Trying to Make Sense of the Common CorePosted: December 8, 2011
Before I begin today’s blog, I just wanted to say thank you to my followers and all of those who have voted for me. I don’t anticipate on winning, but it is nice to know people are finding value in what I write.
I am not afraid to say that I am struggling somewhat with the Common Core Standards, especially when it comes to the argumentative writing. I am getting help and improving. My school adopted the language arts and mathematics standards starting this school year. Recently I enrolled into some professional development about project based learning and how to integrate it with Common Core. I have heard many professionals comment on the positives of project based learning and I am excited to start the PD after Christmas break. So, for this professional development I need to read a book titled Understanding the Common Core by John Kendall. I started to read the book last night and I can at least say I am starting to get a small clue where this came from, which helps. I wanted to write about some of my thoughts. First, the book I am reading has a small paragraph at the beginning discussing how textbooks used to be the “The Curriculum”. I know this is not the case today, but what is really disturbing is I have witnessed teachers doing this in the past. It hasn’t been teachers I have directly worked with, but I have seen it done. Textbooks are supposed to be an extension of the curriculum and teachers aren’t supposed to go from cover to cover and assume they have done their job with curriculum.
A little further in the book, the author discusses key aspects of the language and literacy standards. When he talks about reading he describes a three part model used to evaluate a text’s level of complexity. Two of these parts are quantitative tools and qualitative criteria. The third is the relationship among the reader, the task and the text. I have always shuttered whenever I have heard the term quantitative when it comes to language arts. Just last year I got into a heated debate with another teacher about how I think quantitative data doesn’t apply to language arts, especially when it came to writing. Now, I know that writing doesn’t apply to what the author was saying, but like I said, I don’t like quantitative associated with language arts period. How can one properly put a number on a student’s piece of writing. I can’t measure a student’s growth as a writer by putting a number on it. I see growth in my students in a way that isn’t measurable by numbers. As a teacher of writing, I am looking more for qualitative measurements. I am sure my fellow language arts teachers know what I am talking about, or at least I hope they do. Even when it comes to reading, I could probably argue against quantitative tools or methods.
If anything, I can say the Common Core and the book I am reading has me thinking every day and I am on my toes. What I plan on doing over Christmas break is to take the Standards and break them down and make charts that show the standard and what I do for each of them in my classroom. It is a huge undertaking, but I feel it is going to be worth it. I am always looking for literature on implementing the Common Core. It could even benefit me as a presenter too.