Liven up your math class with a quick Annotated Task. Available for every grade, these mathematic tasks exemplify the focus, coherence, and rigor of the Standards. For more Common Core-aligned tasks and lesson ideas, check out Illustrative Mathematics.
Explore the ELA/Literacy Bank. Here you will find a library of hundreds of free, teacher-developed Common Core-aligned lessons to use alongside the popular stories, nonfiction texts, basal readers, and anthologies you’re already using in your classroom.
Achievethecore.org materials are all free and designed for you to download and adapt to meet the needs of your students.
While leading a training in Alaska this weekend, a participant mentioned The Smithsonian Tween (& Teen) Tribune. This free resource is a great place to grab informational and nonfiction texts written at various Lexile levels to support a wide range of reading abilities.
Last week I dinged that video for claiming that close reading is a teaching technique (it's an approach to reading). I was critical of the idea that close reading helps students “conquer complex text,” if that includes language complexity as measured by Lexiles. I didn’t like the idea of reading the book to the kids; I’m a fan of reading texts to kids (see recent NewYork Times article on this), but not the texts the kids are supposed to be reading. Finally, I didn’t like how rereading was being approached. Here is the rest of my thinking about this lesson. Hope it’s useful to you.
Not all educational apps are created equal. Some are more fun than others. Some are more pedagogically sound than others. And some are better for certain age groups than others.
In the App Store, it is difficult to find out which apps are best for a particular age group, like, say, middle school students. Fortunately, technologists like South Carolina math and engineering teacher Chris Beyerle actively curate collections of apps. Here is his collection of math apps that are appropriate for middle school students. They all fit within the Common Core Standards of Mathematical Practices as well.
There is, of course, an irony in this. Even though we were very diligent about not involving the federal government in the development of the standards, and even though we warned the federal government against doing anything that might imply federal government pressure to adopt them, the federal government still, in the Race to the Top program, created very strong incentives for the states to adopt the Common Core, and that has turned out to be enough to turn the Common Core into a political football.
“About 70 percent of the high school graduates who enter our colleges across the state aren’t prepared for college-level work. These students must complete additional remedial studies before they can begin earning college credit, so they are much less likely to graduate from college or complete their education goals.”
“It’s not because students can’t learn or teachers aren’t effective. The problem is our expectations have been too low. Setting a higher bar for children in elementary and secondary school will ultimately result in better prepared high school graduates.
“We’re already seeing improvements from the education standards put in place four years ago. Tennessee is the fastest improving state in the nation on the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress. Tennessee has also made dramatic improvements in student ACT test scores. It all starts with high standards.
“When Tennessee’s higher standards were put in place, educators from our state helped develop the standards and assessments that would appropriately gauge readiness for college and career. We opted in on higher standards because it was a process Tennesseans could influence and we could ultimately compare our progress with other states.”
I am a supporter of the Common Core State Standards, which we have adopted as our own state standards and are taught in classrooms across the state. I am ill at the thought that these standards could be repealed.
A teacher friend asked me this weekend if I had started planning for next semester, which totally interrupted my fantasy of being a woman of leisure. Truth be told, though, January 5th is fast approaching. The teenagers will expect me to be well rested and prepared for our second semester adventures in learning.
It’s a good thing that I, like most teachers, never really stop planning. Every conversation, book reading, TV binge watching session has the potential to yield seeds for a great lesson. Even in vacation mode, my mind is busy filing away ideas and information to bring back to my classroom.
Take for instance my current obsession with the NPR podcast, Serial(link is external).
Here’s a very generic synopsis: Serial is twelve part series from the creators of This American Life. Each 40-45 minute episode digs into what host Sarah Koenig feels is unresolved information about the trial of Adnan Syed. Syed, who was convicted of the first-degree murder of ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 2000, is currently serving a life sentence in a correctional facility in Maryland
If our fellow Republicans move to embrace standards that are even higher than Common Core, they'd better have a realistic plan for putting them in place. Otherwise, such calls will be viewed as political posturing and pandering at the expense of our children. Unfortunately, states that have thus far attempted this effort — replacing Common Core with something even stronger — have found that it is quite difficult to achieve.
Starting from scratch, on the other hand, pulls the rug out from under educators who have spent almost five years implementing Common Core in their classrooms. "You just get frustrated and tired with trying to appease people who really have no idea what's going on with you day to day," one kindergarten teacher told Mississippi's Clarion-Ledger. "It's just really mind-blowing that this is something they're considering doing at this point." Teachers are all too familiar with the fad du jour.
Policymakers promised them that Common Core would be different, that it would have staying power. Teachers are right to be angry at those broken promises, especially because so much of the backlash to Common Core has little to do with the standards themselves.
