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What are the Common Core State Standards? The Common Core State Standards Initiative is “preparing America’s students for college and career” and the Initiative’s mission is:

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy (Common Core website).

Why does the Common Core matter? The goal for us as teachers is to engage students in learning while aligning lessons to the Common Core Standards. Engagement occurs when teachers create:

    1. defined learning targets so that students know what is expected each day to achieve an overall learning goal;
    2. learning tasks that align to learning targets that guide student practice toward achieving the targets;
    3. feedback strategies that promote a feedback loop in the classroom meaning feedback occurs as part of instruction and from self-reflection, peer input and teacher input; and
    4. summative assessments that align to a natural segment of instruction and culminate to reflect student mastery of the 30 Day Learning Goal or the unpacked part of the Common Core Standard.

What resources are available for teachers? Several websites, blogs, resources, and tools are available for teachers. Below is an example from each area:

(Website) One page on the Common Sore State Standards Initiative website provides PDFs that may be downloaded. The PDFs cover an introduction to the standards, applications of the standards for different content areas and the standards by content area. Available at http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards.

(Blog) The New York Times The Learning Network: Teaching & Learning With The New York Times” blog is an opportunity to learn how teachers are integrating the Common Core Standards into their classrooms. Check out the September 14, 2012, blog “Introducing an Experiment: Weekly Common Core Practice Prompts” by Schulten for one example. In this blog, two teachers team teaching ninth-grade history and English discuss their use of The New York Times in their classes to teach core standards; the students are the benefactors:

By reading the newspaper daily and writing in response to the paper’s content, our students greatly improved both their critical thinking and writing ability. Using The Times to teach history and literacy this past year forever changed our approach to education.

We are now able to meet all Common Core State Standards for writing and reading informational text, while preserving the literature curriculum already studied in English class. As a result of our daily inclusion of The Times, our redesigned classroom is now filled with topical writing, lively debate and students making connections between what they are learning in their classrooms with what is happening throughout the world around them.

(Resources) The ASCD SmartBrief last week (September 19, 2012) included a news item highlighting Zywicki’s “top resources picks for aligning [social studies] curricula to the new standards with student-driven lessons” (SmartBrief). Below are his top 5; read more about each one here.

 1) The Choices Program – http://www.choices.edu/

2) DBQ Project – http://www.dbqproject.com/

3) Read Like a Historian – http://sheg.stanford.edu/?q=node/45

4) Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History – http://www.gilderlehrman.org/

5) SPICE – http://spice.stanford.edu/

(Tool) The iLessonReady™ app is a lesson development solution for teachers to use to engage students in learning while aligning lessons to the Common Core Standards. It guides teachers to create learning targets, learning tasks and feedback strategies (formative assessments) that help students achieve one learning target at a time until students achieve a learning goal aligned to the Common Core Standards by helping teachers unpack the standards into meaningful 30 day learning goals and then align daily lessons to this goal. The app’s structure/development aligns to long standing, research-based practices identifying the most effective variables that influence student achievement and engagement (Black & Wiliam, 2012, 1998; Brookhart, 2012, 2008; Hattie, 2012, 2008; Pilcher, 2012, 2010; Stiggins, 2012; 2007). Check it out at http://www.iLessonReady.com or visit the iTunes store.

 

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Common Core State Standards Initiative. Website available here.

Schulten, Katherine. (09/14/2012). Introducing an Experiment: Weekly Common Core Practice Prompts. Blog at The New York Times online and available here.

Zywicki, Robert. “5 Top Resources for Aligning Your Social Studies Curricula to the Common Core” an ASCD edge blog online and available here.

Check out iLessonReady™ at http://www.iLessonReady.com or visit the iTunes store.

Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. To do this we work with school boards, leaders, and teachers to apply Evidence-Based continuous improvement processes and the principles from How to Lead Teachers to Become Great in their districts to get the best student learning results and create results-oriented school cultures. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.