Saturday, December 1, 2012

Taking on the Common Core Standards

I think I am in need of a "brain break". I better pop in a Dr. Jean CD...
No, really, my brain is tired...tired from thinking. I know it sounds strange, but I'm there right now. I can so relate to my students who need a push to get moving (mentally).

I am so excited to be given the opportunity to work with a talented group of colleagues on rewriting our  language arts curriculum in our primary (K-2) building. My team's assignment was to take a look at the all of the CCS for language arts and map out our curriculum. I have to admit that my colleague and I just stared at the standards, back at the larger piece of butcher paper and stickies (that we we were to start the mapping on), at each other (and repeated that for about 1/2 hour). Then, our very knowledgable literacy coach told us to get rid of our fear and just do it, not to even think too much about it, at first.

So, we went to town, mapping our LA curriculum throughout the year. At first, we just mapped the reading standards while working closely with the kindergarten and second grade teachers, then we started on the writing standards. And, before we knew it, it was time to leave. What? We only just started!

During a second full day of mapping, we reviewed the work that we did among K-2 teachers on our committee and continued to map out the writing standards. Whew!!! No, not done yet...we had to plug-in the standards for the Found. Skills, Listening/Speaking and Language. What? The day is over again???

Yesterday, there were more members added to our team to finalize  the map and make sure all standards were included in our map. By the way, when I say "finalize" I mean we were to get it as final as we could yesterday. This is a working document that is meant to be flexible/ever-changing. With more heads together, we had some deep discussions about why we were teaching things/when we were teaching them, etc. It made for some pretty intense thinking and conversation! The most profound question that was asked went something like this: "When you think of yours student graduating from high school in the future, what value will what you are teaching these students NOW have on their future success?" That just stuck with me. We had to take a hard look at our curr. map and make some pretty intense decisions based on that question.

Well, before we knew it, the day was over! We even stayed a little longer to plan our next session and to talk over some things. We all left drained, but excited with the work we did. I am so proud to have such intelligent, hard working and supportive colleagues to help make this dive into CCS an intense,  thought-provoking and exciting adventure.

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