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Shifting to Common Core Literacy: Reconceptualizing How We Teach and Lead

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Develop new philosophical and pedagogical approaches to 21st century learning. Perfect for school and district administrators, professional development providers, and CCSS coaches, this book offers an evidence-based road map to Common Core success. You’ll investigate economic, societal, and educational benefits of the CCSS, discover out-of-the-box strategies to support implementation, and explore a more holistic approach to standards-based instruction and assessment.

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8 Chapters

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Chapter 1 Where Are We Now? Standards Déjà Vu

ePub

After implementing state standards since the 1990s, U.S. educators now using the Common Core State Standards may be feeling a little standards déjà vu. Been there, done that. So why did we change standards again?

Before we decide to engage in a long journey anywhere, we need a good reason. The reason can be as simple as wanting to take a vacation, to take a new job, to visit a loved one, to learn a new skill, to regenerate, to gain a new perspective, or to get home to Kansas. Before we start down a path to change substantially what and how we teach our youth, we also need a good reason. We need a rationale for making major changes that goes beyond just being told to do so, as that rationale does not bode very well for achieving the hoped-for results.

Since the decision to adopt the Common Core came at the state level (top down), it is important that educators at the local level, who are implementing these standards, understand the rationale that undergirds the standards and see the value of the CCSS as a tool to guide instruction in 21st century classrooms. This book begins by laying out some of the economic and societal reasons for the rise of the Common Core, in the hopes that a deeper understanding of the “why” behind the CCSS will generate ideas and enthusiasm for implementing them successfully. After all, the reform efforts that work are the ones that people make their own.

 

Chapter 2 Back to the Future: Road to the Core

ePub

This chapter offers a brief synopsis of the historical, societal, and educational influences and events that led up to the Common Core State Standards. The events are not necessarily in chronological order. The intent is to reveal some of the reasons, tensions, and discontent that prompted the creation of the Common Core State Standards.

Some educators reading this chapter might think, “We’ve been there. We know. We lived through this era. We don’t need to hear this again. Let’s move on.” However, when we move on, we drag the past with us. Therefore, if we want to make significant changes in anything we are doing, we must first think about what we did. As popular author Michael Crichton (1999) writes in the book Timeline, “The purpose of history is to explain the present—to say why the world around us is the way it is” (p. 480).

Knowing our past empowers us to create new roads that will take us in the directions we really want to go. In this technology/information century, roads may not even be the correct term. Perhaps, as in the movie Back to the Future, “where we’re going, we don’t need roads,” at least, not roads as we have known them in the past.

 

Chapter 3 International Benchmarking: Go East, Young Man! Far East!

ePub

Have you thought of relocating to a place like Shanghai? Hong Kong? Singapore? Japan? The Republic of Korea? When homebuyers in the United States ask realtors what they should consider as priorities when purchasing a new home, they frequently get the response “location, location, location.” As we forge further into the 21st century, and as the global competition for jobs continues to increase, realtors in the future might just reply “education, education, education.”

The increased requirements for jobs a student could obtain right out of high school and the push for more students to graduate from colleges and universities make the demand for top-notch public schools greater than ever before. Yet, while the trend for smarter workers is up throughout the world, U.S. student performance on international assessments, an indicator of preparedness for globally competitive jobs, is down. If you want the very best education, you might want to consider going east—Far East.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, speaking of the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results, notes:

 

Chapter 4 Ready, Set, Shift: Three Seismic Shifts to Move Us Into the 21st Century

ePub

People who live in earthquake zones understand what a seismic shift is. Anyone who has lived awhile in such a zone has probably experienced an earthquake that caused her or him to dash for cover, crawl under a strong wood table, or get under a door frame to avoid falling debris. While some earthquakes are so small that they are hardly noticed, others will rattle your home, knock a few things off shelves, and then send aftershocks for several hours or even days afterward. A larger earthquake can cause buildings to fall, sections of a freeway to split and collapse, public utilities above and below ground to crumble, huge chasms to open in the ground, and landslides that take away a piece of a mountain.

Just as earthquakes hold the potential for changing the physical landscape significantly, the three major shifts reflected in the for ELA and literacy Common Core State Standards have the potential to make seismic shifts in schooling. Each of the three shifts portends significant changes in how students learn, what students learn, and the way in which students will demonstrate what they know and are able to do. These three major shifts, if implemented with fidelity, should produce significant alterations in the learning landscape.

