Tag Archives: common core

Vol.#95: New Rule

I’ve written many times about the importance of educational technology the tools that can differentiate for students, engage them, and provide data for teachers.

However, it’s not imperative that a teacher be an expert in #edtech. Like our students, there’s a range of abilities and circumstances. Also like our students, what makes the biggest difference is the approach, the attitude, the  willingness to learn

And I have to say, teachers are oftentimes the worst learners. It amazes me when teachers offer up excuses they would never allow a student to give them.

We are months away from 2016. Being a tech expert is not required, but ignoring educational technology is no longer an option. It’s in the standards. It’s part of your job.

Make. An. Effort.

So, borrowing the concept from Bill Maher’s segment of the same title: “New Rule”…

New Rule:

If you wouldn’t allow the excuse, don’t offer it as your own.

Tech Rules

/soapbox

I feel better. 🙂

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Volume #44: Literacy Data, Part Deux

In my last post, I argued against the use of the current practices for gathering data for measuring growth and proficiency in literacy.

I suggested that for math, formative standardized test data is a biopsy. For literacy, it’s more like an autopsy.

And while the data indicates strong versus sickly readers, this information is usually no surprise to the professional educator, and more importantly it offers no treatment plan: advice on which medicine to administer.

With the release of my state’s scores re-renormed to the Common Core, there’s lots of focus on all the new data. What it all means. Why the scores are lower. How it will be improved.

And while the politics rage on, I have to explain to parents that their child simply went from twelve centimeters to five inches, and yes the number may actually be smaller, but I believe it to show growth in his/her reading ability.

And I need to take this new information and figure out how it should inform my instruction. I need the data to indicate a treatment plan for the literacy health of my students.

During my participation in VoiceThread titled “Formative Assessment and Grading” in October 2011, Dylan Wiliam said something that has always really stuck with me:

“One of the problems we have with formative assessment is a paradigm that is often called, “data-driven decision making”. This leads to a focus on the data, rather than on the decisions. So, people collect data, hoping it might come in useful, and then figure out sometime later what kinds of decisions they might use the data to inform.  I’m thinking that we ought to perhaps reverse the ideas in data-driven decision-making and instead focus on decision-driven data collection. Let’s first figure out the decisions we need to make, and then figure out the data that would help us make that decision in a smarter way.”

~Dylan Wiliam   “Formative Assessment and Grading”,  Slide 5   [My emphasis]

I’ve pondered this at great length. If my goal is decision-driven data collection, what would I want out of a standardized literacy assessment? What do I want the data to tell me?

What else? What other information (as a teacher or as a parent) do you believe the data should provide about students’ literacy abilities?

Vol.#32: Help Navigating the Road to ELA Common Core

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Image Credit: Pixabay User “PublicDomainPictures”

It was about a year ago this very week when I started my journey with four other Kenan Fellows at DPI. My Kenan Fellowship last year was an amazing opportunity; one of tremendous growth in my teaching practice.

The culmination of our work together and our intensive study of the English Language Arts Common Core State Standards [ELA CCSS] is a library of resources which has been created and compiled in order to help other ELA educators to transition their own instruction to the demands of the newly adopted ELA CCSS. Continue reading Vol.#32: Help Navigating the Road to ELA Common Core

Vol.#14: Technology and the Common Core [2]

In my previous post on technology and its role in the Common Core curriculum a couple of months ago, I described an integrated approach. Tech should be infused in the instruction, while the content is the educational objective. However, upon further reflection I worry that I under-emphasized a seismic shift in this curriculum as it relates to technology. Namely, that Common Core also expressly states technology as part of the curriculum. This is to say, technology IS now an overt educational objective and not merely a by-product.

For example, on page seven of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts document it states:

Students who are College and Career Ready in Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Language: “…use technology and digital media strategically and capably. Students employ technology thoughtfully to enhance their reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language use. They tailor their searches online to acquire useful information efficiently, and they integrate what they learn using technology with what they learn offline. They are familiar with the strengths and limitations of various technological tools and mediums and can select and use those best suited to their communication goals.”

This gives a picture of a capable student as one who knows how to acquire and communicate facts, not one who has memorized them. Our children live in a world where they hold the entire sum of man’s knowledge in the palm of their hand. They will (rightly) find a quiz about the dates of World War II rather a waste of time.

