Monday, July 15, 2013

Common Core

Last year we were asked often about how our teaching was different using the Common Core standards instead of the state standards we used the previous school year. I really was not sure how to answer the question. When we were told we were changing to the CCSS, I really did not give it much thought. Our state had changed the standards a couple of times in the past 20 years. I knew pacing guides would change, but I was still using the same teaching manuals and materials. I guess it was in February that I realized just how much my teaching had changed. I did not realize that Common Core standards were not only changing what I teach, but also how I teach. Thankfully, my school system provides awesome professional development so this transition has been easy.
As a reflect about my teaching last year and plan for next year, these are just a few differences:

1. Types of Text for Whole Group Reading
 I had so much fun looking for informational texts to supplement my basal book for the week. These books are read differently than when you read literature. When I think about most of the reading I do at home, it is mostly to gain information. Teaching students how to read these books and strategies for comprehending informational text has been the most significant change to date.

2. Listening and Speaking
One of the keys to a great lesson is having every student actively involved. We use response cards and dry erase boards to answer questions. Everyone is participating. The participation now will include more student discussions, sometimes in groups, pairs (turn and share) or individual. I will need to provide lessons about what a good listener looks like (anchor charts and lots of modeling). I know the students will be still actively involved, either as a listener or a speaker, but it will look and sound differently.

3. Depth
"There are fewer standards so your students will have a deeper knowledge about the concepts/topics."
We heard similar statements and I was able to reteach standards many times and teach them a different levels. The "prompting and support" phrase gave me the confidence to guide and support my students through their learning. I was able to provide more scaffolding and not feel as if I was making a lesson or an assignment too easy.

4. Pacing
I did not feel as if I was rushing to get everything taught, especially with mathematics. I was able to slow down and allow the students many opportunities to develop a better understanding. In Kathy Richardson's Developing Number Concepts books, she explains that when children work with a task multiple times they will get more from the task. This means that the first time a student does a task, they are just learning how to do it, not really getting much from it other than that. Instead of teaching a concept and then moving on, we spent more time on a concept and practiced it many times in meaningful ways.

These are just a few changes and I know there will be more this year (close reading, accountable talk)!

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