Presentation to Board of Trustees, August 12, 2014

I was asked to present to the Washoe County School Board of Trustees on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. The time to speak was brief—10 minutes—and in that time I moved the trustees through the principles that guide the work we have been doing in K-6 ELA over the last three years. These include

  1. Let’s honor our classroom peers/governance and allow them to hear the CCSS message unfiltered
  2. The resources we use and promote are vetted, scalable and free
  3. This takes time. We have to be patient.

A brief mention of the Core Task Project was also included as well as the Core Task implementation Project.

You can download the PowerPoint here and watch a video recording of the meeting here. (The CCSS presentation begins at 2:51:40)


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More/New Common Core Inservice Courses Available

A number of new Common Core inservice classes have been added to the Solution Where catalog. You can read the descriptions of each course below and click here to register for those that fit with your professional learning goals.

CCSS Foundational Skills: This course is designed to give teachers a close look at the Foundational Skills standards. We will look at what it takes to make children fluent and comprehensive readers. We will dive deeply into ways to use Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary and Comprehension in the Common Core classroom.

CCSS Writing to Sources: This course will instruct participants to use the CCSS/NVACS, SBAC Assessment Rubrics, Publisher´s Criteria, BAP, Close Reads, and other resources to shift instruction to support students in citing evidence from text and media to write opinion/argumentative and informative pieces. Discussion will focus on how participants can more closely align classroom practices to the Common Core State Standards, the SBAC Assessment, and the Publisher´s Criteria. Participants will leave with a clear understanding of how to pull evidence out of text and use it when writing informative and opinion/argumentative pieces.

CCSS ELA Blended Learning, Unpacking Syntax: To support teachers in meeting the new CCSS Nevada Academic Content Standards, this blended learning course is being offered to K-5 teachers focusing on the role of syntax in text complexity. The course is designed to support planning, learning, classroom implementation, and reflection around the Language Standards and teaching grammar in context. We will use Mignon Fogarty´s Grammar Girl´s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (provided) and Judith Hochman´s Teaching Basic Writing Skills (provided). We will also hear from other ELA experts about how to navigate syntax teaching.

Shifting your Instruction to the Core: This on-line course will improve teacher knowledge of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy, and will support teachers in providing a rigorous, relevant curriculum for all students. Participants will explore and discuss the six instructional shifts embedded in the CCSS for English Language Arts and Literacy. A variety of resources will be used to consider the implications of shifts in the current practice.

Small Group Literacy Instruction and the Core: This is an 8-hour course designed to support teachers with using complex and grade level text within small groups. Participants will look at what makes a text complex, how to support students with the text and develop a plan for using small group instruction around a piece of text. This course is designed for educators working with 2nd grade students and above. The course will meet for 2 hours on four different weeks.

Posted in 21st Century Learning, Professional Development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free Next Generation Science Standards Videos

Paul Anderson, a high school teacher who publishes under the name Bozeman Science, has created sixty Youtube videos for the Next Generation Science Standards. If you are a NGSS novice like me, the videos are proving well worth the view. Each is short—roughly six or seven minutes—and cover the 8 Science and Engineering Practices, the 7 Crosscutting Concepts, and the 44 Disciplinary Core Ideas. When you couple the quality with the fact that they are free, you have some solid professional learning.

Before writing this post, I watched the video on Practice 4—Analyzing and Interpreting Data. Andersen not only explains the Practice but also provides suggestions for application in the elementary, middle and high school grades. He also anticipates student and teacher misconception and offers ideas to mitigate potential confusions.

Posted in Next Generation Science Standards | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Core Task Project Inservice Course Posted

If are interested in moving through the Core Task Project, you can earn a half credit by signing up for the course here. Most people reading this blog know of the CTP but if you need a reminder

The Core Task Project considers how to align classroom practices to the CCSS, Next Generation Assessments and the Publisher’s Criteria. Through an exploration of the close reading strategy, participants will consider implications for all areas of literacy instruction. Participants will be expected to try a close reading exemplar lesson with their students so that they are able to reflect and debrief in the follow-up session.

The dates for the course are September 9th and 23rd with classes beginning at 4:00 pm and ending at 8:00 pm.

If you are not a Washoe teacher, you can still take full advantage of the protocol that was featured in Ed Week and by Fordham. Do not hesitate to contact us and we can share all of the resources we use and respond to specific questions.

Posted in Professional Development | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CCSS and the Arts Training Materials

Secondary art teachers, from throughout the district, gathered to bridge art outcomes with the Common Core State Standards. The effort focused on a review of the instructional shifts followed by connecting the CCSS to the habits of Describing, Analyzing, Interpreting, and Critiquing. You can download the PowerPoint here, which includes video links, and all the handouts here.

Posted in Professional Development | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Common Core Learning Modules

We have gotten a lot of requests for the learning modules, matched to the Common Core and the Instructional Shifts, that were developed last summer. You can access them, if you have an Edmodo account, here. (If you do not have an Edmodo account, registration is free and can be done here.)

The modules include facilitator notes, PowerPoints, graphic organizers, and links to video content. The topics include:

  • 21st Century Learning Environments
  • Basal Alignment Project
  • Building a Coherent Body of Knowledge
  • The ELL’s Right to Rigor
  • Experiencing SBAC
  • From Common Core, 5 Big Ideas
  • An Introduction to Social Emotional Learning
  • The Speaking and Listening Standards—Getting Students Talking and
  • Why Text Complexity Matters
Posted in Professional Development, Social Emotional Learning | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Instructional Move 1: Text at the Center of Instruction

Positioning text so that it is at the center of instruction is challenging, to say the least. Thus, as part of Core Task Project and Core Task implementation Project trainings, specific moves have been integrated to assist with this goal. The first is “Text Talk Time,” the second “Talk Moves” and the third is “Text Talk.”

“Text Talk Time” is a move that helps students talk about a text they have been reading. Text Talk Time puts the onus on students for the learning and instills the habits of using evidence to respond to text-dependent questions. You can watch the move in a lesson demonstration here.

“Talk Moves” is a strategy to “develop communication skills.” In this case, students do the following during a discussion about a text they are working with: 1. revoice 2. restate and 3. apply own reasoning. It’s an especially helpful strategy for second language learners. You can learn more here.

“Text Talk” has a feel similar to Number Talks. In this case, students use hand signals to share when they have something to add, when the want to switch topics and when they have a connection to make. You can see Text Talk modeled here.

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 8.54.54 PM

Posted in Classroom Management, Complex Text | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment