Literacy Unit Project Begins

Third through 5th grade teachers, from throughout Washoe County, gathered to begin work on developing Literacy Units for their respective grades. Session 1 focused on building a strong understanding on the research governing the Common Core Reading Standards and models of comprehension. This was done through video of Dr. Timothy Shanahan and Dr. David Pearson.

Following this, teachers worked through an exercise on how to develop Essential Understanding and Essential Questions. Finally, educators looked at resources matched to the CCSS—resources that are linked in the PowerPoint below.

The Literacy Units will be developed throughout the course of the year with final versions being made available in the spring. They will only include free and vetted components so any teacher can take full advantage of them.

Literacy Unit Development Session 1 PowerPoint

Grade 3 Model Content Framework

Grade 4 Mode Content Framework

Grade 5 Model Content Framework

Session 1 Notetaker for Pearson & Shanahan

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Assessment and the Common Core

In the video linked here, David Pearson, former dean of the Graduate School of Education at University California, Berkeley, moves viewers through the coming PARCC and SBAC assessments and the implications for instruction.

At minute 5:47, he begins an overview of American assessment history and is able to pinpoint when education began to teach and assess skills in isolation. Later at minute 6:29 we learn how commercial materials started the “quiet consolidation of skill based learning” and at 12:37, Pearson shares that one of the consequences of NCLB was that instruction began to look like the assessment. (Click on image for larger view.)

Skill Based InstructionThis groundwork in assessment history then leads to Pearson describing what he favors about SBAC and PARCC and why he thinks they are good tests. He finishes with these important conclusions:

“Students who have learned how to read and write in curriculum that requires constructed responses and real writing will perform well on PARRC and SBAC assessments. They will have developed some transferrable practices that will serve them well in these new circumstances.”  (23:40)


“Students still wallowing in a bits and pieces curriculum will not do well on PARCC and Smarter Balanced. There’s just no way I think it can happen.” (23:57)

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Video Lesson Demonstrations

The San Bernardino School District has uploaded several lesson demonstrations that can be accessed through Vimeo. The videos include the resources and lesson guides that are featured in the segments as well as comments and annotations from the featured teachers. A couple of videos worth watching include:

Socratic Seminar Strategies for 6th Grade Classroom here and the Socratic Seminar Observation Checklist here.

“Rigorous Daily Activities” matched to Common Core here.

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#Edchat Resource Guide—Downloadable and Free

USC Rossier School of Education has created the following #Edchat Resource Guide (here) to help educators connect and communicate around educational topics. #Edchat meets weekly and anyone can participate by simply using the hashtag. In addition to #Edchat, you will also find an additional 250 chat forums here.

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Washoe Gets some Press

The Core Task Project and the efforts of classroom teachers in Washoe have received a great attention over the last two weeks. Emily Hanford, of American Radio Works, produced an hour-long documentary (here) on Common Core, the first half of which focuses on Washoe. Hanford also wrote an essay that goes into even greater detail about Washoe titled Teachers Embrace the Common Core.

Momentum ran a piece on the Core Task Project and CCSS implementation here; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation shared an item here; the blog Impatient Optimist posted here; and Alexander Russo blogged here.

Regretfully this good news is juxtaposed against knowing that Torrey Palmer and Catherine Schmidt are leaving Washoe County School District. Torrey is going to TNTP and Cathy is headed to Student Achievement Partners. They are two of the most talented educators I have ever met and their contributions to WCSD are irreplaceable. I wish them the best.

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Building a Better Teacher

Fordham recently hosted an event titled Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone) in which Robert Pondiscio interviews Elizabeth Green about the topic. The section, beginning at minute 12:25 on being a “general pedagogue,” is particularly provocative. It is Green’s assertion that you need to know more than your subject matter to be an effective teacher. That is, you can be a great mathematician and know the right answers but that does not necessarily mean you know why children get wrong answers.

At minute 17:36, Green outlines the components of successful educational infrastructure that allow teachers to learn together. They include 1) time –time to plan together, study curriculum and watch each other teach and 2) a common idea of what students should learn

Lesson Study is explored at 41:58.

The full video can be accessed here.

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Core Task Implementation Project Session 1 Materials

The 2014-2015 Core Task implementation Project (CTiP) began today with a renewed focus on the Instructional Practice Guides and materials and professional learning matched to a highly core aligned classroom. This year participants will be working with the Speaking & Listening Standards, academic vocabulary, syntax, writing to sources and lesson study.

All resources from the first session are linked below.

CTiP Grades K-2/3 PowerPoint Session 1

CTiP Grades 3-5 PowerPoint Session 1

Domain Planning Tool for Core Knowledge

Kindergarten Year at a Glance

1st Grade Year at a Glance

2nd Grade Year at a Glance

3rd Grade Year at a Glance

4th Grade Year at a Glance

5th Grade Year at a Glance

3rd Grade Essential Understandings from HM BAP

4th Grade Essential Understandings from HM BAP

5th Grade Essential Understandings from HM BAP

Find a Person Who” Example and Directions

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