Being Clear about the Common Core, Clarified

Note: This is a revised and updated version of a previous post. The gist of the article remains the same. Information about standards revisions and transitions has been updated.

The Common Core State Learning Standards are standards. Not curriculum. Not tests. Not evaluation. Standards.

Standards are the “to do” list for learning. They are a list of the things we want students to know, understand, be able to do, and be like. In 1996, New York State issued a complete set of standards for all subject areas and grade levels. There were twenty-three sets of standards that were organized into seven bundles. For example, math, science, and technology were grouped together in a bundle of seven standards (and the accompanying detail). Similarly, Health, Physical Education and Family and Consumer Science were bundled together. Continue reading

A Beautiful Day

Anyone who knows me knows that, despite having been off the air since 2001, Mr. Fred Rogers, (of the esteemed Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to those of us who remember), still holds a place of honor in my family. He is a native of Latrobe, PA, which is a mere 40 miles from the greatest place on earth (Pittsburgh, PA for my fellow Pirates and Steelers fans). My daughter has watched every episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, despite having been born five years after the last show aired. I’m continually fascinated by how relevant his topics continue to be. I still vividly remember Mr. Rogers’ trip to the crayon factory. I remember what he had to say about divorce, getting a new sibling, moving to a new town. Continue reading

Teaching Social Studies = Do Do That (Historical Thinking) Voodoo You Do So Well*

I recently had the opportunity to spend a day learning from Dr. Sam Wineburg from Stanford University and his work with historical thinking and the Reading Like a Historian curriculum materials from the Stanford History Education Group. I was first introduced to his research and these materials when I began as Project Director for the Teaching American History Grant. We used his book, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past (Wineburg 2001) as an introduction to the idea that understanding history is more than just knowing “stuff” (as my youngest son so eloquently labeled it). Historical thinking involves…well, involvement! It means involving ourselves and our students in the type of thinking that historians routinely do around primary and secondary sources; involving ourselves and our students in questioning and writing and debating and sharing information and basing their interpretations on evidence from the sources; and involving ourselves and our students in the messy work of understanding history which leads to the messy but critical work of being a citizen. Continue reading

“Savor the Flavor of Eating Right”…..

…..is this year’s theme for National Nutrition Month®. For over 30 years, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has sponsored this annual month-long campaign in March to refocus the American public’s attention on the basics of eating healthy. This year’s particular theme was created to remind us all to:

  • develop mindful eating patterns for ourselves and our families;
  • think beyond what we eat and also consider the how, when, why and where; and
  • encourage us to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives.

Continue reading

Confidence… Another Success Skill

As teachers of exceptional learners facilitate learning in a Project-Based Learning culture, there is continuous opportunity for reflection around instruction. Not a coaching session goes by without me hearing the following: “How much are they really getting?” “Are they grasping the content and concepts?” Is inquiry truly a path they can follow?” “Am I breaking it down enough?”   We question too, our students who express themselves differently. We look into their eyes and we listen as they tap out responses, wondering how we might give Voice and Choice where there is none. Continue reading

Will Someone Please Just Tell Us What to Do? Curriculum, Core Programs and Collaboration

It is March of the year 2016. It doesn’t seem possible when you really sit down and think about it. It was over four years ago when we first started looking at the Common Core ELA Standards and asking ourselves questions and challenging our understandings of how we make standards come to life in our classrooms. I was in a public school district at the time and we were wrestling with questions like:

  • Are standards and curriculum the same thing? If not, what’s the difference?
  • How do we go about figuring out what stays and what goes from what we currently do?
  • Do we adopt, adapt or ignore the modules?
  • Do we really have the time and level of expertise needed to write our own curriculum?
  • What are other districts doing?

Ultimately, we landed on this one question… Continue reading

The Excitement of the Endless Quest


S. Ossokine , A. Buonanno /W. Benger via NPR.org

What is our quest as science educators? What is the quest of scientists? What are the science learning quests of students? How are they similar?

The recent detection of gravitational waves proved Einstein’s theory that was postulated in 1916. This detection was a very big deal in the science community. Scientists are on a tenacious, never ending quest to Continue reading