and a reader response journal.  Today I gave my students some ownership in what I should be looking for when I check their reading response journals.  They gave me fabulous suggestions and believe it or not, they were harder on themselves than I would have been.  After looking at their journals today, the responses are some of the best written I have seen yet. I mention this because it was brought up at our workshop to give student's ownership of their learning. 

2. It has been mentioned over and over at these workshops that a teacher needs to plan activities that engage all students.  Group activities in which students have to explore and have conversations about the activity are best.  The Common Core Standards are student centered ,and the teacher needs to step back and become the facilitator.  ( I don't know about the rest of you, but this has probably been the hardest for me to do.  BUT I must say I am LOVING it.  My students are working much harder, and my job is a little easier. ) 

3. Print the standards and keep them in a teaching binder. Begin to look at them and familiarize yourself with them as you plan instruction.  I also have the standards organized in a way that I can write down the dates in which those standards have been taught.  I found this  on TPT.

4. Allow for time for conversations about literacy and books with your students.  This is so meaningful.  I am so guilty of feeling as if we need to move on to the next subject rather than take the time to have those types of conversations with my students.  Make sure your library is filled with books from all genres and lots of nonfiction books.

5. Print out those "I Can" posters on the standards from TPT or create your own.  ( I was so excited when our presenter brought up Teachers Pay Teachers, and how there are some fabulous resources that teachers can purchase from this site.  This presenter showed Deana Jump's "I Can" posters that her district had purchased multiple licenses for.)  Show those " I Can" statements to the students when beginning a new concept and hang them in your room.  It's important to use the common core vocabulary with your students so that they become familiar with these words.

6.  The Common Core Standards are all about a deeper level of thinking that is required of students.  Students will not simply be regurgitating and memorizing information.  Activities need to be planned that challenge students to critically think and problem solve and allow for conversation amongst other students.  

7. It all begins with baby steps.  For many of us, these new standards will transform the way we have taught in the past.  There's no right or wrong way to begin with these baby steps.  I started the year with my teaching binder filled with the standards and "I Can" posters for my students to see and hear me use the vocabulary.  I have slowly began looking at my literature units as I teach them to align them to the Common Core and combine them into thematic units.  I no longer feel pressed to get through a basal reader nor go in order of the stories.  I have used a combination of nonfiction picture books, chapter books, and stories found in our basal reader to help teach the standards.    In math, my students are engaged in more problem solving and hands on activities.  They also keep an interactive math notebook.   I still have a long way to go, but these are the baby steps I have been taking toward the Common Core Standards.  It's been a fairly easy transition, and I LOVE the conversations I am hearing among the groups and the level of critical thinking and synthesis of information that I see.  I know we have a long way to go, but it's exciting to see the progress. The hardest part for me is how do I assign a grade to all of this.  As more and more schools get into the standards, I am anxious to see how the report card and assigning letter grades is going to evolve.

8.  Find time to collaborate.  Share creative ideas with your colleagues.  Continue to read the teaching blogs.  I absolutely LOVE all the fabulous ideas that I get from all of you.  This has helped me become such a better teacher.  The teaching blogs were also mentioned out our workshop.  :)

Okay... off the soapbox. Sorry!  Many of you may be in different places with the standards, but I just know how overwhelming it seemed when all of the information was presented to me.  It was hard to know where to begin.
I did want to share a few online resources that were shared.  You may already be familiar with many of them, but I'm always excited to find new resources.

1.  Teacher Channel- I had never heard of this until the workshop, but there are great video resources for teaching your students about main idea, inferences, and many other concepts.

2. Cool Tools from International Reading Association- List of fabulous technology links that can be used in the classroom. Scroll down the page a bit to find these links.  Very cool!
3.  Make your own story- This site allows students to choose a genre of story to create and choose key details.  The website creates a story based on the information the student chooses.
4. Course Mason- Great resource to refer your school district to.  This allows teachers to create/build their own units and choose the standards to go with each.  It's a great tool for curriculum mapping and it's FREE.  ( Our school district has been using this free site.)

Have an amazing weekend!  Thank you so much for stopping by.  I would love to hear your suggestions and ideas.    What would you think of a "Core linky party".  Teachers could link up with lesson ideas they have used to teach a core standard.  Would anyone link up?

1 comment:

Corinna said...

Wow, great post Krista! That is a lot of info. It sounds like your district is doing a great job preparing you. We started a few years back, but are fully imersed this year. There are some great resources and Common Core blogs out there with some great ideas. I think a linky would be helpful for sharing thoughts and ideas on the CC.

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