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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Achieve the Core: A Website You Can Use! (The First in a Series)

How common is common core?  Well, it depends on where you teach and who "tells" you what you should or should not be doing in your classroom.  I teach in South Florida, which in my opinion, means that I have several different "entities" dictating what I should or should not use in my classroom.  Of course, everything I am told about is "highly suggested"...

This is an introduction on how I came to be comfortable with the CCSS, now the Florida Standards.  Starting next week, I will be posting weekly on using the ELA Shifts and how you can use these resources to help you achieve your goals that you have with implementing the shifts as pain-free as possible.  I would also love your feedback and questions!
My journey with the common core started at its inception years ago when I was selected as one of about 25 teachers in our state to create ELA formative assessments for a bank of items for the teachers in Florida.  I worked with a team of extraordinary teachers for over 2 years and we found that common core wasn't so common after all.  All of our districts had different ideas of when to roll out the standards, what the standards meant for our students, how to teach the standards, and which curriculum would best meet the needs of our students while teaching the standards.  Some districts were way ahead of others and some were so far behind that I think they are still drowning all these years later.  Needless to say, we felt a need to share what works best for us and we collaborated so much over those 2 years!  I took the best from the best and brought it to my team at my school.
There came my label as the CCSS expert at my school (expert: not at all,  educated on the standards:  yeah you could say that) and I was on the CCSS implementation and now I help out with the transition to the Florida Standards, when needed.  I mostly help my team of fourth grade teachers, as the Florida Standards mean different things for different grade levels, at least at my school.
Last summer, I was given another great opportunity and that was to become a Florida Standards Advocate.  A fancy name for someone who just wants everyone to understand how to best use these standards in teaching our students to be the very best they can be.  It hasn't been easy!  Teachers are a hard sell, but parents, well they are even harder.  It is difficult to have everyone see eye to eye, but we are getting there, standard by standard.  
The Florida Standards Advocate team works with Student Achievement Partners, a team of people around the nation who work to help states with the transition and implementation to the Common Core or whatever rendition of the core each state may be using.  Let's face it, you can call it whatever you want, but we are teaching Common Core in one way or the other.
Student Achievement Partner's website:  www.achievethecore.org, is amazing!  You will find mentor texts, mentor writing samples, a basal alignment project, mathematical practice help, and all things from a to z that have to do with helping our students become core conscious.   Student Achievement Partners are a non-profit organization dedicated to help teachers do the work of teachers by supporting them with the Common Core Standards. 
I hope that you take a look at this site and as it says below, STEAL all you can and share it with your colleagues.  You too can become an "expert" in helping teachers, parents, and essentially students become Core Minded!

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