Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Common Core Unit Revision Training - Or How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I had the opportunity to work on revising the Common Core Units that our district has developed last week.  I was assigned to 4th grade math.  The workshops were set up with a morning training followed by several hours of work time in our teams.  I learned so much and came back with a lot of great takeaways from both the trainers (we worked with West Ed) and my teammates. I wanted to share some of the things I learned as well as some of the things that I am chewing on for my own teaching practices this year.

Our training was kicked off by our Curriculum and Accountability Director.  She gave a mini-pep talk to get us ready to begin the work. (She had been the principal at the school where I first worked as a teacher and I LOVE her)!  She told us that she wanted us to start looking at the state tests not as an end all be all, but rather a snapshot in time of student performance.  She compared it to taking a blood pressure test.  You could prepare for that blood pressure test right before your appointment (by taking deep breaths, relaxing, etc.), but it would not have nearly the effect that exercising and eating healthy all year would have on the results.  She told us to look at the tests that way - if we provide the right instruction, the test results should match.  We shouldn't focus on last minute test prep, but rather long term maintenance.

The trainers showed this Dan Meyer TED talk which I had seen (and used) as a 7th grade math teacher, but I had never looked at it under the lenses of an elementary teacher.  I got to thinking, I could really apply the same ideas and concepts to teach problem solving to younger students as well.

They also showed this video on the second day.  It really made us pause and we changed up several of the units we had started.

 We decided to integrate standards throughout rather than following a model that resembled text books with each standard taught separately.  I am really excited about the changes, and I can't wait to share how I implement it in the classroom next year!

If you would like to see the old units that we were revising you can find them below:

Lyon County Units

The new versions have not been posted yet, but I will let you know when they are finished!  Fourth grade is going to be dramatically different!

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