Each day, I arrive at work and spend the first couple hours of my day weeding through my common core blog roll on Google, reviewing all the Tweets from those I follow on Twitter, reading “Scoop It” collections, and surfing from article to article to article posted the previous day. When it comes to the CCSS, I feel unbelievably informed and uninformed all at the same time. I have read the standards…..repeatedly. I have read the appendices….repeatedly. And my list of CCSS web resources I am following grows exponentially every week.
While it feels satisfying to have a somewhat solid grasp on what is happening in education in terms of curriculum, sometimes I feel like I am on common core overload. There is so much going on! There are new revelations every day! I can’t finish a blog post on deconstructing standards before I start working on a blog post about text complexity. I can’t finish the text complexity post before I’m on to text types and purposes. In the interest of keeping all you informed as well as in the interest of continuing to curate resources and information for those who follow my posts, I feel a responsibility to keep posting as I learn. Go, go, go; learn, learn, learn. Again, there is so much going on!
And then, I post a link to Twitter and get this response from a teacher: “@ChristinaHank What is #commoncore?”
*Insert the sound of a screeching halt right here*
I am so thankful to the person who asked that question because it reminded me to step back and look at the big picture. There are so many teachers, so many school districts that still have not begun having conversations about common core implementation. Here I am delving into the intricacies of the standards, and while I find that useful both for my own learning as well as for myself as a resource to others, many teachers are still on the tarmac waiting to find out from which runway they are set to take off. They could care less at this particular moment about the use of the word “mandated” in reference to texts in CCSS (another blog post I am working on); they need practical, relavent resources that answer the question, “What can I do right now?!”
So, let us take a step back from the common core and talk about what teachers and schools can be doing right now to begin implementing the common core. I need to simplify my approach to helping you by laying out the resources you can be using right now.
Step 1: Introduce Yourself and Your Staff to the Common Core.
- This post features PPT presentations from the Ohio Department of Education. These can be viewed/shown without any necessary editing.
- Core Standards: Guide yourself and/or your staff to the standards
- Get informed about the PARCC Assessment with the most updated information through this analysis I did of the SB/PARCC Assessment webinar through Education Week
Step 2: Guide Yourself and Your Staff Through Deconstruction.
- The best way to get familiar with the standards is to dig in. In this post, I take readers through the process of deconstruction and examined by Chappuis, Stiggins, Chappuis, and Arter (2011).
- Deconstruction would make for excellent professional learning opportunities this summer, and would provide teachers with a more intense understanding of what they should be focusing on in their lessons.
- Speaking of lessons, begin using and encouraging your staff to use learning targets as the “objectives” for their lesson plans next school year.
Step 3: Use Your Time and Your Staff’s Training Time to Look at Text Complexity While Reflecting On the Use of Learning Targets and Deconstructed Standards.
- For ELA teachers, begin considering text types and purposes as they are described in the common core.
- Take a couple/few of the books already in use and evaluate their level of complexity based on common core’s outline for complexity of texts.
Whether you have started implementing or are elbows deep in deconstruction, I encourage you to take a deep breath, stop swimming in the intricacies of the common core (though, I would love for you to keep visiting my blog as a resource!), and simplify your process. The best approach to strong implementation is not in throwing yourself or your staff into the deep end of the pool, but instead to wade in from the shallow side. Simplify, simplify, simplify.