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4 posts from July 2012

Mark Gardner | Assessment, Current Affairs, Education Policy, Life in the Classroom, Literacy, Professional Development, Teacher Leadership | July 30, 2012

Realigning to Common Core

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File7011343695826By Mark

This summer, I've been participating in a book study about challenges in implementing Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts. In that spirit, I sat down today to look at my scope and sequence for the classes I teach (Freshman English Lit and Comp). All along I've been saying to myself and others that this whole Common Core Standards shifting is no big deal: we're already doing that work, it's just a matter of identifying in those standards all the things we already do--we won't really have to do much that is "new."

As it turns out, this whole process really made me rethink what I teach and how I teach. I found that there were many standards which were addressed, reinforced, and assessed in basically every single unit of the sequence. I also found a few standards which never appeared more than once, buried as a footnote in some broader unit. More concerning: some of the projects and assessments that I and my students enjoy the most were supported by only tenuous connections (at best) to the standards. 

This coming school year, I anticipate that many of my posts will reflect my process with the Common Core. Interestingly, when I try to characterize my feelings, the first word that pops into my head (however irrational this may be) is the word mourning. Some of those projects that kids seem to connect with so well lack strong connection to Common Core, even if they are the tasks that former students still recall to me ten years later. No matter how much I, or they, love the experience, these are the things I really need to examine and honestly assess whether they belong in my classroom under my new expectations.

As I try to help other teachers make this transition to the new standards, I need to remember that word that popped into my head. As I encounter resistance, I need to remember that isn't just about being "opposed to change." I need to remember that the first reaction when you are told to do something new might not actually be a reaction to that which is new, but rather a quick and confusing pang of loss for something deeply enjoyed that no longer seems to fit. 

Tom | | July 25, 2012

Teaching And Dentistry

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AppleBy Tom

Last summer I was part of a panel discussion with several other teachers. As it was winding down, the moderator asked us one final question. “What would you say is the most important factor impacting student learning?” Each panelist said something about class size, funding, standards, blah, blah, blah.

I got to go last. “The most important factor, as far as I’m concerned,” I said, “Is the extent to which we as teachers are able to work effectively with our students’ families.”

I still think that’s true.

Kristin | | July 18, 2012

Standards Based Grading

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PegBy Kristin

My school, a middle school, has been implementing standards-based grading.  It's a big deal for us, but elementary schools have been doing this for years. That means that when parents see an A on the report card, they can assume their child has met and is exceeding grade-level standards in that content area, even if he was the most disruptive child in the class and one who rarely did homework.  The standards we're using are the Common Core standards, and we've moved to consistency within grade level content areas.  

This transition means we've had to move away from things like marking down for late work, averaging a quiz's grade with a retake, or offering extra credit. 

There has been much respectful compromising.

Mark Gardner | | July 2, 2012

"Higher" Standards Are Not The Answer

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By Mark

It is wonderful when businesses offer ways to support effective teaching. People can speculate about the advancement of agendas, but anything that can offer opportunities to help teachers hone their craft and thus increase student achievment is a good thing.

I'm sure you've seen these commercials from Exxon Mobil about supporting science and math education:

 

Let's solve this: I like that. However, one piece of rhetoric is more troubling: "Let's raise academic standards across the nation" (00:15).

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