California Educator

June 2013

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> COMMON CORE LESSONS LEARNED: COMMON CORE STANDARDS Collaboration. Communication. Creativity. All of these things are visible in the classrooms of CTA members who have geared their teaching style to the new Common Core State Standards. BY SHERRY POSNICK-GOODWIN PHOTO BY SCOTT BUSCHMAN W hile the new standards are not scheduled for full implementation until 2014-15, some CTA members started early in pilot programs. Implementation has been challenging, exciting, and, like the standards themselves, based on collaboration and communication. The CCSS aren't just about changing what students must learn. They're about transforming pedagogy, and sometimes changing the role of teacher to facilitator, so students are responsible for their own learning. It is, as they say, quite a shift. Lincoln High School in San Jose Students are told they have 20 minutes to write a group essay describing "social customs" and "societal norms" of the Roaring '20s. Using words like "immoral," "arrogant" and "decadent" in excited conversations, groups of students compare The Great Gatsby, a novel of 1920s materialism and greed, with "Echoes of the Jazz Age," an 16 One strategy teachers use is asking students to repeat the answer after another student answered correctly. essay describing the flapper generation's tion, the incorporation of technology, descent into madness, violence and povand students' backing up arguments with erty after the stock market crash. Both "evidence" derived from research — with works are by F. Scott Fitzgerald. emphasis on collaboration and on speakEach group has a "scribe" entering the ing and listening skills. essay dictated by the group into a laptop. Teachers and instructional coaches in Meanwhile, English teacher grades 6-12 throughout San Ryan Alpers monitors each Jose Unified School District group's progress on his own worked with researchers to computer via a shared drive create instructional units on Google Docs, inserting based on the new standards suggestions into their essays in English and math, which to help them along. teachers began piloting this Welcome to the new Comyear in the classroom. mon Core State Standards San Jose Teachers Association (CCSS), almost ready for members engaged in powerful prime time at Lincoln High discussions about what students Ryan Alpers School in San Jose. should know at each grade level Under current standards, and best practices, says math Alpers would have led students in a class teacher Samantha Leung. While English discussion about the novel alone and teachers focused solely on the new standards, assigned individual essays so students math teachers compared the old standards could opine about its meaning. Today's with the new ones. Both math and English lesson emphasizes the "shift" to nonficteachers ranked the new standards as "essen- California Educator June/July 2013 Educator 06 June 2013 v2.0.indd 16 6/14/13 9:30 PM

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