What´s the deal with Common Core?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by TamiJ, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I am seeking to understand how teachers feel about CC because we are moving towards common core. I think we don´t fully embrace it until another year or so, but that is obviously coming up here quickly. Looking at the CC, I personally think it looks just fine (I am looking at the first grade standards). However, I know I have heard lots of complaints about CC, as well as read a few articles against CC. I´d like to know your thoughts on CC as I try to understand CC for myself.
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I'm in a high performing district. Standards tend to be a 'floor' for us. There wasn't too much about the standards that changed our teaching. What concerns us more are the assessments. Well be administering PAARCC next year. Two classes inmy school recently pilot tested the PAARCC...the technology aspect alone could be problematic...especially in poorer, less 'wired' districts.
     
  4. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Can you expand on what exactly is problematic about the assessments?

    We have a school-wide meeting coming up in about 2 weeks. They will be announcing our move towards CC, and a colleague and I will finish up with an intro to balanced literacy, which is another move our school is making (yes, a little behind everyone else). I am anticipating some backlash and resistence, so I want to prepare myself for what some of the issues might be, percieved or actual. Thanks for your response, by the way!
     
  5. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    The testing issue is that it is given on computers. For schools like mine where more than half our kids don't own a computer and the school itself has only one lab and it is shared with the library this is a major problem.

    The district is planning to get mobile laptop labs before the tests next year but that won't help my kids get experience with using a keyboard before the test itself.

    Outside of that and the top-down nature of it I think Common Core is great.
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Hmm the assessments...from the sample questions we've seen, it seems that some of the questions are unduly 'rigorous' (for lack of a better word) and not aligned with how kids are taught...for instance, I teach my kids to read and compare paired texts through the use of articles, books, copied stories..we highlight, make notes in the margins, use graphic organizers and pre write before composing written responses....however to read online, synthesize the texts by toggling back and forth and compse written responses online is a completely different skill. Sure, kids are tech savvy, but it's going to be a problem for districts with little or outdated technology and student populations with little access to computers. I'm sure after a few years experiences with the PAARCC, well better know how to prepare kids for them....we're teaching the standards well, it's just the unknown of how kids will be able to navigate the tests that is the big question.

    You can view some samples here:
    http://www.parcconline.org/samples/english-language-artsliteracy/grade-3-elaliteracy
     
  7. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Thanks CZACZA! That is very helpful.
     
  8. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I love Common Core and what's trying to do (more critical thinking, less recalling info, more creating) but the assessments are going to be scary, especially for my student population. If you're not used to taking tests on a computer, it's already a huge issue. I have taken many paper tests (CSET, many of them, CBEST, RICA, etc) and it's all fine, but when I took my GRE on the computer, I hate it. I wasn't used to it, and it was hard, simply because it was the computer. It was the same feeling when I first started taking online classes, and instead of a book, I had to read everything online. It felt so strange.

    That's just one aspect, not even the rigor, just the feel of it. I tried to take the practice test for Common Core. Now I admit, I didn't have an hour sat aside for it, I just wanted to glance at it, maybe answer some questions, but it doesn't work that way. I gave up.
    I don't know how my students are going to do it. You're supposed to read a large chunk of text, then answer 4-5 question, and questions are not easy. I guess it's the same type as the CAHSEE, but being on the computer makes it 10 times as hard.
    Knowing my student, we, all teachers at my school will stress out. Students are not ready for this type of assessment, and won't be for a few years.
     
  9. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    That is very interesting. So it looks like perhaps the biggest issue teachers have with CC is the assessment piece.
     
  10. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I agree. The standards are just good teaching. The assessments however are going to suck. Kids are used to doing things on paper. Having to interpret a digital problem, transfer their paper problem-solving skills into digital format, and then inputting the answer (the equation editors are not familiar to any of them) is going to cause them a lot of stress.

    They're either going to have to create a paper form of the test, or just decide to give every school a computer lab, and reinstate computer literacy classes. They no longer even teach keyboarding at our District in elementary. When I was in 3rd grade we had to learn to touch-type (without seeing the keys). To get my kids a little bit prepared, I give all of my tests on computers now, and it's great for grading, but they really struggle with keyboarding.
     
  11. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    I do much better on paper than computer. For some reason the brightness of the screen while I'm taking the test gives me a headache and I can't focus as well...

    I don't like the push for computer assessments at all. But that is my biased opinion.
     
  12. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    I agree 100%; I don't even mind the top-down nature "as much" since it wasn't developed/mandated by the feds; states had the option to adopt and/or adapt the CCSS if they wanted to do so.

    I wish we could get the ridiculous politics out of CCSS so we could focus on what would actually help the standards improve education: more/better technology and professional development + accountability for teachers who refuse to actually implement the critical thinking, "beyond rote memorization" aspect of the CCSS.
     
