Saturday, February 2, 2013

Day 33 Common Core Saves the Day!

Today's post is not really about an actual teacher blog.  This one is a link to some Common Core 'blogs' that are a helping teachers and probably some administrators keep up with the dialog about Common Core.

The district I have been working in has been very tied to the adopted curriculum for many, many years.  Fidelity is the word that came up all the time.  Now that would be awesome if the developers of the curriculum we are using were actually people who taught in classrooms.

But there have been holes in the curriculum and children who have been falling in these holes.   It's a bummer that these developers haven't sat in a 1st grade classroom and haven't sat and watched the eyes of a 1st grader haze over as you read the scripted language they have provided in the teacher's manual.

The kids look at you and think and sometimes have actually said..."you don't sound like yourself teacher."  No, I sound just like the robot that I try to not have you be when you read to me! lol

Granted, the scripted material is very helpful when you have an inexperienced teacher as a sub, but for the real world teacher? not so much!

I stuck to the text for awhile....a short while. But with Saxon and Houghton Mifflin's Reading Street...they just don't include the terms, expression and just downright fun that I know I can add to teaching the skills.

So...I swayed from the manuals.  Sometimes a little and sometimes a whole lot.  And you know what happened?  My students learned!  I felt like I had to do it undercover and I felt like I had to fib a little.  Perhaps many of us fibbed and that is why the fidelity word stuck for so long.  Everyone was afraid to admit that they actually used their ability and skill as a teacher to teach their students rather than doing the scripted lesson in the book.

But with the adoption of Common Core, we have been given more liberties with how we fill the academic holes in our students' knowledge.  It's a lot of work to tie everything to the new standards...especially in a state where these standards are increasing what our kids need to know in a year.  For me I have already been teaching at that level because I have worked in another state where we were already there...saves me some learning curve time.  But for some, it's going to take a bit longer to catch up.

I think Common Core is a good thing and I'm glad it came into our state and our district.  It will only benefit our students.  Now, one thing I do believe is that there will be a second wave to this tsunami.  I think that once we get comfortable with Common Core, my district, and eventually our state will think the next step is to come up with our own power standards to fill in where the Common Core is kind of loose.  I think we will have more standards that address what wasn't addressed by Common Core...for first grade it will be things like; actual words read per minute, perhaps specific fiction books, and more details in what a first grade writer looks like...to name just a couple.

The question is...will we be allowed to get comfortable with the first changes before our state or districts throw the next step at us?

Here are some Common Core Blogs I've found.  There are some interesting articles and debates on some of them.  These are not classroom teacher blogs...but blogs with lots of research, resources, strategies, and some debate.  I particularly like #5....if for no other reason but its subtitle! :-)

1.  Core Knowledge

2.  Common Core 360

3.  Common Core

4.  Tools for the Common Core Standards

5.  Teaching the Core (subtitled: How to not freak out about teaching the core)

6.  All Things Common Core