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Common-Core Classroom Strategies: Teacher Ideas

Toby Rothstein Gruber, Eye On Education's Director of Professional Services and the moderator of Eye On Education's professional development webinars.

The Common Core is getting a lot of attention these days. Teachers are feeling the pressure now more than ever to prepare their students for the real world using the standards. Some are feeling overwhelmed, while others are tackling this challenge head-on.

Eye On Education’s Senior Editor and former classroom teacher, Lauren Davis, addressed these concerns by presenting a webinar on five shifts that should be happening in every classroom to ensure student success. They include: (1) increasing text complexity, (2) leading high-level class discussions, (3) teaching argument over persuasion, (4) focusing on process, not just content, and (5) creating authentic assignments.

During the event, teachers shared some of the great things they are already doing to make these shifts happen. Here are some of their suggestions.

Increase Text Complexity:

  • Try pairing readings, one at the student’s Lexile level to help develop background knowledge and introduce vocabulary. Then have students read more complex text with your support.
  • Lecture isn’t all bad. Lecture can be used to assist understanding for auditory learners. The students need to learn to be good listeners to help them learn to read.
  • I work with kids Pre-K -3rd grade and we use a four square activity where we write the word, give a student-friendly definition, give an example of what it is, and give an example of what it isn't.
  • Use Interactive Notebooks for learning new vocabulary. My kids keep a spiral notebook — left side of every page is for LEARNING (input information — notes etc.) and right side is for REFLECTION (output — work based on the notes from the left). Another example: On the right-hand side of the page students summarize, clarify, predict, and pose questions. On the left-hand side, they can draw a picture, write a “What if?” or “I remember when…” or pull newspaper or magazine articles that relate to material on right.

Lead High-Level Class Discussions

  • Science teachers, try—especially for chemistry. Great group discussions.
  • You can also have a few students be the “observers” of good talk in the classroom during a part of the lesson. They can create the dialogue map and collect data on patterns of speaking and listening and report back to class what they find. Good for building critical literacy.

Teach Argument Over Persuasion

Focus on Process, Not Just Content

  • It's pretty easy to focus on why and who, but the how is the really important aspect of learning that allows transfer of skills.
  • Learning how to process gives students thinking they'll use in all of life.

Create Authentic Assignments

  • Check out the PACE model lesson plan — focuses on discovery-based learning.
  • I had my A.P. students create a PowerPoint for next year's class on how to prepare and be successful in the classroom. I will be using this in September when the new students enter.
  • Consider inquiry-based teaching and learning approaches.

One final thought: As you align your curriculum to meet the Common Core State Standards, remember the bigger picture and that your purpose is to give students the skills needed to be successful both in school and beyond.


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