Friday, May 11, 2012

The Uncommon Core Curriclum

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!  
This word cloud was made from the tribute letters written by Bay students about Bay Village teachers and staff who had been a positive influence in their lives.  The larger the word, the more times it appeared in the text of the letters.

Last night I had the opportunity to go to a unique program in our district.  The Superintendent's Best Awards evening  gives the top academic students in 8th grade and 12th grade the chance to nominate a teacher who had an impact on their lives.  One by one, students stepped up to the podium to read their tribute letter to the teacher they nominated. Some were very brief, a few were poetic, a couple were funny - they all were sincere.  In all, 53 staff members from kindergarten through high school were recognized.

What set these teachers - and really all teachers - apart in the students' minds was not just academic knowledge or the content itself.  It was the role the teachers played in helping the students build confidence in themselves and their learning. It was the extra time teachers spent getting to know the students and supporting them as they grew as individuals.  The Common Core Curriculum is just a lot of words on paper - or a website! But it is the teachers and the students who make it a real.

If I were Ruler of the Education World for just one day, I would put in place the Uncommon Core Curriculum.   The strands would include Character, Vision, Sense of Self, and Life Long Learner. These are the things that make us unique individuals and lead to our success or failure in life. These strands are difficult to measure using traditional assessments.  Instead, teachers sometimes have to wait years to see the results.  These are difficult to teach using traditional approaches.  Lectures and worksheets, group projects, lab activities and research papers don't always allow students to directly learn these strands.  Often it is the modeling and the encouragement that is given by the classroom teacher, an administrator or a staff member that can have the greatest impact on the students who are learning these strands.

Anchor Standards

  • Analyze how decisions made will impact others and yourself.
  • Describe an idea or event from various points of view
  • Demonstrate empathetic behavior in a variety of circumstances
Anchor Standards
  • Identify short term and long term goals and plan for how to meet them.
  • Illustrate how current activities or work will help lead to a larger goal
  • Communicate your goals clearly to others
Sense of Self
Anchor Standards
  • Use a variety of methods to confidently communicate opinions and ideas to others
  • Identify areas of strength and weakness to plan for personal growth
  • Demonstrate pride in accomplishments and celebrate success
Life Long Learner
Anchor Standards
  • Apply strategies that are effective for learning new material
  • Participate in a variety of experiences and activities 
  • Demonstrate ways to share a joy for learning with others

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