Common Core English

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Furthuron, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. Furthuron

    Furthuron Companion

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    Jun 3, 2013

    As a California teacher, we are just now jumping on the Common Core bandwagon. My English department just spent two full days (and I think another full one at our second middle school) unpacking the 7th and 8th grade standards. However, since textbooks won't be coming out until around 2020 :eek:, does anyone who has been using Common Core at the middle school English level give any tips or advice on how to transition from rote memorization to these new standards?

    How different would you say it is?
    Did the kids have a tough time at first?
    Do you have any recommended lessons or formulaic questions that could go with a text?
    What about writing?

    Thanks! :)
     
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  3. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Jun 3, 2013

    Some of the districts around here bought English textbooks from Holt McDougal that are aligned to the Common Core. I don't teach English, so I don't know how well-aligned they are, or if it's just a repackaging of the old books.
     
  4. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Jun 3, 2013

    I really didn't have that hard of a time making the switch. I was in the pilot program, so I switched three years ago. The rest of the school switched the year after that. So, last year was my first full year of implementation as a team.

    Honestly it really isn't vastly different from the state core content that I'd been using for years. Very few things were completely different. Kentucky had "reformed" education in the early 90's, so we'd moved away from memorization and recall early in my career.

    Many of the "new" things I'm hearing now were things I'd heard of before. Of course, we certainly haven't solved all the problems in education, but at least the common core didn't throw us for quite as bit of a loop.

    I just finished remapping our curriculum last week. We did it initially two summers ago, but we needed to do it again to tweak things after having worked with it for a couple of years.

    We have the reading standards broken down by week, with weekly learning targets and quizzes. The units themselves also have speaking & listening, language, and writing standards embedded.

    We've never used just one text, even with "aligned" books. I prefer finding my own materials. We found that our books that aligned with the common core were too low with Lexile levels, so the kids weren't used to reading on such a high level and the state tests threw them for a loop.

    My pilot year I did some work with my classes comparing our old core content to the common core. I tested the same group of students on the same basic standards using. Students consistently performed a level below their usual level on the common core as compared to the core content. That was a big adjustment for the kids. The text itself was more lengthy and higher level. The questions weren't as different, but the text made it harder for them to do well.

    The first year we tested with the common core (2012-2013 school year), the scores were yucky looking across the state. Mine were stinky, too, but at least my grade level partner and I were above the state level with our groups. We'll take any victory.
     
  5. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Jun 3, 2013

    Start looking at close reading strategies. A Google search will get you started.

    Turn more of the thinking over to students. I decreased some of the front loading I do for novels and units. The background info still gets to students, but by their uncovering (not my delivering).

    I'm hoping to turn some of my units into project-based learning, but I haven't wrapped my head around that.

    You asked about writing ... take a look at those standards ... at the HS level, it is mainly about claims, arguments, evidence.
     
  6. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Jun 3, 2013

    This is one of my favorite aspects about teaching online. We aren't dependent upon textbooks, leaving us free to create our own classroom texts for our students using our Common Core / UbD work. We've spent the last year and a half aligning all of the standards to the essential understandings and major tasks. Our IT gurus have created templates so it will be easy to add the texts and lessons that accompany them.
     
  7. Furthuron

    Furthuron Companion

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    Jun 4, 2013

    Thanks to everyone! I will pass this info on to my department.
     
  8. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Jun 4, 2013

    My kids had a beast of a time this year. The vast a majority struggled - struggled, I say - with the idea that a) I wasn't going to give them all of the answers and b) that all of the answers couldn't be found in the text and had to be inferred.

    My focus this year was on short answer questions. I think this was the most nerve-wracking thing I have ever done in the classroom. The idea that a test did not have to be multiple choice blew their minds.

    I think a fair portion of how the children respond to the CC is going to depend on the expectations in the earlier grades. My county placed a huge emphasis on FCAT prep in elementary schools; therefore, our students are really only prepared to answer FCAT-style questions.
     

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