A Common Core Teacher's Toolbox!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Common Core Reading Formula!

    When I started this blog, my whole intention was to post things that teachers could add to their "Common Core Toolbox" as many of us are shifting into the CCSS at the same time. As I learn more about Common Core, I've been trying to created things to help me make shift in my own classroom and in turn pass them on to you. This week I attended a very in depth Common Core ELA training. So I thought I should share with you some of the things I learned!

   It always feels good when you already do certain things in your class, and you go to a professional development training and are basically "taught" to do what you are already doing. A lot of the things I "learned" this week are things we as teachers already know. However, with so many different programs out there and curriculum shifts, we often times left in limbo about what to teach and how to teach it.  I created a simple little poster for your Common Core Toolbox that simply details the Common Core Formula for Reading Comprehension(which is something we all already know).
      Common Core puts the emphasis in the lower grades on being sure the students have basic foundational readings skills so that by the time they leave 3rd grade they CAN read. The idea behind the formula above, is basically that if one piece of the puzzle is missing, then reading comprehension can't be accomplished. By 3rd grade print concepts and phonological awareness are no longer listed in the standards (Assuming students be past needing those foundational skills).  By 3rd grade, the idea is that the students are reaching a place where they can read both fluently and for comprehension.

      The language comprehension component consists of Vocabulary development, speaking &listening to clarify and show comprehension of information, participation & collaboration in diverse groups, and presentation of knowledge . There is a huge emphasis on students solely using the evidence from text they read to answer questions, gather information,and show comprehension. This is a shift from our usual way of focusing on building  a student's background knowledge. Of course, as teachers we know we will still build background knowledge as needed. However, the CCSS focuses on students delving deep into what that are reading, and breaking apart the text.. The idea is that students will build their knowledge from the texts they read  (I.E. Close Reading, which I'll mention more in a later post). Also, 50 percent of the reading should come from complex nonfiction texts. I'm going to focus quite a bit this year on integrating science and social studies as part of my RLA block. This will be a time where students will be working in groups to work on the various components of language comprehension.

   The "I do- we do- you do" phrase came up a lot during our trainings. This is something I already do, but it did feel good to hear that is the idea behind teaching the standards. I've gone back and forth with how I teach reading. I've done a little bit of everything out there as far as literacy stations, grouping, etc. The last couple of years, I've found myself naturally falling into the "I-do, we-do-you do" sort of set up for teaching reading. Meaning, that I meet with my students for a mini lesson as a whole group. Then they break up into groups/pairs/individuals etc to work on that particular skill/activity. It is during that time I pull students into small groups or individually on a as need basis. I should mention, I do have "book clubs" that work in conjunction with my reading instruction as well.  Personally for me, I have found this to be the most effective use of my and my students learning time. I'm not saying literacy stations/centers are bad, and never should be used. I personally have just found this is the best way for me to differenitate and met the needs of all students, while still being sure the standards are being taught in a timely manner. It was refreshing to hear that this type of instruction is encouraged with the CCSS.
Here is a quote from the TN Common Core Site:
 "Instruction should be differentiated: good readers will need much less practice with these concepts than struggling readers will. The point is to teach students what they need to learn and not what they already know—to discern when particular children or activities warrant more or less attention."
    In my particular teaching setting, I will have very few students coming to me on grade level. Therefore, only a couple may have already mastered any of the 3rd grade standards. That is why the "I-do,we-do-, you do" lessons as a whole class are essential.  The book clubs are students are placed in allow me to better met their individual needs, and those groups are ever changing. I may only have a few that really need phonics instruction, so their book club will cater those needs. There is no need to create a whole station/center for all the students to rotate through, when only a few may need that instruction. As teachers a lot of this seems like common sense, but once again we have so many things pushed on us, I think we forget sometimes we just need to get back to the basics of teaching .

   There is still so much to learn about the CCSS standards.However,I feel the ELA standards will be the easiest to implement, as they are putting the focus on the basics of reading. So for that, I think we can all breath a sigh of relief. I have many, many more things I learned this week to help you out with your CCSS RLA transition. Look for more post, and freebies for you Common Core Toolbox coming soon!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

It's Currenlty July...Already?!

Wow, where does the time go?! Serioulsy?! I swear this blog isn't meant to be here simply for the Farley's Currently linkup! I just seem to only think about getting back to blogging once I realize, "Oh it's a new month".  I'm going to have my students do weekly blog updates about the happenings in our classroom, once school starts back. That will turn this little ole' blog into something worth reading then!

Now for  my July Currently..........

Listening- My daughter is currently having engaging two of her stuffed bunnies in a conversation. If I only could figure out what these little bunnies are saying to each other! It's amazing to watch a 2 year old's little imagination at work!

Loving- I can't say enough how I love having all this time off with my daughter.  I miss so much time with her during the school year, especially on the days I come home exhausted.  It sure will make going back to work hard.

Thinking- We were blessed to be able to take a 2 week vacation this summer, thanks to my hard working hubby earning a bonus week of vacation. We just came back, and I'm already planning our next little trips! Planning is almost as much fun as the trips themselves, so you can bet I'm always planning to go somewhere!

Wanting/Needing-  These two coincide together. I have a huge Summer To-Do list that involves school stuff and personal stuff. In conjunction with that, we have our family Summer Bucket List. We've been crossing things off the bucket list left and right, while the to-do list has been put on a back burner! If I could afford a personal assistant, I would put him/her right to work on that To-Do List for me. Oh, well I wouldn't trade crossing off things on my family's little Summer Bucket List for the world, so I'll just be playing catch-up. I have 2 different trainings over the next two weeks. That should get me into "work" mode!

Tips/Tricks/Hints- Well obviously I shouldn't be giving blogging tips, since technically I don't really blog. However, I love this quote " It is better to fail in originality, than to succeed in imitation. "  That quote really applies to life, not just blogging. As a teacher, I think we can learn so much for one another. So share some of your originality with the world!