Saturday, May 5, 2012

What is Not Covered by Common Core

In May I often walk into the classroom feeling overwhelmed by the number of activities, assessments and programs that we have scheduled. With 18 days left, I am living the much to do, so little time.  My friend Lauren and I have been reminding each other (and our students) to slow down. I think we have to slow down and take time for finishing projects or units of instruction in the midst of assessment. We have to slow down and show our kids how important it is to keep listening to each other even if we would just rather be done.

Beginning to explore common core has also presented some of the same overwhelming feelings at times. Not in the sense that the standards will be "hard" to teach or that some standards will be new, but overwhelming because there is quite a bit to read and absorb when slowing down to begin to understand the purpose and philosophy of the common core.  When visiting, you can read about college and career anchor standards, explore your grade level standards, read about the factors that make up text complexity and it's importance within cc, the process in which the standards were created, how to read the standards and more.  After really just skimming many of these pieces, I found my favorite part of common core.  It is titled "What is not covered by the standards" and found underneath the key considerations tab which is under the introduction.  There are a number of key points underneath this heading help us remember that while standards are important, we as teachers are able to make creative, caring and developmental decisions about the students we teach. Common core does tells us :

1. PLAY is important for all students.
"The Standards define what all students are expected to know and be able to do, not how teachers should teach. For instance, the use of play with young children is not specified by the Standards, but it is welcome as a valuable activity in its own right and as a way to help students meet the expectations in this document." 

2.  Be creative!!
"The aim of the Standards is to articulate the fundamentals, not to set out an exhaustive list or a set of restrictions that limits what can be taught beyond what is specified herein."

3. Think about the unique needs of students

  • "No set of grade-specific standards can fully reflect the great variety in abilities, needs, learning rates, and achievement levels of students in any given classroom. However, the Standards do provide clear signposts along the way to the goal of college and career readiness for all students." 
  • and
  • "Each grade will include students who are still acquiring English. For those students, it is possible to meet the standards in reading, writing, speaking, and listening without displaying native-like control of conventions and vocabulary."
4.  Think about the whole child 

"Students require a wide-ranging, rigorous academic preparation and, particularly in the early grades, attention to such matters as social, emotional, and physical development and approaches to learning. "

 Even though there is and will likely be exhaustive sources and ideas for use with common core, I feel less overwhelmed by the fact that the writers of this initiative have asked us to consider what it doesn't cover.  Here we find some license to keep differentiating, listening, observing and making decisions about what is best for our students. 


GT Reading Club said...

Thank you for posting this. I have been looking for something to bring me back to the core of my teaching and I would never have guessed that common core could do that. That's for exploring and discovering.

Karen Szymusiak said...

A very important post.

Maria said...

Thank you for this post-I shared it with my school such important ideas to remember as we begin to explore Common Core.

josie said...

This is an important post, I want to remember it and share it often!

Mary Lee said...

WHEW! Glad there is a voice of reason (albeit hidden) in the CCS.

Karen said...

Katie, thanks for this thinking. These are such important points; ones we should all keep in mind.

Mrs. Robinson said...

Thank you for posting. I've been reading a book called Pathways to Common Core, Accelerating Achievement by Lucy Calkins and it has helped me understand how to incorperate a love for reading into my instruction. In Kentucky, we've been using Common Core for a year now and our students are being assessed using it.

Sarah said...

It's important to remember we are looking at a destination with the common core. The roads we take to get to that destination will depend on those children we carry along the way. Each child needs our guidance to help and translate our learning message into their own language. Their language can only be activated through their little minds. This is where we are the specialists because we know how their little minds work.