Taking Common Core to the Classroom
Donna Tileston
March 23, 2012

Common Core is what I would call a "priority" topic for me this year. There are several break-out sessions being offered at this year's convention regarding that topic. I will be hitting more of those sessions tomorrow.

I found this session informative and very helpful. This is especially true for those of us that are just beginning the transition work from the current state standards to the new Common Core State Standards.

"The most important factor in making any educational initiative is how well we empower the teacher!" This quote by Donna Tileston is one that I will take home with me and will do my best to implement when helping my school develop it's plan for Common Core. The classroom and the teacher are where "the rubber meets the road."

A great website for resources for this Common Core approach can be found at wtesk.com. There are a lot of free resources for schools and teachers!

So what are the major difference between the current standards and the Common Core standards? Here are some the major ones that Tileston shared:

 
  • From memorizing pnuemonic devices to understanding order of operations (not memorizing tricks to remember but understanding why)
  • From emphasis on reading literature to reading across the curriculum emphasis
  • From reading skills to real world skills (how do you know the answer?)
 
One of the books that this presenter recommends is "A Whole New Mind" by Daniel Pinks. She said it is a must read for anyone looking at the Common Core transition.

Based on the research that Donna Tileston and her peers have conducted the following list is a good place to start when looking at what kids will need to be able to do when approaching the first Common Core State Assessment:

 
  • Attributes
  • Compare and Contrast
  • Prove Answers
     
  • Another comment that she made that struck me was the idea that we can no longer just praise kids. All praise must be specific (why they are getting the praise) and must be accompanied with constructive criticism (specifically stating how it could have been better).

    She asked us if we have "power standards" in our school. One way that Common Core will change things is that they ALL are power standards. There will be no picking and choosing which you think are the most important. That part of the work has already been done.

    One of the studies she quoted found that bringing children out of poverty can raise their achievement scores by up to 28 percent. Empowering teachers has the ability to raise scores up to 32 percent. This struck me because I think sometimes we as educators feel we are powerless. This study would say that is not completely true!

    This session helped me to better realize that it is not going to be business as usual. Much of the current educational reform has left educators themselves out of the equation. This session helped me to remember the importance of my classroom instructors and the key role they will play in the success of the children in my school. EMPOWER THE TEACHERS!!

    David M. Hanson, elementary principal, Wyndmere Public Schools, North Dakota