How did you transition to common core?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by heavens54, Sep 2, 2013.

  1. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    Sep 2, 2013

    I work in a small school with very little training. I've had some training, but it comes from "trainers". I'd like to know from you teachers in the field who have adapted their curriculum to the standards; how did you do this? Where to start?

    Also, we are using a twelve year old curriculum, Houghton Mifflin. The stories are lame and very little expository to work with. How can I get around that and supplement in my classroom? I'm in a fifth grade, so the stakes are high. I need the kids to know science and reading comprehension, how can I merge the useless with the tested subjects with the common core? Or am I asking too much?
     
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  3. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I am not quite sure where the problems are coming from with transitioning to common core. The standards seem pretty straight forward.

    Is the problem that teachers have been required to use basals or dictated how to teach for so many years? It seems like teachers are confused by what to do if the teachers guide is taken out of their hands.

    I personally would suggest going to novel study for reading comprehension. Developing your own plans for instruction, scouring the net for activities...etc.

    I teach 4th grade in CA and the Common core language arts standards are very very similar to the current CST standards.

    My biggest issue is not knowing what smarter balance(the test maker) wants from students in the end of year assessments..this will just take a few years.
     
  4. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Not trying to be mean, but this should have been tackled long before common core. What you describe here has nothing to do with common core.
     
  5. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    We started way ahead of time transitioning to common core which was nice because we got to try things out without our kids being tested on the standards. (Of course it was still a disaster this year, but that's a whole other story.)

    The first year we took our old curriculum (Everyday Math, Reading and Writing Workshop) and adjusted them to common core standards. We went through unit by unit to see which standards were addressed in which units and then supplemented or added in lessons we hadn't previously taught based on what standards our old curriculum hadn't covered.

    The second year we pretty much through out our old curriculum in math, changed a ton in reading and writing. It wasn't because we hadn't hit on all the standards, it was more about raising the rigor, especially in reading and writing. We did a lot of close reading, lots of non fiction articles, all our writing pieces were non fiction or had to do with analyzing quotes or characters from fictional texts. It was very tough!

    This year we finally have programs but my principal never wants to follow them exactly. At least we'll have more resources. But there is a ton of stuff online.
     
  6. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    We began similar to iteachbx by looking at where we currently teach the standards in our current curriculum. And looking for supplemental lessons and ideas.

    We also research states that were further along (NY and UT stick out) to see what resources they made public that we could utilize.
     
  7. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    When I was teaching first, we had some "trainings," in which we were able to collaboratively work with other grade-level teachers to bring our basal lessons up to the CCSS, and to align them with the CCSS.

    Last year, when K and 1 were fully moved to CCSS, the rest of the grades (elementary) were supposed to be "transitioning," which I took to mean aligning the current curricular materials to the CCSS. Unfortunately, when I moved to 3rd this summer, I discovered that the teachers had pretty much just taught the same old way, using the old GLEs, and not worrying about the CCSS.

    So now, with no "training" or help, I have kids who have not been prepared, and I have to align/create everything that I do not purchase, since the district is supplying nothing. We no longer even have a math program at all, "since there is so much online." Of course, our number of copies or amount of paper allotments have not changed. :)

    Oh, and I rely heavily on states like NY and Georgia, who freely offer their materials online.
     
  8. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    I would agree with whoever said that the CCSS are pretty straightforward and seem to be inducing a lot more panic than necessary. If you're using basic best practices like backwards design and student scaffolding, I'm not sure what there is to freak out about.
     
  9. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Heavens, you know how to teach.

    Put that basal down!

    Are you self-contained? This is wonderful! Lots of opportunities to integrate. CC isn't really "what" to teach but "how" to teach it. Constantly reflect on who is doing the mental work...you or your students? They should be collaborating, analyzing, debating, etc.

    I found last year that my students didn't really know how to write arguments, talk to each other appropriately, or think at all really. :dizzy: It was really stressful trying to get them there, and it's still not 100%. Not even close! Some routines I've used to support them are:

    • Math Talks
    • Interactive Journaling
    • Formal Debate (with sentence stems!)
    • Close Reading (usually I partner them and they use a chart for guidance.)
    • Argument Writing (heavily scaffolded at this point.)

    This all needs VERY SERIOUS MODELING. In my opinion, the text doesn't matter as long as it's engaging. I could make the back of a cereal box complex if I wanted to. (Some people equate "complex" with "difficult." Same thing with "rigorous.") If they hate the text or topic, my kids shut down completely, so their interests are my #1 concern.
     
  10. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    It really depends on how different the CCSS are from your current state standards. When we switched last year it was a nightmare because of the huge gaps that were created by the transition. Much of the math content was dropped down two grade levels
    , so you can imagine the frustration for both students and teachers due to the lack of background knowledge.

    Teach some of the nonfiction text standards with science content to help them with both areas.
     
  11. Rhesus

    Rhesus Comrade

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    I fill in all the insipid edubabble on the forms and the quietly do whatever the hell I see fit as a professional while teaching my classes.
     
  12. RadiantBerg

    RadiantBerg Cohort

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    HAhahahahaha I love this.
     
  13. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Last year was my first experience with CC and it was all rather sloppy. My state hasn't fully transitioned yet, but my district decided that they were going to do CC standards only in instruction. The problem that teachers saw with that was that several of the "old" state standards were still being assessed this year in state testing since it hasn't been updated yet, and we weren't allowed to teach any of that (we sneaked it in where we could, but officially it was a big no-no).

    We had a reading basal (Storytown) and we basically looked at the next week's focus skill and tried to match it to a CC standard. If it didn't match (and often it didn't), we still used the stories but we taught a CC standard instead of whatever the basal said. We basically used the basal for the story/guided group books but didn't actually teach out of it all, which was actually fine with me. In our program I thought the books were actually pretty good.

    In math we were using math in focus, which is basically the Americanized version of Singapore math, and I was actually really excited to use it. They had used it the year before and the kids came in with a lot more number sense than usual. It's a very logical approach to math, and as someone who struggled with math in school I know I would have benefited a lot from being taught that way. Unfortunately, my admin said it wasn't working because the scores hadn't gone up after only ONE year of trying it (the previous year) so they made us quit using it all together. We looked at the CC standards and had to create all of our own materials.

    In writing, we didn't have a curriculum to begin with so that was all teacher-created as well.

    Of course, no one cared about what we were doing in SS/Science because those weren't tested.
     
  14. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    This is very helpful. I understand what you are saying. Yes, I'm used to working with the basal and the TE. The stories are not engaging, that is the problem. I'm not looking for rigor, but for engaging and interesting expository, with preferably some practice pages and assessment. I'm dreaming. I think I'll have to use the best of all that we have.

    Thanks for helping to make this clear.
     
  15. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    If you have the resources (or school will foot the bill) reading A to Z has really begun to grow their expository pieces with practice pages and assessments. They are also working on aligning to the common core and are releasing new passages all the time. It's expensive, but would definitely be useful.

    I would use the newspaper (order one or ask your school to) and then make copies. There are often lots of interesting expository stories in there and you could use graphic organizers as practice pages.

    Another great resource is Kelly Gallegher's article of the week. You would need to read these to see if they are grade appropriate (as many are geared towards high school) but I found some that are great for middle school.
     
  16. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    It's not that people don't know what to teach or how to teach. It's that either they don't have the resources, their curriculum has to change and they haven't been given the time or resources to revamp it and/or there are gaps in the curriculum, things that weren't previously taught in 1st or 2nd grade but are no longer taught in 3rd grade, kids should already know it...or things that were taught in 4th grade are now taught in 3rd. I think if people were actually given proper resources along with the standards there would be nothing to freak out about. But it seems like most states/districts are jumping into these standards and assessing them and just expecting teachers to do all of this "catching up" almost on their own.
     
  17. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    I transitioned four years ago as part of the statewide pilot. The standards are not vastly different from what we had. The transition wasn't bad. Mainly the issue has been finding quality nonfiction.
     
  18. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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  19. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    And that is what I'm looking for; to supplement our weak LA plan. Any pointers here? Thanks.
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    For what it's worth, my 10 year old daughter just completed her summer reading. I found a series of non fiction books she loved.

    She's WEAK in reading because of auditory processing issues. So I'm not sure what grade these books were intended for, but they were perfect for this summer. She read each of them completely on her own, with no help or nagging from us.

    Here's her list:

    Who was Walt Disney? By Whitney Stewart (If you know me at all, you KNOW we started with that one.)

    Who was Neil Armstrong? By Roberta Edwards

    Who were the Beatles? By Geoff Edgers

    Who was Elvis Presley? by Geoff Edgers

    Who was George Washington? By Roberta Edwards


    She still has Who was Dr. Seuss? waiting to be read.

    Here's the info on the series:
    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/?series_id=290680
     
  21. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Our transition was sloppy. They transitioned K, then K, 1, and 2, then everybody was on straight-up CC. The biggest issue has been trying to get people out of the rut, I guess we could say... tying curriculum into the standards deliberately. There's still a lot of back-and-forth about whether something should be taught. Then there's the text complexity issue with the new Lexiles - some things need to be moved to different grade levels, but there's a lot of resistance.

    I've been pulling nonfiction articles from roadworks.org.
     
  22. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I have like 20 of these in my classroom. One of my boys got into them last year and legit read every one I had. Now they even have a "What was" series. I have "What was the Gold Rush" and "What was the Battle of Gettysburg" (I think that's the battle one lol.) I can't wait to see what they come out with next.
     
  23. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Thanks for the heads up. I have a feeling I may start my Christmas shopping!
     

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