Before we begin a new novel, watch a movie or read an article on our favorite blog, most adults have already started tapping into a vast collection of knowledge about what they already know or think about…
This Fordham Institute publication—co-authored by President Chester E. Finn Jr. and VP Michael J. Petrilli—pushes folks to think about what comes next in the journey to common education standards and tests.
Help students uncover knowledgeInstead of teaching scripted curriculum defined by a textbook, consider putting your teaching skills and expertise to good use during the instructional planning phase by using essential questions to fuel the learning. Essential questions require students to construct knowledge and when combined with a flexible lesson design this type of learning can allow students to express learning in original ways. There is no room for answers that simply require copying and pasting, and worksheets become obsolete.
Via Mel Riddile
"I hope all of our students will gain the power inherent in being able to give a text a close read, by the time they leave high school. College is the place to ply the scholars’ trade and to develop a philosophical lens through which to interpret. Being close readers will give them a strong basis on which to gain access to these more sophisticated and expensive tools."
The Common Core State Standards provide an opportunity to realize systemic change and ensure that American students are held to the same high expectations in mathematics and literacy as their global peers — regardless of state or zip code.
The Smarter Balanced Practice Tests provide an early look at sets of assessment questions aligned to the Common Core for grades 3–8 and 11 in both English language arts/literacy and mathematics. The release of the Practice Tests follows the Smarter Balanced Pilot Test, the first large-scale tryout of items and performance tasks, conducted February – May 2013.
Thus, what “close reading” really means in practice is disciplined re-reading of inherently complex and worthy texts.
As Tim Shanahan puts it in his helpful blog entry, “Because challenging texts do not give up their meanings easily, it is essential that readers re-read such texts,” while noting that “not all texts are worth close reading.”
Language MagazineCutting to the Common Core: Changing the Playing FieldLanguage MagazineThe transition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) offers a window of opportunity to fortify what and how we teach.
"Teachers are not only expected to change what they teach but how they teach it. Students must have conceptual understanding and know how to apply the mathematics in addition to having procedural skill and fluency. Children will be expected to articulate their mathematical understandings orally and in writing."
"The standard tells you the outcome that must be accomplished, but not everything that a student may need to learn to reach the goal is specified. That's where the teacher comes in… what do we need to teach to accomplish these standards? That is up to us."
Despite its great promise, the Common Core is unlikely to be the "game changer" our policymakers hope it will be unless sensitive and skillful leadership is provided to shepherd the profound changes necessary. Undoubtedly, that leadership will have to come from principals who must take the lead in helping teachers and students meet the challenge of elevated expectations.
The challenge for principals goes far beyond managing building and personnel effectively.
In my own teaching practice, I felt that if I coaxed a non-reader to pick up a magazine or graphic novel or just about anything, I was succeeding. I tried to get them to fall in love with reading and learning by allowing them time to read whatever they wanted. I still believe offering such choices is important, but I have now come to understand that a balance is needed.