Wow, what a year! I have just finished my first year teaching the Common Core Standards. Many questions that I started the year with are still unanswered. It has definitely been a learning experience for me, but I have so much more to learn. I am aware that many other states, counties, and schools adopted Common Core long before our county, but this year was my first diving into the standards and putting the pieces together.
Why Common Core? Last summer I set out to conquer the Common Core so I would be fully prepared to teach the standards when my students walked through the door on the very first day. The first place I went was, of course, the Common Core State Standards Initiative website. As I perused the site, several things became apparent to me: this was going to be quite a learning curve, students would come to my class without some pre-requisite skills, and rigor would definitely be increased.
I knew that this would be a learning curve. All summer I read everything I could find about the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts. I read blogs of teachers who were already teaching the standards. I kept a journal of ideas I could use when teaching certain standards. When we would meet for county meetings, no one could really explain to us what was expected. I know that this year would be a challenge, but it was a challenge I would accept because I wanted my students to walk out of my classroom at the end of the year with all of the knowledge and learning experiences they needed to be successful in the next grade. I learned so many things this year. I learned that my instructional time needed to be adjusted. This took a little getting use to because I was so familiar with our old Georgia Performance Standards. I also learned that my assessments needed revamping. I added a lot more written responses to everything we did- comprehension questions, quizzes, tests, etc.
When diving into the standards last summer, I immediately knew that a lot of my students would come to class without the background knowledge needed for certain standards. Luckily, our state put together a "transition" guide with skills we would need to teach in addition to all of the other required standards. My bell to bell classroom became even more jam-packed. I felt at times my students were a little overwhelmed. Whenever I would feel I was putting too much on them, I would take a step back and incorporate a fun assessment for the students to demonstrate that they were really grasping the content. When they realized they were getting it, they became more confident and were willing to hang in there with me.
Rigor, rigor, rigor. This is one word that sums up what comprised our year. One concept that took my students a little while to master was citing textual evidence. They always wanted to go straight to the answer without having to tell why. We worked on this all year. By the end of the year, I can honestly say they began to get it. My students were pushed to dig deeper and cite more than they have ever had to do in the past. When our test scored came back, we were all jumping for joy at the results. They had aced that test, and I couldn't have been more proud of them and all of their hard work.
How has your classroom or teaching changed due to the implementation of the Common Core Standards?
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Have a fabulous weekend!