Monday, December 9, 2013

Seeing change, part 2

The district English Language Arts K-12 Vertical Team met last week and was as positive as the math team meeting the day before.  Teachers shared their successes as well as challenges and roadblocks to implementing the Common Core ELA standards so far this year.

Some challenges include:

  • there are SO many standards
  • time is always a factor---there's never enough!
  • teachers are clear on what standards to teach, but questions arise on how to teach them most effectively

The successes they shared:

  • the excitement about more non-fiction (by the kids and the teachers!)
  • students understand WHY they are learning what they are learning
  • students are talking about their learning
  • teachers are able to use the language of the standards and the kids get it!
  • more and more flexible grouping is happening in our elementary schools
  • students' are able to see where they are truly succeeding and struggling, and it's very motivating to them
  • more and more teachers are wanting to adopt workshop models for reading and writing
  • students are able to have (and are loving) more choice

The next meeting of the ELA Vertical Team is January 23, 2014.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Seeing change already

Yesterday afternoon the MSAD #6 Math Vertical Team met.  This team is made up of teachers from all levels (K-12) and represent all eight of our school buildings.  We took some time to share around the table the positives and the struggles so far in working to implement the Common Core math standards this year.

Certainly, there were struggles and challenges shared, such as the need to create common assessments, figuring out which standards (of the many!) carry the most leverage for our students, and how to help students that aren't finding success in mastering a certain standard.  More importantly, though, were the things our teachers shared that clearly exhibited we are off to a FANTASTIC start.

  • Teachers said that by unpacking standards (talking through and clarifying) with the students, the kids were learning and using math vocabulary more successfully.  
  • Kids clearly know what they need to learn and why they need to learn it, and what's most powerful is that they can verbalize it.
  • Teachers are seeing that they can tailor their instruction more deliberately.
  • Kindergarten kids are physically tracking their progress toward mastering standards---they can see where they are and where they need to go.  
  • For students that need interventions to catch up, those teachers are able to pinpoint exactly what the specific need is and focus right in.  
  • Teachers know their kids, academically, even better.  Doing progress reports was actually LESS time consuming for one teacher since she had so much clear evidence from her kids right in front of her.
  • Students who meet standards have a more specific path for more challenge---a teacher can move a student within the same topic area but at a higher, deeper level.

This team is more than ready to roll up their sleeves and tackle some of the issues and challenges.  Our next meeting is Wednesday, January 22, 2014.