Friday, June 14, 2013

New York Times Article Reveals Common Core's Short History

The New York Times reports that all was relatively quiet as the Common Core standards took effect. That's in contrast to the noisy headlines of Hillary Clinton's Bengazi debacle, which has been in and out of the public's eye for the past year. Why hasn't the public been informed of one of the biggest changes in education in our nation's history?

Some of the thinking about the standards reveals that they are a leftest indoctrination; other thinking is that it will add to the continued separation of political will among the electorate and Congress.

Whatever is thought, the fact is the testing is the key to Common Core and that's how educators and others will judge its effects. The most important point about the tests is that they're the greatest challenge students have had in filling in bubbles on a computerized form ever (there are also short essays required of students taking the test). The test is hard, really hard.

Finally, other than the tests, there is little physical evidence in the classroom that the curriculum has changed--books are the same, students are the same, as are teachers and administrators. Perhaps, the only change that can be detected is on the Internet which now has a national clearing house of tasks students should be able to perform in order to grab that good job or snatch a place in a good college.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Vary Learning Experiences for ELLs to Pass English Language Proficiency Test

What kind of information should you know to become adept at administering Common Core to your students?

A good place to start is with ELLs (English Language Learners). Consider the example of the group of students who aren't acquiring the language quickly enough (be aware, though, that it takes about seven years to become FEP, or Fluent English Proficient).

The Common Core Modules, which train California educators in using Common Core states that in order for students to pass the CELDT (an English language proficiency test in California)  in greater numbers, they must be exposed to "literacy rich school environments where students are offered a variety of language experiences."

How is an educator going to provide these experiences?

Check out these lesson plan suggestions from Sacramento State University Education Lesson Plans for K-12 Teachers.

The activities are varied, offering a variety of language experiences for all students.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Common Core Nonfiction--Hurricanes, Tornados and Tropical Storms

As you might have heard the emphasis of common core is nonfiction, that is the standards address the fact that students will be reading more nonfiction titles than fiction ones.

A popular and relevant nonfiction topic would be hurricanes and tornadoes--popular because the topic is one that generates a high interest level among students and relevant because of the increased activity of these storms in the United States. The conversation is bound to come up whether you are covering them in the curriculum or not. A lesson about these storms is a must.

The first consideration you will want to keep in mind is why these two types of storms are paired together. When students learn about hurricanes and tornadoes at the same time, they get the opportunity to compare and contrast these two types of tumultuous weather events that subtly contrast each other at the same time as having many characteristics in common.

From there, students will have the opportunity to write a compare/contrast essay, an essential skill they'll need when they graduate from high school, and that's what the Common Core are all about--preparing students for the future whether it be a career or college.

When students finish reading a selection about this topic, say, for instance, Tornados and Hurricanes (Cy Armour, 2011, Time for Kids) they can complete a double bubble thinking map (Venn diagram) as the first step of the writing process. Three more lessons can follow: writing an outline, writing the rough draft from an outline, revising and editing.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Free Common Core Standards App

Technology is now a part of the Common Core. An app has just been released that let's you search for standards by keywords you type into a search box.

The Common Core Standards app is free from the iTunes store- a must-have for teachers, students and parents.

The app also searches for standards in Spanish and other languages.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Common Core Standards for Multicultural Literacy

The Common Core Standards for Multicultural Literacy encourage teachers to cover the following:

  • World literature
  • Comparing web resources to print for a multicultural topic
  • Write an analysis of complex ideas dealing with multiculturalism
  • Write succinctly
  • Develop and organize writing appropriate to task, audience and purpose
  • Use technology to publish writing projects
  • Plan, revise, edit and rewrite works or develop another technique suitable new media Could this mean learn how to write informally for websites such as
  • Conduct research projects to prove a hypothesis
  • Synthesize many works, coming up with new idea(s)

...and more at Multicultural Literacy--Common Core Standards

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Literacy in the Content Areas

According to the Hunt Institute, the problem with eduction is that many students are unsuccessful in reading and comprehending books, documents, texts, websites and other media in the content areas upon high school graduation. Without literacy in the content areas, the supply of professionals in this area will dwindle because the education system is not meeting the needs of students who want to enter the field.

Therefore the standards in these areas--science and social studies, for example--do not merely teach students how to find and cite information, but, instead, to be able to read the media to understand and analyze what it does and doesn't say.

The standards were not only developed by educators, but also by professionals in the content area fields, so that they reflect the need for students to be literate in science and social studies and other technical subjects. 

In the video below, David Coleman, gives an example of building knowledge through reading and writing a document not merely to refer to it, but to have a command of the subject matter.

No longer will you as a teacher be able say I teach science through hands-on learning, but rather, I teach science thorough reading because scientists spend a good part of the day doing that.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Common Core Standards and Multicultural Education

Here in California, where I am located, you'll find that multicultural education is an important factor when planning curriculum.

This is true for other states also.

One good link for addressing the Common Core Standards when assigning a country report is at

There is a twist to this project as students not only study the country in this project, but also a poet in the country.

You can assign a country report and add the one or more of the following topics for students to integrate into that report to address the Common Core Standards for the country report assignment.

1. a politican
2. a poet (as in the link)
3. a novelist
4. a muralist (great for Mexico and Latin America)
5. a painter
6. a business
7. a photographer
8. a journalist
9. a teacher
10. a doctor

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Anchor Standards for Language

Anchor standards are the same for kindergarten to twelfth grade, each providing student knowledge to move into the future by providing a realistic approach to education, building upon each year's goals and objectives for reading, writing, speaking/listening and language.

The standards are tools to stimulate and build upon prior knowledge about a subject and relate it to the real world.

They're relevant to every grade level. The standards for each grade level relate directly to the Anchor Standards for consistency and focus in student learning of the academic subject matter.

Anchor Standards for Language

Monday, May 6, 2013

Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening

As the building blocks for students' successes after high school graduation, Anchor standards are those those that you follow to educate your students from kindergarten to twelfth grade, enabling students to build upon each year's goals and objectives for reading, writing, speaking/listening and language.

They're relevant to every grade level. In other words, the remaining standards from which they branch are their subsets.

They have teachers thinking about the skills students will face when entering the working or academic world.

Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening

Anchor Standards for Writing

Anchor standards are those those that you follow to get an overall look at what students should know by the end of twelfth grade.

 There are anchor standards for reading, writing, speaking/listening and language.

They are applied to every grade level. In other words standards for each grade level are structured by the anchor standards.

They have teachers thinking about the skills students will face when entering the working or academic world.

Anchor Standards for Writing