Welcome to our
We hope to share with one another how teachers from preschool through high school are using the Common Core State Standards from all across the Bluegrass State. We
would like to invite you to tell us how you are shifting the focus, coherence, and rigor in your classroom.
November 28, 2015 (from the Courier Journal)
Kentucky’s mathematical standards are mimicking these higher-leveled environments, deepening the contextual understanding of numbers and equations. Proficiency in these skills plays an imperative role when it comes to preparing all students for a successful education, whether they chose to pursue a further interest in the subject or not.
Middle school math teacher Andrew Beaver shares examples of how Common Core State Standards have have changed the way he collaborate with colleagues and teaches students.
Submitted 8/25/15 by Andrew Beaver
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have revolutionized the way I collaborate with my colleagues and teach my students. I am beginning my 7th year as a math teacher at a middle school in Louisville, Kentucky that has 93% free and reduced lunch, 18% ECE, 18% ESL, and about 50% of students test below grade level in reading and math. In my first couple years of teaching, a professional learning community (PLC) was a team of teachers that taught the same students that I taught. Our PLC was mostly focused on disciplinary issues and procedures such as dress code, classroom transitions, and discipline plans. During my first couple years of teaching I did most of my planning by myself. I almost never discussed interventions, assessments, or standards with other math teachers. When it came to teaching content I focused on the curriculum we were teaching, not the state standards needed to be taught.
In the past three years my focus as a teacher has shifted from collaboration primarily being about behavior to collaboration being about intentional planning. Today, my PLC is comprised of the 8th grade math teachers, ECE and ESL collaborative and resource teachers, and administrators experienced in math that provide support. Our PLC meets twice a week and we have use CCSS as a tool for developing a progression of standards and creating interventions. We no longer focus on one specific curriculum, but look at the standards and develop a curriculum from multiple textbooks and online resources.
When our PLC develops a unit of study we begin by determining the key standards for the unit from CCSS. Then, we identify a progression of learning targets for our current unit of study that tie to CCSS. For example, our first unit in 8th grade math is about writing linear equations. When my colleagues and I developed the series of learning targets for this unit we first identified that students need to understand basic algebraic vocabulary, one and two step equations, and how to combine like terms. We referred to the standards from 6th and 7th grade to determine the prior knowledge students learned and began our learning targets by reviewing those standards. We continued to create a progression of learning targets designed to help students be proficient in writing linear equations by the end of the unit. CCSS is very helpful in this process because the standards are designed to clearly show the progression from grade to grade. Our team of teachers can develop a logical and coherent progression of topics by referring to prior standards from prior grades.
In our PLCs CCSS is also used as a way for us to track student data and design interventions for our students. After our PLC develops a progression of learning targets, we write a common formative assessment (CFA) together to assess the standards in the unit. We develop at least three questions for each standard being assessed and we also develop basic, intermediate, and word problem questions for each standard. The CFAs are our primary data tool for tracking student progress. Students also track their mastery of standards individually. Once a week we have an intervention class during our planning where our PLC pulls between fifteen and twenty-five students who are all struggling on the same standard. We work to find new learning strategies to reteach the standard such as kinesthetic activities and use multiple online resources such as Engage New York and Kahn Academy. CCSS provides us with a framework for monitoring student progress and identifying interventions throughout the year.
CCSS has greatly benefitted my ability to impact student achievement because the standards help me organize the content students need to learn, student prior knowledge, and student progression throughout the year. Before the adoption of CCSS, I focused mostly on teaching a set curriculum. Now I collaborate with my peers to develop a curriculum from multiple sources to teach CCSS. As a result I am a much more intentional teacher; focusing on what students need to know in order to achieve mastery on a standard.
Andrew Beaver Teaches Middle School in Kentucky
A Kentucky teacher explains what the CCSS Math Shifts mean for classroom materials by Jana Bryant
July 28, 2015 (from Achieve the Core)
The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics have delivered on the promise to provide math teachers in the United States standards that are clear, specific, and focused. As I support the implementation of the Math Standards within my district, I look for three major changes that are happening within our planning of lessons and units, daily teaching practices, and assessment of students – all of which are guided by our materials.