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Get to the Core of the Common Core: 4 Tips for Principals

Posted on Mon, May 26, 2014 @ 06:05 AM

common core standardsAnyone can photocopy handouts, skim over them in a faculty meeting or two, and leave teachers to create time-lines and checklists for implementing new CCSS standards.

But if we are serious about successfully implementing these standards, we must, as Wynn Godbold puts it, “communicate this integrated vision of deeper learning so that teachers can appreciate and become confident about what is required of them.”

Rather than checking standards off a list, Godbold, author of How to Be a Great Teacher, suggests principals do these four things:

Get to the Core of the Common Core: 4 Tips for Principals

Begin with the end in mind
This may sound cliché, but it isn’t. You have to begin by understanding what you want CCSS instruction to look like, sound like, and feel like in your building. You must take time to formulate a clear vision before you can communicate that vision to your teachers.

Vague instructions are frustrating to teachers—they also suggest that you have not done your homework or developed a clear and attainable vision.

Before issuing instructions, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What does implementing these standards look like?
  • How will we know if our students have mastered them?
  • How will we measure success?
  • Does our measurement of success match the expectations of the standards
  • If we are not checking them on a list, how do we assess them?

Be mindful of how you present this information to your staff
The CCSS is a big shift for teachers and students. It is not typically something that can be accomplished in a single meeting. Knowing how you work best and developing a time-line of multiple communications will enhance your ability to communicate clearly and at a pace and depth that teachers can handle. Having a multi-conversation plan allows you to deliver smaller pieces of information at any one time.

When you discuss the CCSS, be mindful of the “myths” about the standards
Teachers may have heard other people saying things that aren’t true or relevant about CCSS. It is part of your vision-building job to set the myths straight. Avoid using CCSS jargon—“an inch wide and a mile deep,” “depth of knowledge,” “building conceptual understanding,” etc.—and make these concepts digestible.

Provide ample time to assimilate new mandates
One of the biggest complaints teachers have when learning about new mandates and implementations is that there is no time for assimilation. Teachers, just like kids in a classroom need time to think, discuss, and visualize before they implement. Do everyone a favor and plan for this critical assimilation time.

Photo credit: Martin Cathrae / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, educational leaders, common core standards

3 Places to Connect Technology Projects to the Common Core

Posted on Tue, Aug 06, 2013 @ 13:08 PM

We love technology as much as the next guy; our insatiable quest for cool new apps that we can bring into the classroom is proof of that. But we also know that technology is not a panacea: More technology does not necessarily mean more learning. While there’s no doubt that it can enhance our curriculum, technology—like any tool—must be harnessed by a teacher that is armed with clearly-defined learning objectives.

So instead of sharing more technology with you, we’d like to direct teachers to a few of our favorite websites that offer teachers real-world technology projects tied to core subjects and standards.

3 Places to Connect Technology Projects to the Common Core

common coreThe Technology Integration Matrix
’s (TIM) interactive chart makes it simple to align each of the five interdependent characteristics of meaningful learning environments to the level most appropriate for your students. Each learning objective has a clickable subject icon—math, science, social studies, or language arts—that will take you to a video that clearly explains the objectives, procedures and materials needed for the activity.  

common coreMicrosoft Partners in Learning (MPL)
MPL is not only a resource library, but a great place for educators to post to discussion boards and connect with other educators around the world. Since the site is hosted by Microsoft, it’s no surprise that they only offer tutorials and lesson plan ideas for Microsoft products. Browse their resource library, click on an application, and watch the video tutorial to learn how real teachers are using the application to enhance their own curriculum.

common coreIf you use Adobe products, the Adobe Education Exchange is another great place to find the instructional resources, professional development, and peer-to-peer collaboration you’re looking for. Resources cover a wide variety of subjects from digital media, arts, business and English to mathematics, science and social science.

If you’re looking for more ways to connect your classroom technology to the Common Core, we highly recommend this Slideshare presentation by one of our favorite bloggers, Richard Byrn.

 

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Topics: Educational Technology, Educational Technology Master's Degree, Educational Technology Programs, apps for educators, apps for teachers, common core standards

Newsela puts the common core into current events

Posted on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 @ 10:06 AM

Years later, I still look back fondly on Friday afternoons in my seventh grade U.S History class. Not only was it the last class of the day, it was what our teacher called “Current-Events Friday.” This meant that each student was responsible for selecting three articles from the newspaper, summarizing them and then sharing one article with the class. This event was certainly a nice break from the usual routine, but also we learned a lot about what was going on in the world. “Current-Events Friday” also forced us to get comfortable with the art of summarizing and speaking in front of the class. 

Newsela puts the common core into current events

common coreIf you’re looking for a new way to approach current events in the classroom and you want to be sure that you’re sticking to the Common Core, stop by Newsela and sign up for a free educator account.

Once you add your students to the roster, you can directly assign news pieces. Here’s the cool part: There are four unique versions of each article and they all vary in difficulty. Should a student find that the reading level is too easy or difficult, a different version of the same news piece is only a click away.  

As an example, below you’ll find four different versions of the opening paragraph in the article, “Marking U.S. Army means ready to eat, and not ready to throw away.”

1220L: “A ready-to-eat Army meal can survive a 1,200-foot parachute drop and stay fresh for up to three years — only to go straight into the trash can if it doesn’t appeal to a soldier’s taste.”

1050L: “A ready-to-eat Army meal can survive a 1,200-foot parachute drop and stay fresh for up to three years. But if a soldier doesn't like the taste, it's going to go straight into the trash.”

910L: “A ready-to-eat Army meal can survive a 1,200-foot parachute drop and stay fresh for up to three years. But if it doesn't taste good to a soldier, it's going straight to the trash.”

810L: “A ready-to-eat Army meal can stay fresh for up to three years. It can survive a 1,200-foot parachute drop. But if a soldier doesn't like the taste, it's going get dropped straight into the trash.”

Another convenient feature of Newsela is that each article has a reading comprehension quiz; the results will show up in your digital “binder,” which you can then download to your computer as an Excel file.

 

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Topics: apps for educators, apps for teachers, common core standards

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