Less or More

I find myself frequently reflecting on the Common Core Standards.  While there continues to be great debate over the effectiveness and/or usefulness of these standards, one must remember the deliberate intent of “raising the bar” in the hopes of narrowing the achievement gaps in both a complex and rigorous manner.

Three strengths of the Common Core Standards: clear expectations, rigor, and consistency, continue to have a huge impact on my teaching and student learning.  Specific examples include more active learning (i.e. more students doing and talking), increased amounts of flexible groupings, increased amounts of higher order thinking, increased amounts of cooperative learning and collaborative learning activities, and most importantly increased amounts of formative assessments to guide day to day instruction.

What have you done to adapt your teaching to the rigor and/or demands of the Common Core Standards in your day to teaching and/or planning?



Staying the Course

The authors of “Staying the Course: Improvement in Urban Schools” warn about the consequences of simultaneously implementing multiple initiatives.  It is noted that attention and capacity for full implementation may be sacrificed.

This is an issue that we are faced with, particularly at the beginning of each new school year.  How do we adapt?

Often times I find myself overwhelmed, but in the end always feel a sense of accomplishment.  This year has been rather difficult in terms of making sure students are prepared for the “new writing” that we will encounter with PARCC.

Instead of reacting to the “newness”, my colleagues and I were more proactive and worked  with what we already had, and simply enhanced when and where we needed to.  We spent a huge amount of time in the beginning teaching the specific structure and/or format of each mode.  Once students had practiced and mastered, we were able to move on to using these modes in response to text.  We have seen incredible growth and success and feel that students are now ready to shine on the PARCC assessment, scheduled in the very near future.

Think about how you react to change and/or implement change? What kind of sacrifices do you make to ensure that all or most students will be successful?