When the Common Core draft was first released in 2009, I was intrigued by the idea of internationally benchmarked standards and proceeded to study them deeply. I wanted to understand how they were constructed, and better still, I wanted to prepare myself to support teachers’ in knowing how to teach them. I read them intensely, made connections to Best Practices in education and began to take them apart.
I realized that the way we think about how to look at standards would have to change. (The language we currently hear is “instructional shifts.”) I also realized that the only way for teachers to genuinely comprehend the standards at their root, was for teachers themselves to dissect the standards. I started a journey toward stripping the standards to get to their core.
On this journey, I began by enlisting texts by Marzano, Kaplan, Renzulli and others. I reached out to teachers, coaches, school leaders, and state leaders. I led the production of a Common Core based curriculum in 2010 and watched it unfold in 2011. I observed teachers’ difficulties and leaders’ struggles with wrestling with a product created by someone else and became reaffirmed that teachers had to do the work.
I reflected on the entire experience for months and emerged with the decision to help teachers deconstruct the standards–break them down into their constituent parts so that teachers could build them back up in the minds of their students. This resulted in what I call The Core Deconstructed. It’s a process for individual teachers to dissect the standards for themselves so they know them intimately. It’s a process that allows for creativity in an era of accountability.
Here’s an example of a partially deconstructed standard.
RI.8.3 Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas or events.
• Students can explain the differences between individuals, events and ideas
• Students can attribute the organizational structure of text to the differences between individuals, events and ideas
• Students can produce a generalization about the effect of making connections and distinctions between individuals, events and ideas
• Students know how to integrate the elements of a well-structured text-based analysis
• Students know how to produce the elements of a well-structured text-based analysis
So this is about teachers getting it, not just me. Because of that, I want to share an excerpt of my project for feedback. Partner with me to hear the voices of educators–the frontline folks who have to do the hard work of effective delivery. Take a look at the excerpt and leave a comment here, on Twitter or on Facebook. Then share with other educators through your favorite medium (email, Twitter, FB, etc.) so I can hear their voices as well.
This work is not about one person or a group of people creating for teachers. It’s about teachers creating for themselves, so they can gain the deep insights and understanding they want in order to translate the standards into the type of learning that their students need.