Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Algebra 1 - Common Core Resources

There is a growing number of online resources for this foundational high school course including more traditional sets of resources that are comprised of an organized set of files as well as completely online courses.  Please find below various links to these resources.  Let me know if there are others I should add!

Algebra 1 Teachers


Here is the description from this website maintained by Jeanette Stein:

"Algebra 1 Teachers is a tool that will help with Algebra 1 scope and sequence using the new Common Core State Standards. Lesson plans, assessments, activities, organization, and even tips on keeping your sanity will be addressed on this website and in my newsletter."

This is a compilation of resources from around the web as well as specific documents created by teachers do address the common core state standards.  It is organized by unit and standard to offer both resources as well as a reasonable scope and sequence for Algebra 1.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Districts working on #commoncore

While this list is not exhaustive, and I hope people will contact me with more examples, there are many districts from across the country thinking through and making available curriculum resources they have developed from the common core state standards. 

Verona Public Schools, NJ

Verona Public Schools is currently undergoing a remapping of their curriculum utitilizing the Understanding By Design framework.  The detailed curriculum maps are impressive and provide a solid thinking through of their curriculum k-12.  The link above provides access to all curricular areas. Below are a few screenshots (one from ELA and one from Math):

Jordan-Granite Consortium, Utah

These two districts have separately and together provided an amazing number of resources in both ELA and Math (with some very compelling work in Mathematics).  While there is an amazing number of resources, I will try to spell out some of the most salient.  The ELA resources are district specific, but the math resources are at both the district and the consortium level (as far as I can tell).  The consortium level work on mathematics contains some really wonderful resources!

Jordan District Link

Here just a few pictures of what you will find with some faithful clicking at the Jordan District links above:

Granite District Link


The Granite District has provided us all curriculum maps in ELA and Math as well as an awesome k-12 vocabulary program (vocabulary cards, implementation strategies, PD, etc.) among other resources. This site seems to be growing so it is a good place to check back to and see what is developing.  The list below is just a sampling of the resources they have put together.

Jordan-Granite Consortium Mathematics

The resources here are constantly expanding, shifting, and improving, but above all else inspiring for districts looking for models of digitizing their curriculm, aligning to common core, and producing quality instructional supports and resources for teachers.  Any 7-12 math teacher should visit this to see what they are doing.

There is so much on these two websites that it is hard to prioritize or even list where to begin.  I encourage people when they visit the Middle School link to go to the tabs for "7th Old" and "8th Old" where they have a complete year of work that is common core aligned/designed and has excellent resources.  If you are overwhelmed, e-mail me and I'll tell you what I found helpful

Middle School Mathematics (7th and 8th--remember to look at 7th old and 8th old!)

Seconday Mathematics (HS)

Oakland Schools, Michigan

Oakland Schools has employed Rubicon International to organize and digitize their curriculum maps k-12 using the common core state standards.  It provides a wonderful architecture to their work as a district and allows for the connection of their scope and seqeunce with instructional resources. When using the filter in the search box select "Common Core" under the school field to only search within the maps for common core or select "Common Core" under the map type field.

Clark County Public Schools Literacy Wiki, Kentucky

As many of you know Kentucky was the lead state in common core implementation and Clark County has established this wiki and shared their work with us all.  The site contains an enormous amount of information and includes lesson plans, assessments, and several types of instructional tools and supports a teacher uses in their day-to-day classes. Here are a bulleted list of some of the components you can find on the website that I found particularly helpful, insightful, or new; however, every page of the wiki is worth a click or two!

Deconstructed Standards (divided by grades and by reading, writing, listening, and speaking)

Middle School On Demand Writing

Middle Schools Language Standard Checklists

Middle School Assessment Blueprints

High School Language Arts Standards Checklists





Saturday, May 5, 2012

Utah and North Carolina-Unpacking and Teaching the Standards

Both of these states (see also Arizona) have done a tremendous job unpacking the standards, interpreting them, and providing entry points for teachers' to translate the standards into their curriculum. Utah's site is considerably larger with more materials, resources, etc., but they heavily relied on the great work of North Carolina in their unpacking of the standards.

North Carolina:

These sets of unpacked standards are great to refer to as teachers really start to dig into the standards and want a second opinion on their meaning and how to start seeing them in their classroom.  The North Carolina unpacked standards are a great companion to the Common Core State Standards.

