Friday, January 25, 2013

Ready or Not, Here We Come!

The "We" in the title statement represents the Common Core State Standards or CCSS for short.  For well over a year I have known the Common Core is coming, but my sense of urgency wasn't "tingling".  I, like others, internally would say to myself, "The Common Core doesn't officially begin until 2014-2015."  Or I would internally say, "As this movement gets closer the materials will be every where."  The fact is I didn't blow off getting prepared, but I also didn't prioritize this at the top of the list.  That is simply fact.  Now I look at timelines and I realize we can't (I can't) continue to put this off.  Here is the timeline that really gets me thinking:

2012-2013 Implement at least one Common Core Unit to be tested

2013-2014 Implement at least five Common Core Units

2013-2014 LAST YEAR of MEAP testing

This is my take, since we are finished with the MEAP next October, we are able to transition from GLCE's to the CCSS.  If you know me then you know I'm not a standardized testing enthusiast.  With that being said, I also believe in moving forward and getting our students ready for the next level and beyond.  

Shifting How We Teach

So what exactly must we do to shift to the CCSS?  Great question.  Check out these FACTS:

1)  The Standards are designed to build upon the most advanced current thinking about preparing all students for success in college and their careers.

2)  The Standards recognize that both content and skills are important.


3)  The Common Core State Standards create a staircase of increasing text complexity, so that students are expected to both develop their skills and apply them to more and more complex texts.


4)  The mathematical progressions presented in the common core are coherent and based on evidence.


5)  The common core state standards drafting process relied on teachers and standards experts from across the country.


6)  The best understanding of what works in the classroom comes from the teachers who are in them. That’s why these standards will establish what students need to learn, but they will not dictate how teachers should teach. Instead, schools and teachers will decide how best to help students reach the standards.


7)  The Standards are not a curriculum. They are a clear set of shared goals and expectations for what knowledge and skills will help our students succeed.


All of this sounds fine to me.  I'm very goal oriented and this is what I take from all of it.  The way things have always been done must now shift.  We must focus on skills of the future.  The days of memorization and recall are gone.  Technology has minimized the need for memorization.  The priority moving forward is problem solving.  We must create problem solving students, not repetition and recall.


How Do We Get Ready?

Everyone is different.  This is how I felt prepared, I for one read and re-read the GLCE's over and over while teaching 5th grade.  It also helped that I taught the content expectations for years.  This repetition made me feel very comfortable with the content.  The same is needed in shifting to the Common Core.  I have already started to read and re-read standards and claims.  Below are ideas to help you begin to prepare for the Common Core:

*  Download the Common Core App and complete your very own "crosswalk" between what you currently teach and what the CCSS expect.
*  Attend a CCSS workshop or training
*  Read blogs and articles on the CCSS to ready yourself.
*  Begin implementing more Units 
*  Talk to other educators and collaborate with them on how they are preparing
*  Ask questions, seek answers

Finally, it is very fair to admit we are all busy.  For quite some time I have put off diving in.  The teacher in me realizes you are in the trenches and you are doing everything you can to prepare students.  I believe all teachers are trying their best.  Some would say, "Yes, I should start preparing, but I'm just doing the best I can with this years group and the current expectations."  I completely understand this, my suggestion is to begin the shift now, the longer you wait the more it will feel like "cramming".  I think most of us know how that story ends.  If I can help, please let me.

How will you begin to prepare for the CCSS?

Next Week at a Glance:

Monday, January 28th:  Beginning of Second Semester
Tuesday, January 29th:  TEAM meeting
Wednesday, January 30th:  K-2 Assembly at 8:45am
Friday, February 1st:  Last Day of Spanish Rotation
Friday, February 1st:  4th graders singing National Anthem at home basketball game 6pm

iPad iNformation:


Common Core Elementary Apps created by teachers  shared by @KleinErin

6 Ways Students can Collaborate using the iPad  shared by @isteconnects

20 Apps to teach through play  shared by @mccoyderek




Articles Worth Your Time:


Q and A on preparing for the Common Core  shared by @Larryferlazzo

5 Technology Tools for the Common Core

12 Most Powerful Words Parents Should Use  shared by @teachingwithsoul

Health Benefits of Cold Weather?  shared by @MsRRReid

@ShutUpRun discusses Vertical Miles...AKA Hill Workout

Top 10 Skills needed in the year 2020



Videos Worth Your Time:

How much should homework count? (7 min) shared by @drjolly





Critical Thinking Part 1 (2 min)





Pics of Ellen! (4 min)



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