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Monday, July 29, 2013

Pathways to the Common Core - Chapters 1 & 2

Things have been pretty crazy here!  I am trying to squeeze every ounce out of summer that I can get.  So, last Thursday, my daughters and I drove down to the little hometown I grew up in.  It is about a 2 hour drive.

We did it so we could surprise my mom for her 70th birthday.  We called her from the car and sang her Happy Birthday and then showed up in my parents' driveway 5 minutes later.  She was SOOOOO surprised.  I love it!  She is always doing nice things for me so it was wonderful to pay her back!

We drove back on Friday because my oldest daughter had a softball tournament with a game on Friday night.  Got rained out, so we relaxed at home.  Doubleheader on Saturday and Sunday left the weekend pretty much scheduled!  The unfortunate thing was that my daughter woke up on Sunday with a stiff neck and could barely move her head to the right.  It also hurt when she tried to throw.  We were able to get her limbered up enough to play for the second game.

Okay, week one of my (I would say our instead of my, but I don't know yet if anyone is reading it with me) professional book study.  Did ya read, did ya read?  I did!  My goal this week was to read Chapter 1 and 2.

An Introduction to the Common Core State Standards
Chapter 1 was a great beginning I thought.  It talked about our approach to looking at The Standards.  We can look at the standards through the eyes of a curmudgeon.  We can complain about the standards and argue the points where the standards might be weak or areas where we disagree.

Or we can look at the standards as if they are gold.  We can notice and highlight what the standards are doing right.  It has a very clear design, and setting the bar high is not always a bad thing.
I think that this is true for the standards as well as for the way you look at the world.  You have a choice to sit and complain about how this influential educational reform is affecting you and your classroom.  Or, you can look at it as a way to make some effective and lasting changes about the way we look at teaching and education.  The standards have made it very clear that we as educators decide how we implement the standards.  This is our chance to stand up and be a leader in our school/district/state as to how the standards will be implemented.  We can be at the forefront of change!  (Is it too obvious which way I choose to look at the standards)?

Overview of the Reading Standards
Chapter 2 just talked about what the reading standards look like.  Number one is that the standards unify both the reading of fiction and non-fiction texts.  Many of the standards for fiction and non-fiction are even worded the same.  Number 2 is that the standards definitely value deep comprehension and higher-order thinking skills.  Gone are the days of hearing your students say, "Oh, I have a personal connection."  The standards clearly spell out time and again that the text is at the forefront for interpretation.  The last part of the chapter listed some things to keep in mind as schools and districts start implementing the standards.

There were some additional resources that were mentioned that I would like to spend some time looking into:  Webb's Depth of Knowledge work and Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.

Next week:  Chapter 3

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