Digging Into the Common Core

By Ruth Manna on September 16, 2011
  • Grades: 3–5

What do we all have in common this year?

The Common Core State Standards. Because these new standards are being implemented nationwide, we're all in this together. We'll have opportunities to read and reflect together on what we teach as we get familiar with these new guiding documents. Read on to learn about activities our district teachers are planning to help us get acquainted with the math standards.

 

CommonCoreZilla[1] STANDARDS FOR MATHEMATICAL PRACTICE (SMP)

The Standards for Mathematical Practice (SMP) are new and unique to the Common Core. These eight habits of mind are explicitly taught every year, beginning in kindergarten. The SMP are unifying threads meant to be woven into lessons and communicated in behavioral expectations throughout the year.

 

 

 

In the box below, you'll see a summary of the Standards for Mathematical Practice.

3355027 We're planning to work with these standards at a PLC or faculty meeting. During the session, we'll group teachers by grade level at tables with paper, pencils, and colored markers. Working with an expanded, three-page version of the SMP, each group will read and rewrite the standards so that they're kid-friendly and developmentally appropriate for their grade level.

Then we'll post eight pieces of chart paper. Each grade will copy their version of the SMP onto a piece of chart paper using a different colored marker (green for kindergarten, blue for grade 1, etc.). We'll read the rewritten standards together and discuss connections among the grades in the ways teachers see the SMP.

Another idea for working with the SMP is to take a sample lesson from a math textbook and explain what standard would fit that lesson and why.

 

CONTENT STANDARDS

The standards we're more familiar with are the math content standards with their specific student objectives. For these, we're planning a Beginning-Middle-End activity. Again, teachers will work with grade level colleagues. Before the exercise, several grade level standards will be preselected for each grade. Teachers will be asked to read the standards and search through the Common Core to determine if their grade is the first grade, one of the middle grades, or the last grade to teach a particular standard. We want teachers to discover that there's less repetition in these content standards, which means they'll need to teach certain standards to mastery.

Since July we've been working on a correlation of our math texts and the Common Core content standards. Of course we could just use the correlation our publisher provides, but matching lessons to standards helps us get to know the standards. To do this, we copied the table of contents from the teacher's editions of the texts. Teachers work in pairs, one with a copy of the table of contents and a pen and the other with a teacher's edition. Both have copies of the standards. Skimming through the teacher's edition, they match one standard to each lesson, highlighting the standards as they go. Hopefully by the end of the project all the standards will have been highlighted.

Comment below with ideas and activities you've used to become familiar with the new Common Core.

 

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED: Our School District and Hurricane Irene

Our rural Western Massachusetts communities were hard hit by flooding during Hurricane Irene. We had to delay the opening of school for several days. One school is currently being housed in another, already full school building. 

20126-hurricane-irene-in-western-mass-78d9f[1]

The photo above shows the Deerfield River in Shelburne Falls during the storm. The swollen rivers and streams washed out roads and washed away homes, businesses, cars, farm equipment, and animals. Some of our students and staff lost their homes.

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To the right, National Guard vehicles parked next to the track and football field at Mohawk Trail Regional High School. Our high school housed the National Guard for five days. These vehicles are huge, which you can't appreciate from this distance.

 

 

 

 

 

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Now FEMA operates a disaster recovery center out of our high school. All our schools have collected food and other supplies for families in our communities. It's been a rough start to the school year, but students, parents, and staff have all been flexible and resilient.

 

 

 

 

Comments

Standards for Math Practice are important in school and in life. Consider #6, "Attend to Precision." Whether a student grows up to be a bus driver, Marine, carpenter, dentist,or physician, attending to precision is important and can, in some cases, save lives. And #3, "Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others." This practice is equally important in History, Science, and English classes, as well as in the adult world of work. Knowing how to construct a viable argument is an asset in negotiating a contract, defending a client, and talking with a teenager. It's a life skill.

Why standards are important in life or education?

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