Session Materials–Denver Core Advocate Event

Listed below are the session materials that Nevada educators shared at the national “Taking the Next Step” Core Advocate Conference in Denver, Colorado. Chris Hayes, Angela Motter and I did a session on Core Knowledge and how Washoe teachers are using this resource to reach Common Core outcomes. Later, my colleague Torrey Palmer and I did an overview of the teacher-led effort, the Core Task Project.

All of the presentation materials are linked below.

Core Task Project PowerPoint

Core Task Project Session Notetaker

ACT Slides Handout

Anatomy of Core Knowledge PowerPoint

Animals and Habitats Anthology

Anatomy of Core Knowledge Notatker

War of 1812 Document Based Questions

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Introduction to Core Knowledge Course Materials

Staff from Caughlin Ranch, Roy Gomm and Hunter Lake Elementary gathered for the district’s “Introduction to Core Knowledge—Short Course.” Professional learning, domain and lesson exploration, video of lesson demonstrations, and time for planning around the Core Knowledge scope and sequence framed the day. You can find all of the training materials in the links below.

Core Knowledge Short Course PowerPoint

WCSD CK Recommended Sequence

CK Foundation Recommended Sequence

Domain Planning Tool

Instructions for Downloading Core Knowledge

K-2 Instructional Practice Guides Daily

K-2 Instructional Practice Guides Yearly

Washoe currently has 21 schools using the Core Knowledge materials that are all available for free through the Foundation or through Next academic year, as many as 30 elementary schools will be using the resource in Washoe County.

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Primary Document Based Questions

I have finally created a section with our primary Document Base Questions on In February I wrote about Angela Orr and Chris Hayes’ first efforts and shared their first drafts (here). That was then and Washoe teachers have expanded the effort to include work on Colonial Workers for kindergarten, Westward Expansion in 2nd, and Roman Civilizations in 3rd. These, as well as several others, can be accessed here.

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Coherent Body of Knowledge Presentation Materials

Educators gathered to review the research and the opinions that have helped inform Washoe’s decision to focus on building a coherent body of knowledge using rich non-fiction. This included editorials by Deborah Meiers and Robert Pondiscio, research by cognitive psychologist Dr. Daniel Willingham, and a review of where this outcome appears in the Instructional Practice Guides, the standards, the assessments, and currently supported district materials. You can download the PowerPoint (here) that includes links to the aforementioned.

Coherent Body of Knowledge PowerPoint

Coherent body of Knowledge Notetaker

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NASB Presentation Materials

At the Nevada Association of School Boards meeting in Reno, board members learned more about the Instructional Shifts and Washoe’s K-6 ELA implementation efforts. This included a review of student artifacts and some of the evidence that guided teachers as they worked with the Nevada Academic Content Standards and the Core Task Project. You can access the presentation materials here.

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Repeal of Common Core Testimony—Three Things I Think Deserve Qualification

If you were unable to see the testimony from the Assembly Bill 303 hearing—the bill that would repeal Common Core in Nevada—you can access it here. A number of thoughtful and passionate stakeholders shared their opinion about the CCSS including parents, politicians, national consultants and educators. Although, any reader of this blog knows where I stand on the issue, I worry that opponents feel that their reservations are not being heard. Worse, I worry that opponents think practitioners are ignoring their concerns and have accepted CCSS without any due diligence. Consequently, for all readers, I thought it would be helpful to clarify three things.

One, our K-6 ELA curricular tools have been created and curated by teachers in Washoe. This is not political platitude but something we can specifically support with evidence. We encourage everyone to review what I am alluding to by visiting the site and Angela Orr, our K-12 Social Studies Program Coordinator, and Katie Andersen’s website This is important because some argued that CCSS has meant marginalizing teacher professionalism in favor of implementing programs and buying new products. These websites demonstrate just the opposite. Teachers in Washoe have taken the lead on identifying resources, taking them through a Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle, and making recommendations based on what takes place in Washoe classrooms.

Second, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, an opponent of Common Core (her testimony begins at minute 36:00), appropriately shares her concern that because of CCSS, rich content knowledge will be marginalized from the K-6 ELA classroom. She argues that the CCSS are “content free” and contain no literary or historical knowledge that would contribute to a knowledge base. Listed, however, in the CCSS are these 57 words:

“By reading texts in history/social studies, science, and other disciplines, students build a foundation of knowledge in these fields that will also give them the background to be better readers in all content areas. Students can only gain this foundation when the curriculum is intentionally and coherently structured to develop rich content knowledge within and across grades.”

