My Favorite No

In mathematics especially, wrong answers are going to happen. Whether it’s a miscalculation (what my 6th graders and I call, “silly mistakes,”) or a misunderstanding of the process or skill, students will make errors.  I recently learned a wonderful way to use those errors for good; in a process that both addresses mathematical misconceptions (or even silly mistakes) but also provides opportunity to find some right within the wrong. This strategy is called My Favorite No, and what I love most … [Read more...]

Better Know a Standard, Part 1: CCRA.R.1

By Tom For the next several months I’m going to explore a different Common Core standard with each post. I’m hoping to start a conversation about what the standards look like in the classroom. Since I’m an extremely sequential person, I’ll go ahead and start with the first one, which coincidentally is also the one getting a lot of publicity of late, since it’s all about “Close Reading,” the current rock star in the world of literacy instruction. CCRA.R.1 reads as follows: “Read closely … [Read more...]

#BalancingManyCaps Teaching the Common Core

In a recent article on KQED’s Mindshift blog, teacher and blogger Shawn McCusker argues that the 21st century teacher’s role has evolved adapting to the “new economy of abundance.” In a learning environment where every student is wired 24/7 to an electronic device, the teacher cannot just be a distributor of information through lectures. The teacher’s new role is to be a “validity coach” helping students evaluate sources during research, and a “chief analyzer” assessing students’ original … [Read more...]

NewsELA: Your next CCSS tool

In my previous blog posts about the Basal Alignment Project and Question Stems, I shared some resources that might help you navigate the tricky Common Core English Language Arts standards. Today I have another resource for you: NewsELA! I discovered NewsELA from a colleague. I then passed it on to the staff at our building and our librarian forged the way. She held my hand using this new tool, and now I will do the same for you. First, I spent some time navigating the site. The site looks … [Read more...]

The Data Flatline

I recently went to a training with the High Schools That Work team from my school.  High Schools That work is a school improvement initiative out of the Southern Regional Education Board and therefore not very well known out here on the West Coast.  The HSTW initiative  is set around ten key practices.  The more I have been operating outside my own classroom walls and in the world of professional development the more I am convinced that there are some proven methods for  good teaching and strong … [Read more...]

The CCSS is My Curriculum!

               My colleague, much like myself, enjoys a trip to the local teacher supply store. One day she spotted a book about preparing 5th graders for reading standardized tests using the Common Core State Standards. She took a flip through it and it looked good, so in the cart it went. As she shared her new aligned resource with her team, she started to get a feeling of familiarity. She’d seen the book before and not just over the weekend when she purchased it. In fact, she began to feel … [Read more...]

Making the CCSS Movie

The truth is, I have a really hard time saying no.  So when I got an email asking for teachers to create a thirty to sixty second video in support of the Common Core State Standards, I thought, "I can do that.  It will be fun!  I do like the CCSS and I can learn more about the iMovie app while doing a real project." So I said yes, and reality hit.  Thirty to sixty seconds started to feel like a very complicated time frame.  The need for brevity does concentrate the mind but I knew I needed … [Read more...]

Close Reading: a Reflection on the #FiLWclosereading Workshop

Text complexity.  Text dependent questions.  Lexile. Close Reading.  All industries go through their buzzwords and phrases.  And, right now, “close reading” is certainly a buzzphrase of choice.  Certainly, there’s caution in the educational world around new ideas, which sometimes don’t seem that new or seem to come from an outside force.  But, I think the best thing that can be done in the face of the new is to get to know the new and compare it to what has always been and what will come to … [Read more...]

Where is the Foundation?

Dr. Louisa Moats is my Common Core ELA hero. Not only have I taken her published LETRS training (If you haven’t, LETRS is not misspelled. It stands for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling.), but she is an author of the Reading Foundational Skills section of Appendix A. So when she speaks out about reading, I pay attention. Recently, she was interviewed about the CCSS. Not surprisingly, I found myself cheering and pumping my fist in the air. The following are my … [Read more...]

NEA President is Concerned about Common Core Implementation

By Tom As you may have heard, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel had some sharp words to say about the rollout of the CCSS. He called the implementation “completely botched.” His assessment is apparently based on feedback he’s received from NEA members over the past year. There’s no way to interpret this as anything other than a major blow to proponents of the Common Core. The NEA – our nation’s biggest teacher organization – has been one of the strongest supporters of nation-wide standards and … [Read more...]