Saturday, September 7, 2013

Welcome!


Welcome to the new Core2Class blog! A little about me: I have held a variety of different educational positions—teacher, K-8 principal, university instructor, teacher supervisor, presenter, and consultant.  I have a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Supervision from the University of Iowa (I spent most of my time one floor below where really smart people develop the ITBS).  However, my time as a principal taught me more about schools than any advanced degree ever did. 

I started Core2Class in early 2012 after spending about 6 months reading and studying the Common Core ELA Standards and new assessments.  During this period, I also spent a good deal of time holding up the new standards and tests to those that we currently use in Indiana.  According to the “experts,” Indiana has a first-rate set of ELA Standards.  I agree.  What few seem to acknowledge is the mitigating effects of our mediocre state assessment.  More on this important point in a future blog.

During the past year or so, I have worked with hundreds of teachers and administrators (and presented in front of lots of mostly sensible parents) from all over the state of Indiana, many working in our fine Archdiocesan Catholic schools.  While I’m sure I’ve ruffled a few feathers here and there, my intent has been (and, with this blog, will continue to be) to approach CCSS implementation and PARCC/Smarter Balanced preparation with an earnestness that reflects the exciting curriculum and instruction opportunities that have fueled this reform movement.

For those of us who believe that teaching is more than just about loving kids, these CCSS “shifts” we keep reading and hearing about hold great promise for how we approach teaching and learning.  Having said this, I’m growing increasingly wary (and weary!) of the “business as usual” approach underscoring many of the Common Core implementation efforts I’ve heard and read about.  “Alignment” initiatives, “crosswalk” documents and standards “checklists” (often promulgated in the form of standards-based report cards) threaten to undermine the real value of Common Core ELA.  Moreover, I think we are over-debating certain questions (e.g. what percentage of time teachers should spend teaching literary vs. informational texts) at the expense of addressing those issues that directly impact what goes on in the classroom (e.g. the potential impact of a high quality text on how a unit is designed).  Chester Finn has it exactly right: Standards “unless thoroughly implemented and properly assessed have scant traction in schools, classrooms, and the lives—and futures—of students.”  I hope this blog can be one perspective about how effective CCSS implementation efforts might take place.

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