According to a press release from Discovery Education, the intent of the workshops were to “provide teachers and administrators a better understanding of the key components of the Common Core State Standards, strategies for effectively integrating the standards into curriculum and instruction, and methods for aligning assessments to the standards …The Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted by 45 states, provide teachers and administrators a consistent framework for the knowledge and skills students need to be college and career ready.”
The workshops featured activities for the educators as well as videos and other media materials to provide examples on how others have worked through the Common Core. For example, on Friday morning participants watched a video taken from inside a fifth-grade English Language Arts classroom where a teacher worked through reading shifts in the Common Core by implementing the use of an expert from a graphic novel based on Harriet Tubman and her work freeing slaves through the Underground Railroad.
A graphic novel is an extended version of what is commonly referred to as a comic book and the exert featured what was considered “high-quality text” per the Common Core requirements.
Following individual reading, the students in the video had to answer questions on slavery from the teacher specifically based on the text they had just read.
According to www.corestandards.org, “The exemplars of high quality texts at each grade level provide a rich set of possibilities and have been very well received. This provides teachers with the flexibility to make their own decisions about what texts to use — while providing an excellent reference point when selecting their texts.
“... With the Common Core ELA Standards, English teachers will still teach their students literature as well as literary non?fiction. However, because college and career readiness overwhelmingly focuses on complex texts outside of literature, these standards also ensure students are being prepared to read, write, and research across the curriculum, including in history and science. These goals can be achieved by ensuring that teachers in other disciplines are also focusing on reading and writing to build knowledge within their subject areas.”
Hope Beall, a fourth-grade math teacher at Euharlee Elementary School, said she has used Discovery Education materials in the classroom in the past and attended the workshops to get a better understanding of how to implement resources to help students meet Common Core standards in her classroom. While the state adopted the standards in 2010, they began applying them in the classroom in 2012.
“We got a lot of really good websites from being here [for example], and now I have so much information to take home to go over and absorb,” Beall said, adding there have been obstacles faced during the past year’s transition to the Common Core, which requires teachers to approach students in new ways. “It’s difficult. Parents are having a hard time with getting away from [the idea] of teaching [students] the skill and being done with it.
“The kids have to investigate, the kids are pretty much teaching themselves and finding the path to the answers instead of us just teaching them a specific algorithm and ‘this is how you do it’; it’s a lot more modeling of in-depth learning with hands-on [activities] and ... we did expect a lot more from our kids [this year].”
Beall said while meeting the new standards has been an adjustment for all involved, she is excited to implement new technology purchased through the second round of the county’s Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant, which will allow for a 1-to-1 conversion of students and MacBook computers. She said she intends to use some of the resources she learned about during the workshops with the new technology.
“We had eight [laptops] available for check out [this past year] and I kept them pretty much checked out the majority of the school year, so my kids were already using a lot of technology,” Beall said. “I had a class that had to have a lot of interventions, so we were constantly using special programs and things daily to give it a higher level Tier involvement. … DreamBox [learning software] was a big one my kids used this year and we did it daily.”
Beall also said, for example, she feels learning about what are considered “I Can” statements under Common Core will help in guiding her students to not only meet the standards, but will encourage them to continue working toward their educational goals as well.
“There’s a check off [list] for kids were they can actually check off where they have accomplished [a Common Core goal] … and you can post those in the classroom,” Beall said.
For additional teacher resources through Discovery Education, visit www.discoveryeducation.com.