 

Chapter 5 A Core That’s Not So Common—Are the CCSS Really That Different From Recent State Standards?

ePub

Just as Dorothy developed insight traveling down the yellow brick road to Oz, our journey through the history, economics, social, political, and education background that seeded the development of the CCSS will provide us with a deeper understanding of the Core. When asked if the Common Core is really so different from past state standards, the information we have garnered on our trek, coupled with what we learn in this chapter, will enable us to answer emphatically: “Yes.” These standards are unique in noteworthy ways.

Whether we are far down the road to implementation of the CCSS or just past the starting line, a review of the organization and structure of the CCSS reminds us of important facets of the standards, brings deeper insights into how they support the shifts, and how they are directly bound to the college and career readiness anchor standards that pave a student’s way to academic success and good jobs in the 21st century workplace. As we focus on teaching a particular grade-specific standard, we need to remind ourselves constantly of how that standard fits, like a puzzle piece, into the overall picture of the Common Core. Each time we teach a particular grade-specific standard, we should put it in context for students. How important is this skill? How will it help students with college and careers? How can students use this knowledge and skill in their studies today, tomorrow, and next week? We need to help students see these connections. This is how we make instruction relevant.

 

Chapter 6 A Deep Dive Into the CCSS

ePub

The Blind Men and the Elephant by John Godfrey Saxe

It was six men of Indostan,

To learning much inclined,

Who went to see the Elephant

(Though all of them were blind),

That each by observation

Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach’d the Elephant,

And happening to fall

Against his broad and sturdy side,

At once began to bawl:

“God bless me! but the Elephant

Is very like a wall!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,

Cried,—“Ho! what have we here

So very round and smooth and sharp?

To me ’tis mighty clear,

This wonder of an Elephant

Is very like a spear!”

The Third approach’d the animal,

And happening to take

The squirming trunk within his hands,

Thus boldly up and spake:

“I see,”—quoth he—“the Elephant

Is very like a snake!”

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,

And felt about the knee:

“What most this wondrous beast is like

 

Chapter 7 Centering CCSS in CSI

ePub

Dr. Seuss had an uncanny way of being able to communicate ideas in a few simple sentences that would have taken many authors pages, if not volumes, to write. Dr. Seuss took us on journeys. Through his insightful mind, we traveled many places, from the Jungle of Nool to Mount Crumpit to Solla Sollew. While the places we saw and the characters we met were different from anything we knew, the adventure was fun, the journey caused us to think, and at the end, somehow, wherever we ended up was instantly familiar and meaningful. Dr. Seuss was able to take us to far-off lands to discover ourselves and what we could be.

As we are still in the early stages of implementing the Common Core, we have a long and exciting journey ahead of us. While the CCSS define the content standards, it is the assessments that will ultimately define the performance standards. The two must work in tandem—the content standards defining what students should learn and the performance standards defining what proficient performance looks like. As we get results back on the CCSS assessments, whether they are from PARCC, SBAC, or state-designed assessments, the data should be informative and provide us with another insight into our CCSS implementation efforts. Now is the ideal time to re-evaluate our efforts and to re-examine our CCSS implementation plan. The first questions to ask are: Are we on the right road? Do we really have a clear, shared vision of what a CCSS school ought to be?

 

Chapter 8 Role Over! New Roles in the CCSS School

ePub

While doing a standards implementation review for a state in New England in the late 1990s, a group of U.S. educators, at the request of the state superintendent of instruction, visited schools to gather evidence about how effective the state department’s efforts were in assisting teachers in implementing the state’s standards. The state superintendent also wanted to know if the visiting educators could see and hear the state standards as they visited the schools. Were the state standards prevalent in the classrooms and in what ways?

When several of the educators on the state review team entered a second-grade classroom in one school, the students were all industriously working on a project. Some students were working at desks, some on the floor, and some on a rug by the classroom library; but all were very busy and engaged in their work. The teacher was walking around the room, stopping to ask the students questions specific to the task they were working on, answering questions the students asked, and providing specific feedback always directly related to the students’ work. The teacher often phrased this feedback in the form of a question, the answer to which caused the students to evaluate their work against the criteria for the anticipated end product.

 

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