A few weeks ago I read about a couple of leaders who after having agreed to adopting the Common Core are now backing away. I tend to stay away from the Common Core politics and focus on the work of transforming educator practice instead, so I closed the screen and moved on. I couldn’t help but wonder though, “Why would leaders agree to adopt the standards, then later back away?”
On Friday I received a text from an administrator that I coach. She shared a picture of student work in a class she observed. The teacher was addressing the following standard:
CCSS.Math.Content.5.NF.A.2 Solve word problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions referring to the same whole, including cases of unlike denominators, e.g., by using visual fraction models or equations to represent the problem. Use benchmark fractions and number sense of fractions to estimate mentally and assess the reasonableness of answers. For example, recognize an incorrect result 2/5 + 1/2 = 3/7, by observing that 3/7 < 1/2.
The teacher’s objective was the following:
Students will make visualizations of word problems to conceptualize and solve multiplication and division problems.
Now examine the student work that was texted to me:
There are a number of issues, but I’ll only mention 3.
- The definition of a mathematical model and the expectation for visualization were unclear. This was apparent as the administrator exclaimed in her text to me, “This is a storyboard!”
- The student was unclear about dimensions. The bamboo plant was described as 6.1 feet tall, yet the plant is shorter than the character in the picture.
- The teacher praised the student for succeeding by saying “Excellent!”
Reflecting on this lesson caused me to remember the leaders who are backing away from what they agreed to adopt. I wondered if backing away was related to apprehension about the mix of educator preparation and accountability.
I’m still unclear, I remain nonjudgemental and instead move on to the business of transforming practice.
Last week I offered 3 steps for a long-term sustainable approach to prepare principals to lead the core and teachers to teach the core. I now want to take a step back to offer a challenge before engaging in the 3 steps.
THE CHALLENGE: Determine the Level of Alignment to Plan for Appropriate and Differentiated Professional Learning Opportunities. Accomplish this by doing the following:
- Use this table to collect classroom observation data on standard alignment for 1 week
- Analyze the data to determine the professional learning differentiation needs
- Use The Core Deconstructed process as you apply last week’s 3 steps
Remember, poor lesson planning means students learn poorly. Aligned learning means the standard, objective and activities agree. Get clear about the standard by breaking it down so it can be rebuilt in the mind of the student.
(A note: whether or not the Common Core is adopted, the question still remains–are objectives and learning activities aligned to the State standards?)
Remove apprehension, increase confidence and move toward the Common Core with The Core Deconstructed.