Further, Continue reading Vol.#14: Technology and the Common Core [2]

Vol.#10: Technology and the Common Core

Considering the significant curriculum changes taking place as a result of the Common Core and NC Essential Standards, do you think that the Common Core or the NC Essential Standards is more likely to positively influence the use of technology for learning or is it another impediment to implementing digital tools? 

The Common Core came about due to the fact that students leaving high school were not college and career ready.* [see below] Therefore, I cannot fathom it is in the spirit of the Common Core to exclude technology, as surely students will need to be technologically literate in college and the careers of the future. Other countries have figured this out; 100% of first graders are learning to code…in Estonia. [source]

I envision the best model for threading technological skills through the Common Core metaphorically like light through a prism. The Common Core is the white light passing through a prism of technology, thereby creating multiple wave-lengths which differentiate for abilities, cultivate 21st century skills, and generate relevance and student-interest.

Technological agnosticism is important, as well. Continue reading Vol.#10: Technology and the Common Core

Vol.#6: Changing the Core

As a multi-track  year-round teacher, I’ve just completed the first week of school: a new administration, a new demanding schedule, a new PLT, a new batch of seventh graders, and many other new challenges. However, this group of students is wonderful, my new PLT is off to a great running start, and this new administration has expressed unwavering high standards for its staff. If your undergo a change in your surroundings, I think it’s safe to assume you’ll change as a result as you adapt.

So looking ahead to this school year, I realize this new context coupled with the unique and intense Kenan Fellows experience will be nothing shy of completely transformative for me. Continue reading Vol.#6: Changing the Core

Vol.#3: Paralysis By Analysis

Image Credit: girlsguideto.com

My work with my Kenan Fellowship started a collaborative chapter this past week. The four other ELA DPI Kenan Fellows and I came together to the NC Department of Instruction for the first time. We’d been using the NC DPI Self-Study Binders to delve into the common core independently, and had a very intensive nine-hour study of the common core Monday to kick-start our journey together.

I realize now there is so much in the Common Core that will have me fundamentally looking at my own instruction, and major instructional shifts will happen for all educators of literacy and English Language Arts: Continue reading Vol.#3: Paralysis By Analysis

Vol.#1: Saying Goodbye

This blog has been a long time in the making.

Granted, mostly in my head. Like most educators and moms of young children, I have plenty of important priorities to point to and say, “I’m too busy”. Despite this, ideas like the concept, the title, and images had been chiseling away at the back of my conscientiousness for months, even before creating a WordPress site in which they could be housed.

Hello. My name is Erica Speaks, and I am a perfectionist.

I think you should know that about me right off the bat. In fact, my husband looks at this blog endeavor dubiously. Not because he thinks I’m not a great writer, but that he knows I absolutely agonize over details, especially when I’m writing.

So, it looked like this blog was going to be an idea that I toyed with but never came to fruition. You know, like building a roadster from scratch or backpacking across Europe.

However, I came across the following quote:

“If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.”

~ Ivan Turgenev

and decided to jump in with both feet and hit “Publish”.

As with all new beginnings, I am saying, “Goodbye,” to several things.

Like all educators this time of year, I said, “Goodbye,” to a group of students. I try to take what I’ve learned each time and get ready to begin anew with fresh challenges and perspective. My year-round school’s calendar starts in July, and hopefully some of it will be blog-worthy.

Also, I have worked diligently over the past ten years “perfecting” lessons from my state’s Standard Course of Study that I will say, “Goodbye,” to in favor of the Common Core alignment coming this school year. I am very fortunate to have been granted a Kenan Fellowship with which I can start this new process. I am certain some of that will be blog-worthy.

The start of this blog also marks one other, “Goodbye.”  I had become very comfortable with my arrangement of having a colleague use some of my writings as guest posts on his own professional blog. Changes have me saying, “Goodbye,” to that safety net, as well.

So, as I anticipate the drive out of my comfort zone on many fronts, I take a long look in the rear view mirror at where I’ve been. I ponder a moment at how I’ve arrived here. It has not been perfect, and I recognize a difficult new stretch of road lies ahead in my journey.

But I’m ready to begin driving forward.