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Managing the Race to the Top

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I’m gearing up for a winter and spring filled with different instructional coaching experiences. I’m looking forward to this more than any other work I’ve been involved with so far this year because kids will finally be involved. In most of the schools that I am working in, we have spent more than a year wrapping our heads around Race to the Top, exploring the Common Core Learning Standards, and defining what the six shifts…

David Coleman’s mock lesson relevant to King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail offers initial perspective about what instruction with the Common Core might look like. It also raises some important questions, which many of the teachers that I am working with raised throughout our unit design sessions this fall. The teachers that I am working with are eager to know what the six instructional shifts will look like in their classrooms with their students. Some are…

Recently, I created a landing page for all of the posts that I’ve been sharing relevant to my work with the Common Core. I plan to update it at the end of each week, as my work inside of local school districts continues and my reflections on that work unfold. You can find the archives here, linked within a larger narrative that summarizes my process so far. This week, I’ll be sharing a bit about…

As we’re preparing to engage classrooms full of kids in the shared reading of sufficiently complex text, the teachers that I am working with have made some predictions about the challenges¬†they might face. They want to handle them as pro-actively as possible, so their instructional planning is attending to these hunches. For instance: We predict that all readers may experience increased levels of frustration as they begin confronting curricula and immersing themselves in resources that…

In addition to learning what we can about the art of close reading, teachers that I am working with are also finding their study of the following very helpful as they plan to implement the third instructional shift underpinning the Common Core: Jim Burke’s text, The English Teacher’s Companion (which my former grad students will remember fondly), his work relevant to teaching with questions, and his use of sentence frames (which he touches on in…

As we’ve begun examining each of the six instructional shifts called for by the Common Core, teachers have shared their own stories, often times lingering over many details that support the call for such changes. For instance, we know that many readers are struggling to access grade-level text. We know that when this text is expository, the problem seems even more profound. Many of us lived through the awakening of the field to reading levels…

When we write anything, it’s important to seek a bit of understanding before we begin drafting. For instance, it makes sense to read some quality fiction before we try our hand at composing it. If we’re eager to craft a powerful poem, we might learn a lot by studying the work of the poets who came before us. If we want to craft a quality argument? Analyzing the work of others would probably serve us…

This post is the second in a series on unit design and the CCLS.¬† You may find the first one here. I have always had a passion for curriculum design. Like writing, it inspires us to think of our audience first: who they are, what they love, what they need, and how we can tuck important lessons into even the darkest corners of the experience. Designing quality units requires us to consider what’s most essential,…

This post is the next in a lengthy series intended to make the work that I am facilitating relevant to Race to the the Top and specifically, the alignment of curricula to the Common Core Learning Standards, transparent for others. Doing so has enabled me to gain clarity and new perspectives from others who are on the ground and doing this work. They have significant expertise to share. If you are approaching similar work in…

Perhaps you’re more than little bit invested in the idea of increasing job satisfaction for yourself and for those that you work with even as you’re Racing to the Top. Perhaps you can appreciate the importance of starting with vision, of thinking bigger (and smaller) than the CCLS, and of honoring the distinction between evaluation and assessment throughout every phase of this work. Perhaps you understand that this is not the time to simply get…