Thursday, March 01, 2012

It's been a crazy crazy CRAZY past week. I have been out of my classroom for 5 days in a row. Last Thursday I was at Project PRIME training, a math program to help teachers with the transition to the Common Core. Great stuff. I am totally geeked about the rest of the program.

Friday.. just an allergist appointment scheduled long ago..

Monday - School Improvement Team meeting, in house, looking at data, looking at where we need to head as we try to realign curriculum, trying to make decisions as we start the shift to the Common Core.

Tuesday - morning PBIS session working on our ODR forms for discipline referrals and our matrix of expectations. Then we left at noon headed to the Common Core Institute in Detroit.

One of the most difficult parts of living in the UP is how far it is to anywhere. Driving 6 hours to a conference just seems ridiculous. But that's the way it is. I won't go into all the excitement we had, though it would make an interesting post.. maybe another time.

The conference was Wednesday. The one obvious component was it was not put on by the State Dept of Ed but by a for-profit organization out of Illinois. They were trying to sell us their packaged program.

Lots of information, lots of good information... lots of overwhelming information.

The most interesting thing to me was the approach they suggest to make the shift to a curriculum driven by the Common Core rather than our current one which is supposed to be aligned with our state standards. Any other time I've done curriculum alignment, we've taken what we do now, and tried to see how it fits with the new game plan.

According to this model, no.. we need to start with the Common Core Standards and work backwards, plugging in things we have that fit, rather than the other way around, trying to make them fit.

What a concept... WHAT A CONCEPT. Honestly, how often have we gone about it the other way around, stretching to make our favorite lessons, the tried and true we already do, fit the direction we need to be going.

NO, we need to analyze what we SHOULD be doing and work backwards. We need to critically think about how to meet those new standards, their rigor, their depth of understanding of the material. If we have somethings in place that work, great. But we have to realize that we may be digging for new things, recreating/redesigning what we already use, because chances are, we are not going to be able to just slide those lessons into the new plan.

I am overwhelmed considering the magnitude of the task ahead of us, but I am also geeked at the possibilities of this blank slate we have been given to restructure our teaching to best meet the needs of our students.

Did I drink the Kool-Aid?? for their canned for purchase program, no, not at all. There are many resources online available for free for us to use to snag, adapt, use to fit our needs.

Did I drink the Kool-Aid for the Common Core Standards themselves?? Big time.. I am excited to be a part of this movement to increase student engagement and learning. I'm terrified of the process and the impending doom of trying to get everyone on board. I am terrified to think of the massive changes we need to make and the fact that the success or failure of our efforts will have an impact on my paycheck. But I know the direction we are headed, to a more individualized approach to learning, to a more in-depth level of understanding of concepts, to a more engaging educational experience for students, is the right direction to head.

Will it be easy? No. Rarely is something worthwhile easy.

Will it take twists and turns along the way? Probably. But it will be a learning paradigm shift for educators as well as students. Drink the Kool-Aid with me!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cossondra, enjoyed your article. At the K level, we've aligned the math to the common core and are tweaking our language arts. It was time consuming and not necessarily easy, but as you said, "worthwhile". We already see the difference it is making in our beginning level students. My best words of advice, "Slow and steady wins the race."