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Teacher Shares Positive Experience With Common Core

Teacher Shares Positive Experience With Common Core

When former middle-school teacher Lucy Boyd told her colleagues that she spent her summer creating a new Common Core-alligned curriculum, many eyebrows were raised. 

"In the often heated national debate over the Common Core, opponents have cast the standards as a threat to teacher autonomy and students’ intellectual creativity," Boyd said in her recent article on EducationNext.org. "The result is a public perception that there is very little wiggle room for teachers in choosing what to present in their classrooms. My experience as a lead lesson planner reveals that perception to be a false one."

Boyd shares in her article her positive experience crafting lesson plans aligned with the standards, and offers teachers tips on how to do so in their own classroom.

"During my summer planning, I kept the Common Core standards next to me while I dove deeply into the novels and nonfiction works we would be reading in 7th-grade English the next year," Boyd said. "The texts themselves were chosen by the leadership of my charter school network, Uncommon Schools, with guidance from both the Common Core text-selection criteria and the network’s own curricular team The lesson plan sequence, questioning, activities, close reading passages, schema, and focuses were up to me and my co-teacher."

Boyd said the Common Core standards "served as a helpful resource", and Boyd and her co-teacher "looked at essay questions from the English literature Advanced Placement tests to see where students would need to be in four or five short years."

"Once our lesson plans were finalized, all the grade-level teachers were asked to compose, using key vocabulary and concepts from each unit, 'ideal student responses' to serve as measures of student comprehension based on participation in class discussions," she said. "Such tools ensure that students are not only being taught according to the Common Core standards, but that they are learning according to them, too."

When she was finished, Boyd said she "felt confident about the lessons we had created, but knew this meant nothing if they did not resonate with the students."

"When preparing to teach 7th graders about dramatic irony and iambic pentameter, a teacher will naturally wonder, will this be too hard for them?" she asked. "A teacher’s worst nightmare is to look out across a room to see the blank faces of students who are completely perplexed."

Boyd found that the answer was "no" to her question of the curriculum being "too hard" for her students after a student excelled during a lesson examining The Pearl by John Steinbeck.

"Moments like these by no means prove that the Common Core standards are perfect, nor do they account for other influences on students’ learning," Boyd said. "But as a teacher, I have found the Common Core standards to be an instrumental guide for constructing lessons that will challenge and engage my students."

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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