Common Core State Standards Tidbits: Episode 1

I recently listened to a webinar provided by edWeb and Follett about the Common Core.  Common Core: High Impact Planning was an excellent, and highly informative webinar.  I have linked the recording so you can listen to it yourself, but I also wanted to give you the highlights in the form of my notes. Any educator will gain a great deal of information from this webinar, but it was specifically targeted to administration.

  • The goal of Common Core State Standards is College and Career Readiness.  The question we need to ask ourselves is “How can we reach ALL kids, and help them achieve the goal of CCSS?”
  • Common Core goals were set by companies, corporations, higher education, military, etc.

Students should be able to:

    • Understand concepts and new developments in science and technology
      • This is one of the most important new skills in light of our world that is data-driven!
    • Analyze and solve complex problems.
      • Real-world problems are complex, so we need to engage students in real-world complex problems to prepare them for life after high school.
    • Apply knowledge and skills to real-world settings.
    • Use critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills
      • We no longer have to memorize information.  We have access to all the world of knowledge at our fingertips.  Instead we have to focus on how to navigate through the world of information, think through it, and analyze it.
    • Effectively communicate orally and in writing.
      • Students must be prepared to communicate, and must practice often, especially in the use of electronic communications!

Being Prepared:

  • We need to begin to prepare our stakeholders for the change.  Test scores will go down, because CCSS have raised the bar.
  • We must “stretch” our students Lexile scores by 2-3 grade levels from what they are reading now.
    • Reading is a national security issue because 75% of our high school graduates cannot join the armed services because they cannot read well enough to pass the test!
    • There are a great deal of welding jobs currently available, but we cannot fill those jobs because we cannot find young people that can read the technical manuals required for the job training.
    • Students are leaving college early, and in considerable more debt because they are have to take remedial reading and math course to bring their skills up the level necessary.
    • Libraries will need to be reconfigured to provide students with the books they need to meet the new lexile requirements.

Lesson Design and the Common Core:

  • Recipe to align units and lessons with CCSS assessments
    • 2 Anchors (ELA Standards) or Practices (Mathematical Practices)
    • 3 – 5 Content Standards (this adds complexity)
    • 2 Questions: DOK 1 / Bloom’s 1-2
    • 2 Questions: DOK 2 / Bloom’s 3-4
    • 2 Questions: DOK 3 / Bloom’s 5-6
    • Write 1 (short write focused on comprehension or in math focused on fluency)
    •  Essay 2 (longer writing piece)
  • Only 86% of the standards will be tested

Content Areas:

  • Math
    • 7th & 8th Grade (these grades contain the critical skills necessary for students to move through high school and into college!)
    • All about fluency of basic math skills
    • Even the simplest math problems on the CCSS assessments will require a great deal of reading.  Students will be required to read multiple types of texts to solve one problem.
    • Performance Events will take approximately 2 – 2.5 hrs., will revolve around a real world problem, students will read, and analyze multiple types of texts to gather information to determine the type of problem that needs to be solved, what data is needed to solve the problem, and then actually solving the problem.  Students need to learn how to do all these things and PERSEVERE throughout the entire event!
  • ELA
    • Writing, Vocabulary, Argument
    • Student writing skills must be improved (this is critical!)
    • To expand vocabulary students need to read materials at a wide range of ability (low, medium and high)
    • Content needs to be presented in multiple formats (text, multimedia, video, real-world, literature and non-fiction)
    • School leaders should constantly have conversations about reading data!
      • Know the starting level of each student
      • Ask the questions:
        • What does the data say?
        • How are the students growing?
        • How do we know?
        • What are we doing about it?
        • Are students reading non-fiction in our libraries?
    • Connect lit studies to non-fiction
      • Example – A teacher loves to engage students in a lit study of Huckleberry Finn.  The students read about Huckleberry pies, they eat pie, they study Mark Twain, and read the novel Huckleberry Finn.  To engage the students in a more complex, more in-depth study, the teacher could have the students read a non-fiction work on the Mississippi River and learn of the changes that have taken place over time.  The students could then engage in a conversation as to how the story Huckleberry Finn might have changed because of the difference in the river system.
    • Students should be writing a lot and often (4 – 5 pages weekly for some grade levels)
      • Writing should be for an authentic audience
        • Traditional prompt: What did you do over the summer?
        • CCSS Style prompt: Write an paper (blog, wiki, etc) to convince me of where I should vacation next summer!
        • Use technology! Write on the computer, publish often!
        • Use a thesaurus (students need to consider word choice in written communication)
        • Follow the NAEP writing requirements

Overall this was an excellent webinar!  The next installment of this series Common Core & Back to School – Issues for the Upcoming Quarter is August 23rd at 1:00 pm central time.  If you can’t attend, no worries, they record the sessions 🙂

Jen Foster is an eMINTS Instructional Specialist and blogger. Check out her blog at eMINTS Classroom Strategies where she shares her thoughts on learning theories, teaching tips and strategies, practical classroom applications, and reflections on her journey to continue learning. This post was originally published on July 25, 2013.