What would you tell the world about the #CommonCore and your classroom?

by Kevin M. Gill used under Creative Commons lic

Your ears may have been ringing as I am find myself quoting posts from the blog-a-thon continuously, “…that Fran McVeigh post, wow it got me thinking….”.

All of this got me thinking, so I’m trying a little experiment here…

Whenever I present at speaking engagements I bring research, my firsthand experience in classrooms, and the ideas of fellow educators I talk and work alongside.  Over the next few weeks I have several large keynotes coming up (dates are at the end of this post) talking Common Core State Standards myths and opportunities.

In each of these I plan to bring what I always bring, but I am thinking I would love to bring bits of your experiences, too.

Educators in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa), for example, will largely attend from American curriculum schools. They are brand new to looking at the CCSS and also not held by the testing machine we have here. What would you tell them about the pitfalls to avoid or the joyful teaching you are doing?

At UW-Madison, anyone anywhere will tune in because it will be live and live-streamed. What do you want to tell the public about the changes in your school, both the overwhelming and the fascinating?

by One Way Stock used under Creative Commons lic

This is completely an experiment, usually everything I gather is from face-to-face with kids and educators, but twitter and our blog-a-thon has changed my sense of what is possible when educators are connected. I’d like to bring your knowledge and experiences to others.

So here’s my pitch:

With your permission, I’d love to include some of your voices in these upcoming speaking engagements.  Send your anecdotes, links, images, that you would like me to consider sharing in a few ways: as comments on this post, via my twitter handle, or to this email: iChrisLehman(at)gmail with the subject line “Talking Common Core”. For student work or photos you would like to send, I will send you a parent/guardian permission slip to be completed before use.

I’m especially collecting experiences around three themes:

  • “We are tired…” take this as either physically/emotionally tired because of X, Y, Z or action-oriented as “I am tired of being told…. when actually my students…. see look!”  These could be bashing or supportive or somewhere in the middle.  Such as “I am tired of everyone saying students can’t write, when my team and I studied the CCSS together and really made an effort to teach skills not just assign work we found…” or “I am tired of being told some texts are worthy and others are not, I find in my classroom that…”
  • “There is no one way…” I think it’s important to both critique those promising the “ANSWER TO EVERYTHING” comes from the CCSS and to critique those comparing it to “THE END OF DAYS.” One essential point I continue to raise is that everyone’s experience with “implementation” is not the same. Yes, there are classrooms that are forced into a one-size-fits-all approach (please share those stories) but there are equally classrooms and schools that are using the standards as a study while still holding onto the practices they love and work well for students (share those, too).
  • “Our students are our curriculum…” What are ways you are helping your students drive your instruction? This could be “data” in an overwhelming way, or inventions you and your colleagues are making to gather usable assessments, or ways you continue to reach beyond the standards, or anything else.
  • Your inspiration, challenges, solutions, and so on!

So again, if any ideas speak to you I’d love anecdotes, links, anything that you would share with other educators about your experiences. I’ll weave many into these upcoming speaking engagements.

It would be great to see you in person at any of these events as well. Also, the UW-Madison event is free and streamed-live, registration is at the link below.

 October 25, Cleveland, OH. Invited Keynote. Cleveland State University’s Annual Reading Conference: “Growing Literacy from the Core.” Register: here.

November 1-2, Dubai, UAE. “MENA Common Core Conference.” Invited Keynote and Session Speaker. Register:here.

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November 5-6, New Orleans, LA. The Leadership and Learning Center’s “Common Core State Standards Summit 2.0: Getting Ready for the Next Generation Assessments,” Invited Keynote and Panelist. Register:here.

November 20, Madison, WI. Evening Invited Keynote during the University Wisconsin-Madison’s American Educators Week. FREE registration to attend live or online: here.

10 thoughts on “What would you tell the world about the #CommonCore and your classroom?

  1. Our students drive our instruction and the pathway to achieve the CCSS is by engaging them and inspiring them to care about their learning and wonder about their world, asking and answering complex and meaningful questions. We need to teach our students the skills to navigate a world full of information and easy access to facts and the CCSS are a mandate to teach those skills.

  2. Chris,

    To begin, I am honored and humbled to be quoted as making you think in your post. I believe that thinking has to precede change.

    I appreciate your knowledge and graciousness. Your introduction of yourself at TCRWP, because you knew me from Twitter, has been an example that I use in my work to explain why educators need to use Twitter.

    Thank you for the invitation to provide input/answers for your work.

    We are tired of non-educators villifying the Common Core Standards. Educators across 45 states are openly sharing ideas, increasing their knowledge of the skills needed for students, and working very long and very hard to provide quality instruction for ALL students everywhere ! That truly is the gold in the CCSS work!

    There is no one way for instruction in “close reading” or “rigor” or any other word or phrase that is taken out of the context of the CCSS Standards.

    Our students are our curriculum. Quality assessments for student learning should not be intrusive, but should be a mirror of instruction, and therefore only used as a lens to provide further information about how to best enhance student learning.

    🙂 Waiting for the UPS truck to deliver your book from Amazon!

  3. What I’d tell the world about the Common Core: No matter what the standards are, our focus is still on our students. Not all of our students have been educated with such high standards as these and by doing so, we are working together as a community of teachers and learners to build upon what our students already know and are able to do so they can become more productive and college and career ready.

    • Look at Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter to find creative ideas of how to use objects in useful ways. Tires become planters. Candy containers become a filing system. It’s the age-old question of, “Is it partly sunny, or is it partly cloudy?” When I see creative crafts with unconventional materials, I think, “That’s someone who saw the sunshine instead of the clouds.” Whether it’s the CCSS or anything else, one must look at the sunshine instead of the clouds.

      The sunny rays I see from the CCSS are ones that promote student-driven inquiry. It begs them to ask about the world around, stoking a burning desire to find answers and then steps out their way as they run to chase down answers to meaningful questions through research reading, observation and collaboration. They reflect upon their answers, and when ready, they’ll write (in a variety of ways and modes) to share their discoveries with an intended audience. And while students collaborate, read and write I can work with them on skills they need to become even better collaborators, readers and writers. They’ll gladly do it because the CCSS have asked them to ask and answer their own questions. What a ray of sunshine!

      Some say the CCSS are limiting and being forced. But I see their sunshine. A sunshine that lights a path of student-driven learning – even if I direct students in a general direction to start. No matter what standards or methods we have, we must help students grow. Rather than grumbling about the clouds, I want to see what innovative ideas people have – like the ones collected on Pinterest, Facebook and other social media collection sites.

      Chris Conohan

      • Here’s an anecdotal example:

        Recently I took students on a hike at a local park. It’s a park that has connections to all kinds of history and science of our state, in addition to agriculture, animals and geology. Students recorded questions and photos with devices they brought or in their notebooks. Upon our return to the classroom, students couldn’t get to their research fast enough. They had to find answers to their questions.

        Once I knew where their interests were, I was able to incorporate stories and informational texts to teach them how to comprehend their sources. We wrote discovery drafts of what we found, close read short articles with goals in mind, analyzed characters who lived on the land and questioned their roles and motives. Students collaborated without me asking.

        They naturally started blogging, creating PowerPoints and writing on paper about what they learned so they could share it with others. That was an opportunity to teach writing skills that would help them share their message.

        We didn’t need one single text book to start. The reading, writing and collaboration were authentic. Students learned content in a way that is meaningful to them. CCSS afford us these kinds of opportunities.

        Chris Conohan


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