Perhaps schools and districts outside of Washoe are missing the importance of this but our community is not; and I think Stotsky would be proud of what we’ve done. For example, Angela Orr has ensured that all teachers have access to We the People. Moreover, elementary school teachers are building out resources on topics for the primary grades including Colonial Towns, the Boston Tea Party, Early World Civilizations, Frontier Explores, Westward Expansion, Ancient Greek Civilization, Ancient Roman Civilization, the Civil War, Immigration, the Viking Age and the War of 1812.

Third, we are not unaware of the concerns raised by Common Core detractors. You can find evidence for this throughout our presentation materials in which we have read papers and watched video by CCSS opponents including Dr. Stotsky, Dr. Mark Bauerlein, the Pioneer Institute, and Neal McCluskey. They have been helpful in making sure we are asking the right questions and ensuring that we work through the consequences of the instructional decisions we make for our students. Dr. Stotsky has been an especially important voice because of all the guidance she has made available on text complexity and reading motivation.

I realize this post will not change opinions but I am hopeful that a bit more context for the work we have done in Washoe will help supporters of AB303 understand that some of their reservations are being addressed.

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March Session of CTiP for Grades 3 through 5

The March session of the Core Task implementation Project, for 3rd through 5th grade teachers, focused on academic vocabulary. Teachers, working with Basal Alignment Project lessons or close reads, reviewed two instructional moves to enhance these resources—Questions, Reasons, Examples and Making Choices.

Educators also reviewed a video from the project. The lesson demonstration focused on a rich and rigorous conversation for the text, A Game of Catch. These were viewed through the lens of the Instructional Practice Guides.

March CTiP PowerPoint for Grades 3-5

Teacher Reflection Notetaker

Alphabetics Sort

Fluency Sort

Vocabulary Sort

Writing Sort

Comprehension Sort

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Caughlin Ranch Elementary CK Overview Materials

Staff at Caughlin Ranch Elementary learned more about the Core Knowledge curricular materials and about sites currently working with the resource. The session included some learning on why you would build a coherent body of knowledge followed by teachers hearing more about the context for why some classroom teachers initially gravitated to the resource. In fact, this is one of the little known facts about CK in Washoe. The first work around CK had no district sponsorship. Instead, it was classroom teachers who saw value in the materials and started sharing their successes with the district. In turn, the district started observing what was happening and this led to a more formal pilot at one elementary school.

You can download the session PowerPoint here.

Article 1: Impact of NCLB

Article 2: The 4th Grade Slump

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Core Task implementation Project Session 6–Foundations and Academic Vocab

Session 6 of the Core Task implementation Project featured three activities to strengthen Tier 1 instruction. The first was a blast from the past in which participants looked through elements of NELIP (remember that?) and noted which were addressed through the Core Knowledge Listening and Learning Strand. Educators also shared teacher and student artifacts to demonstrate how to scaffold children through rich curricular material and keep students engaged. The last activity had teachers working with the vocabulary activity, Making Choices (linked in the PowerPoint).

As with every CTiP, teachers viewed a videotaped lesson demonstration from a Washoe teacher. This time, educators watched Adrienne Bemus teach a lesson on the animals of the Sonoran Desert.

Session 6 PowerPoint

Teacher Reflection Form (updated 3.12.15)

Alphabetics Sort

Fluency Sort

Vocabulary Sort

Writing Sort

Comprehension Sort

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K-6 ELA Differentiated Session Opportunities

At the March 13th IS training, educators were presented with “differentiated” session choices for future spring gatherings. The session options reflect current learning from the 2014-2015 academic year as well as a review of material from previous school years. If enough interest is expressed in a topic, content will be presented on the topic in the coming months. You can review the PowerPoint introducing the choices as well as look over the last slides that list vetted ELA material for the elementary grades.

Number 1: An overview of the Core Task implementation Project (CTiP) sessions this year with an opportunity to engage in the same work 200 teachers have. This would include learning from Lauren Resnick, Timothy Shanahan; Robert Pondiscio; and Lily Wong Fillmore.

Number 2: There are a number of resources that K-6 ELA is using to help classroom teachers shift instruction. The list includes BAP, RAP, Text Sets, In Common, Core Knowledge, nonfictionminute, close reading exemplars, Text Project and ReadWorks. This session would focus on the aforementioned resources, implementation ideas, and the learning that helps support their appropriate use.

Number 3: Text Complexity. A review of content shared during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years with a close look at the research that informed the inclusion of reading standard 10 in the CCSS.

Number 4: Building a Coherent Body of Knowledge: Again, review from previous school years with discussions about video from Dr. Daniel Willingham, Dr. Timothy Shanahan, the ACT Report, Reading Between the Lines, and the MetaMetrics study on Lexile Measures.

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