  13. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I read an article the other day. I wish I could find it and link it. It compared the USA to Finland, South Korea, and Poland via the experience of exchange students. The use of technology was a big difference between the countries. Even in the poorest of schools there were Smartboards in the rooms or other forms of technology. In the other countries, technology in the classroom was almost non-existent. Technology isn't necessary for learning and teaching. The article commented on the focus in the US to rely on things that don't really equate to better learning.
     
  14. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    If education's purpose is at least partially to prepare students for careers and college, I have a hard time believing that technology doesn't play a role in education.
     
  15. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Having a SMARTboard and projector saves me time. I generally use that time finding other ways to improve my lessons. Even if my kids never interacted with the technology (which they do...), I'd still firmly disagree with the idea that having it does not equate to better learning.
     
  16. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I wouldn´t be able to do the vast majority of what I do without technology. Even when introducing a new vocabulary word I find an image and print it, then glue it onto the sentence strip with the word. Trust me, if kids had to rely on my artistic ability to represent some words they would really have a hard time! I also like to have presentations to project for almost everything, but absolutely for writing and math. Technology absolutely enhances my teaching.
     
  17. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    It depends what they are doing with technology. Sitting and watching a smartboard does not teach technology skills. Using a twitter account to answer questions in class does not teach technology skills.

    Now, having classes in MS to learn software packages, classes to start teaching kids to break down problems in to logical steps, and programming classes all would constitute good use of technology.

    Learning to use research databases is also a good use of technology, but just surfing the web to find information is not really a good use of technology unless it is to teach students bias and lack of credibility of articles.

    The point of the article was that in the US they dump tons of money into technology, but the pay-off just isn't there. The kids in the other countries, according to the students that spent time in other schools, came back seeing that technology wasn't giving academic advantage. Most of the kids there knew how to use technology even though it wasn't in the classroom.
     
  18. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    I'd simply have to see the article to comment further; I can't imagine research coming back stating that access to technology wasn't correlated to higher earnings and educational attainment later in life.
     
  19. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    As I said in the other post, it wasn't research, just an article.
     
  20. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    I'd agree that much technology is superfluous because of a lack of research, sharing of best practices, and diligent decision making. I think it's irrational to claim that technology, which has improved the efficiency and quality of literally thousands of other facets of daily life and industry, can't have a positive impact on the field of education though.
     
  21. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    We teach CC but our state test is still paper and pencil. I cannot even imagine it being computerized. Nightmare.
     
  22. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    I don't mind CC too much at this point...it doesn't feel like much of the standards have changed for me (2nd grade), but I believe there is a big change in the secondary ed areas.

    As for the assessment piece, my school is also piloting PARCC in 4th grade this month. Our computer lab will be shut down because they have to reimage every computer in the lab so that the only thing the students have access to is the PARCC assessment- nothing else! This year it will be shut down twice for about 2-3 weeks at a time and next year when 3, 4, and 5 take it, it will be longer. Our computer teacher will be teaching in a hallway upstairs using our laptops and hoping to accomplish something with the kids (we have computers as a special subject once a week). And rumor has it that PARCC could eventually come down to 2nd grade. :(
     
  23. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    I went to lunch with a girlfriend who teaches 6th grade last weekend. She seemed preoccupied at one point and I asked what was bothering her. She said she was thinking about her planning for the week and couldn't figure out how to approach math. If she taught it the common core way, it didn't match the state standards and she didn't have the resources to support it. She was frustrated because she didn't feel she they had received enough training or had the materials to support the common core. She is an extremely thoughtful and hardworking teacher, but was feeling very down. I don't think she is the only one.
     
  24. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    My main concern about CA CC assessments is that the new testing method is NOT child/student friendly. They will be taking a "field test", but I think all this will do is scare them for next year when the test will count.

    The requirements for the testing environment are not realistic. Each classroom, on top of access to a computer for all of your students for a testing time that could take up to four hours, also needs a color printer for the performance task assessment. It also requires that the students are comfortable with using the computer for transfer of knowledge by a knowledge of the keyboard that most do not possess. After looking over the practice test last week, it is my opinion that the folks who devised this assessment and acquired it for the state, haven't been in the classroom for a very, very long time, if ever at all...
     
  25. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Oh, I am glad to see that this thread hasn´t died. I am thinking about taking some online courses revolving CC (I am currently taking one about conversations in the classroom and it it connected to CC) to better understand it. Our school, as I stated, will be adopting CC. Since we are an international school, the testing is not going to be a problem. It has been very helpful in hearing your experiences with CC to prepare for teacher concerns when the school announces this decision to everyone.
     
  26. RadiantBerg

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    These tests will be gone within two years, I can almost guarantee it. We are struggling to make it work, and we are one of the most affluent districts in the state.
     
  27. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Do you think they will be replaced by other assessments, then?

    I would still love to hear from others and their experiences with CCS.
     
  28. RadiantBerg

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    It will always be something. I'm secondary. Here in NJ we've had the HSPA at the secondary level. I'm guessing we'll go back to that. Some of the teachers are saying this year was the last HSPA because of the PARCC tests next year, but I'm certainly not planning on deleting any of my HSPA prep materials.

    The new testing will run our district close to $1 M, and we've only received about 50k in state funding---not even enough to pay the salary of a testing coordinator. Additionally it will be almost 6 weeks, or more, of testing, during which we will likely have delayed openings. What a waste of instructional time.
     
  29. ktdclark

    ktdclark Comrade

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    I am in California. Our district is gearing up to start the exam. Our computer teacher had the k-2 teachers try out the exam just to see where our students were moving towards academically.
    We "enjoyed" playing around with some of the questions, figuring them out...I find this style of teaching and learning more my 'style' as a teacher.
    However, the technology component had so many gliches that I am really nervous how it is going to all play out (especially for my own 5th grader!)
     
  30. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I am literally starting to freak out. Our field test window begins Monday, April 7th. I've got the testing schedule fine-tuned, teachers have been trained on how to administer the test, and each student has a Ziploc baggie with disposable ear buds and a label with their personal log-in information.

    Although I'm as ready as I can possibly be, I am certain there will be quite a few glitches (since this is brand new for our entire state).
     
  31. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    My district went entirely online last year. To put it bluntly... the first day went so terribly that I went home and drank more heavily than I've ever drank on a work night before. 20 of my 28 kids had serious glitches of some sort. 5 of those glitches were severe enough that we had to contact the state to resolve it. It was bad, and frustrating for all. After the first day, the rest of testing went relatively smoothly though. Between my final five days of testing, we only had about 20 glitches, total, in my room.
     
  32. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    It's not supposed to go perfectly, its a field test. This is where you have a bunch of issues and start panning on how you can alleviate them for the following year. Nothing to stress about, its to learn from.
     
  33. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    When do you guys do the actual test?
     
  34. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Ok, so it sounds like the testing part is a nightmare.

    What does everyone think about incorporating CCS into their curriculum and teaching (I know a few have responded to that, already). When I look at CCS, they look they require deeper levels of thinking, which I like. That´s how I teach anyway. I´m curious to find out what your experiences with teaching with CCS in mind is going.
     
  35. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    We aren't a CCSS state, but we give the test in May. The nice part is I have a feeling this year will go a lot smoother... the obnoxious part is that the tech issues did cause scores to be lower than they should. Those folks doing full field tests should consider themselves lucky... we only had four students do any type of a field test.
     
  36. ktdclark

    ktdclark Comrade

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    So at this point in CCSS and teaching in a second grade classroom, I feel a bit more "freedom" to try new things and really experiment with cloze reading, research projects, group projects. I have chosen NOT to use our math book, only pulling an occasional lesson that supports what the kids are investigating.

    However, I feel a little lost at times, hoping that I am "hitting" all the standards in a way that my students will be able to apply their knowledge and skills in similar situations.

    That is a simplified version of how I am feeling about the CCSS:)
     
  37. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I've had great success this year with my social studies classes. I'm amazed how well my students are evaluating sources and citing evidence. These are the same kids who other teachers claim "can't even fill in the blanks on the notes I give them!"
     
  38. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    That´s encouraging! Since our school is moving towards CCS, you can imagine the amount of resistance from some teachers. As I look at what the real issues are, it doesn´t seem that the problem is with the actual standards. I personally find the CCS less overwhelming than our previous ones.
     
  39. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I really like the standards. The writing standards are so easy to overview and you can group the types of writing into categories (there are 4, I think), spend a unit on them, and you covered them. OF course you can and should revisit them, but the organization makes it easy to see.
     
  40. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Well, that seems like a definite plus!
     
  41. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    I'm not really sure how I feel about CC yet. This year we implemented CC, but we also had to teach our old standards as we will be tested on them in April. I do believe good intentions are there, but I can't quite put my finger on it-I still have reservations about CC.
    Perhaps it has to do with the population I teach: a low performing district. CC relies heavily on the foundation built from year to year. So many of our students move on even though they are not academically or socially ready. Mastery is not a word we commonly use in our classrooms.
    As for the PARCC assessments: two of my colleagues field tested the Math for 5th grade the past two days. Both are horrified at the questions, and how the students must respond on the paper/pencil portion of the test. Now mind you-this was a field test, and those two classrooms of students were SO STRESSED OUT that most did not complete the test. Most of the questions were 3, 4, 5+ steps to complete.
    We have a lot of training to do-for both the teachers and the students.
     

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