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Common Core Corner


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Common Core math instruction is well under way this year. With the help of the SWUN math program, teachers are doing more than just showing students how to solve algorithms. They are developing number sense in our students so that they better understand the math behind the algorithm. By requiring students to practice a variety of strategies for solving math problems, teachers are developing students’ flexible math reasoning.  By requiring them to explain their thinking, teachers are developing students’ conceptual understanding of math, not just their procedural skill.

All of this means that the math you see coming home will look different than math from previous years. You may not be able to help your students with this work. That is okay. Teachers need to see what students know and can do and their individual completion of homework is one tool for assessing what needs to be retaught. The best way to help your student with math is to ask them to explain to you what they are doing. Getting them to explain their thinking helps them to clarify it. Please follow this link to a Vimeo that has a great explanation of the why behind the shift in math instruction.



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At first glance, the literacy instruction I see in our classrooms each day does not look much different from what I might have seen two years ago. If I look at that instruction through the lens of the new Common Core Literacy Standards though, I can see the strengthened focus on non-fiction text, the greater demand that students use evidence from the text to support their inferences, an increased use of academic language, and the heightened importance of writing.

The district began its move toward Common Core implementation by focusing first on the literacy standards. Two years ago teachers met in grade-level teams to study the new standards and create a curriculum map of these standards. This past summer the district brought the Columbia Teachers’ College Writer’s Project to Burlingame, both purchasing their Common Core aligned writing curriculum and training teachers on how to implement it in their classrooms. This has led to more time spent by students generating writing by following the writing process. Last year at Lincoln teachers learned how to develop close reading lessons and write text-dependent questions to support students’ understanding of complex texts.

The video below describes the main shifts in literacy instruction required by the Common Core. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns about these shifts and their impact on what and how your student is learning.