So raise standards beyond Common Core? Sure — but you'd better make sure it's not all talk and no action.
Deb Gardner's insight:
Go ahead, make my day - raise standards above Common Core but make sure it's not all talk. Let's see some action, and can we do away with the political posturing?
Critical thinking requires a special set of questions that have the ability to activate higher order thinking skills and therefore enable students to evaluate, synthesize, apply, analyze and interpret information. These questions are usually open in nature and tend to foster divergent thinking. Prince George’s County provides a very good explanation of each of these kinds of questions with examples of each category.
However, there are many ways to work within the constraints of the Common Core standards and still foster creativity in your classroom. The key can be summed up in one, Common Core-friendly term: synthesis, or combining ideas from multiple sources and creating a new theory or system of ideas. Let’s take a look at some ways that working with your students on synthesizing can promote creativity in your English class.
Game-based learning is a topic we have revisited numerous times on EmergingEdTech. The implications it has on student engagement and learning are powerful and cannot be overstated. If you have not already experimented with game-based learning with your class, make 2015 the year you do!
Deb Gardner's insight:
I haven't personally given this a test drive yet, but apparently several teachers and students like it!
But something remarkable happened last spring. The close-knit school located across from a potato field in Wyoming County was one of a dozen in the state to go from floundering on state tests in 2012 to scoring better than most on the more difficult exams administered in 2014. They did it, in part, by ignoring Albany and the dictates of the state education department.
“The Core also seeks to ensure that students graduating from high school are consistently prepared to enter two- and four-year colleges. What’s important to note is that states and school districts are on their own in designing curriculum to meet these standards. The standards establish what students need to learn but do not dictate how teachers should teach. Schools and teachers are to decide how best to help students meet set goals.”
“The goal is to build knowledge through content-rich materials that will enable students to answer verbally or in writing questions calling for careful analysis, resulting in well-defended claims and clear information. The focus on real-world application is the same in math.
“The Common Core gives our schools an opportunity to improve and to become more of a results-oriented system.”
“Why did we raise the standards for our teachers and students? Simply put, existing standards — in Hawaii and across the U.S. — were no longer preparing students for the requirements of college or the workforce.
“For example, more than one-third of our public school graduates enroll in remedial college math or English at the University of Hawaii.
Nationally, the picture is not any better. More than half of graduates entering two-year colleges face remediation, according to data from 33 states analyzed by a 2012 Complete College America report.”
Yes, we should teach reading comprehension strategies, even to good readers. But we should do so in an environment that emphasizes the value of knowledge and understanding, and that requires students to confront genuine intellectual challenges. Those disciplinary literacy strategies touted in my last entry seem to have motivation built in: trying to connect the graphics and the prose in science to figure out how a process works; or judging the veracity of multiple documents in history; or determining which protagonist an author is most sympathetic to in literature tend to be more purposeful and intellectually engaging than turning headers into questions or summarizing the author’s message.
ReadWorks is a free service that I have been recommending for about a year now. It provides teachers with hundreds of lesson plans and more than two thousand reading non-fiction and fiction passages aligned to Common Core standards. Recently, ReadWorks expanded again. The latest expansion includes poems and question sets. The collection is organized by grade level. In the collection you will find poems by Frost, Dickinson, Stevenson, and other notable poets.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is included in the application to students with disabilities section of the CCSS. Although this reference to UDL may give the impression that UDL is just for students with disabilities, all students can benefit from applying UDL to curriculum design and instructional practice.
The CCSS can be considered the "What" in education, i.e., the goals and expectations. It is the destination we wish our students to reach. In light of that, UDL can be considered the "How" in education, i.e., the curriculum and instructional framework teachers use to plan their lessons. In other words, UDL and the CCSS are complementary: the UDL framework provides educators with the means to maximize student attainment of the CCSS.
NEW YORK – Every Saturday morning at 10 a.m., Jason Zimba begins a math tutoring session for his two young daughters with the same ritual. His youngest, Claire, 4, draws on a worksheet while his oldest, Abigail, 7, pulls math problems written on strips of paper out of an old Kleenex box, decorated like a piggy bank with a pink snout on one end and a curly-cue tail on the other, and adds the numbers as fast as she can. If she gets the answer “lickety-split,” as her dad says, she can check them off. If she doesn’t, the problem goes back in the box, to try the following week.
Linda Gojak is tired of hearing adults and children alike lament, “I’m just not good at math.” She wants to put an end to teaching through rote understanding and memorized rules.
Gojak — who has four decades of experience as a classroom teacher, mathematics professor, and national education leader promoting quality math instruction — believes the new Common Core State Standards will awaken a rich appreciation for the subject among the most math-averse students.