Thursday, November 1, 2012

Common Core Galore!

Today's tag will be for all of those teachers struggling with how to manage the new and overwhelming amount of common core standard 'planning-assessment-paperwork' into classrooms. Years ago I sat down at my desk on Sunday afternoons and began working on my lesson plans for the following week. Mind you, I already had an overall picture of what was ahead of me in my classroom for the following week. This was just a time set aside for me to write it all down in a concise format in order to hand it in to my principal. I was teaching in a public school back then and lesson plans for the week were due on Monday morning for principal approval. I remember struggling trying to squish everything into those tiny, little boxes! Teachers had to include what "The learner will do...", followed by T.E. pg. numbers along with a description of what the students would be working on. I worked in a large school with approximately 30 teachers. The principal read, commented and offered suggestions on each and every lesson. What dedication to her teachers and the school's overall vision. Several years later, out went the plan book and in came the online lesson plans for principal approval. Even though the planning was now accomplished online, the basic format remained the same with student goals and objectives displayed. I did like typing up my lesson plans and I even printed them out so that I could store them in a binder for the following year. Although, I have to admit, I did miss my old, worn teacher's planner a little bit!

Over the last few weeks I have been volunteering in my daughter's third grade classroom. Her teacher is an amazing woman, one of those teachers that is creative, magical and bursts into song at any given moment, inspiring to say the least! She had taken the required common core standards (in each subject) for the year and separated them into chunks so that the standards are separated into different binders. She titled her binders, so for example, she has a "Reading/LA Standards for Months Sept., Oct., Nov." binder to consult. The amount of binders and paperwork was truly astounding, not to mention she had to find a way to organize and keep her student's baseline data and tests on file for the year. I think by June she will need another classroom just to store all of the curriculum records and student data she needs to keep! And yes, she does keep computerized records of student grades- remember she is amazing- and of all the student data that she is required to keep on file for the school district. She showed me how each separate piece of curriculum comes with a list of common core standards that will be addressed in the lessons. All of those standards need to be included in the lesson plans so that there is a record that the teacher completed them during the school year. At the sight of all of this paperwork my mouth dropped open... all I could think was, "When is she going to have time to teach??" Of course she figured it out- did I mention she is amazing- by creating several centers (common core approved!) for students to go to and work at independently while she works with small groups or individual students. The mountain of paperwork and data will be graded by her and filed by classroom volunteers so that she can do what teachers do best- teach!

Now that I am designing curriculum units for different grades I need to make sure that I am addressing state standards. I searched online for my state's common core standards and printed them out. Hundreds of sheets of printer paper and ink later, I have a beautiful reference piece to use. I keep it in a binder and when I am working on lessons I put a check mark next to the standard I have covered. Anything left without a check mark will need to be targeted at some point during the school year. So without further ado... here are today's Tags 4 Teachers, I hope they make your job easier in some way!

Pre-K Common Core Standards for New York
Pre-K Common Core Standards for New Jersey
New York P-12 Common Core Standards
New Jersey Common Core Standards

If you have any common core 'Tags' 4 Teachers, please share them here. I am also interested in how you are documenting in your lessons plans how you are implementing the new standards, and how you are organizing all of the paperwork. Please write in with your ideas, they will surely benefit a teacher somewhere!