Here is a link to the ELA standards unpacked:     ELA Unpacked Standards

Here is a link to the MATH standards unpacked:  Math Unpacked Standards

*Kansas has translated these unpacked standards and added some additional information in their grade level flipbooks for mathematics.  Very cool and user friendly!



Utah has a plethora of resources that cascade down their Common Core homepage.  Nearly all are worth a click and send you to a range of resources from technology, to news, videos, templates, lesson plans, etc.  UTAH has done an amazing job!  The links highlighted belwo are just a few of the things I discovered that were helpful and new to me.

Unpacked Math Standards:

They have taken the unpacking of standards even further than North Carolina and have really explored the standards at the cluster level.  Look at the series of screenshots below to see what they do for a single mathematical standard 5.0A.3.  Wonderful.

To access the unpacked math standards scrolldown on the homepage to Math.

Lesson Plans in ELA and Math:

With this work in both ELA and Math and their rich unpacking of the standards, they have also developed lesson plans that are cross-linked with the standards.  They are multiple ways to get to the lesson plans, but the homepage for the lesson plans is located here


Summer Academy-Teacher-developed resources

Utah is developing curriculum maps, tools, lesson plans, and other resources each summer through their "Core Academy."  Teachers gather, collaborate, and share their work with the world.  Here is the link to the ELA resources from 2011 and a link to the math resources I could find (I am looking for more!) screenshot of what you will find once you click on these links.

Jordan and Granite Schools: District-Wide Implementation

This is a gold mine full of hard work and thought that represents a scope of implementation that is hard to find anywhere else.  I will try to outline some of the big links to collections of great resources, but the work of these districts deserves a great deal of time for those interested in implementation from a classroom teacher to a principal or superintendent.  I have included links below and a gallery of screenshots of what you will find here.

ELA 6-12 Resources (a lot of things to click, but some wonderful resources here)

Secondary Math Resources (very strong unit design and wide selection of performance tasks and formative assessments)

Middle School Math Resources (very strong unit design and wide selection of performance tasks and formative assessments)

More to come on this post, but wanted to get it up and out there.  Utah has a great deal to offer us all!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Kansas-Text Complexity and PD Modules*


The ELA and Literacy resources homepage offers a vast and useful set of resources ranging from powerpoints, visual maps, and videos to training modules, graphic organizers, and vignettes on specific instructional practices.  The following are only some of the highlights of the resources offered by Kansas, which seem the most compelling for schools and districts anywhere trying to implement and transition to the common core.

Text Complexity Resources:  Much of this information exists in several different places, but Kansas has localized all of their text complexity resources in one place.  They provide all the documents necessary to "understand" how text complexity is determined as well as several worked out examples to help ground the conversation.  The intents of their set of resources is to build competencies and really enable an educator(s) to walk away with solid conception of text complexity.  Below are some snapshots of what you will find on text complexity:

Grade-Level Band Resources:  Kansas organizes the resources by the text complexity bands, which allows the set of resources to truly embody the text complexity framework.  In addition, each of these bands are grouped into "summer academies" so that these bands also become the professional development groupings for ELA.  Everything about this seems to work together to make an incredible set of resources.  There are built in a PD environment and nested within a key part of the common core standards.  Here is a link to each of the grade level bands and beneath them a set of screenshots of what you will find!):

  • Grades K-2 Band
  • Grades 3-5 Band
  • Grades 6-8 Band
  • Grades 9-12 Band:  This band is particularly cavernous and an adventure into a wealth of resources.  From here this "summar academy" directs you to a wiki where teachers have posted an amazing amount of lesson plans, templates, etc.  Definitely worth an exploration by secondary teachers.  VAST!

*Special thanks to @ChristinaHank for pointing me toward the outstanding resources on text complexity as well as PD modules on common core.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Revision of Model Curriculum Units, Curriculum Embedded Performance Assessments

[This is the second post on Massachusetts Race to the Top Revision of Model Curriculum Units by a collection of 200 teachers on October 25th and 26th]

Taking a test at the Real Estate Investing CollegeAfter receiving a wonderful introduction to "genre-based pedagogy" from Meg Gebhard (see previous post), teachers transitioned into a second workshop on Curriculum Embedded Performance Assessments* (CEPAs from here on out). This is an exciting shift or broadening of the concept of student assessment in the state of Massachusetts and is an attempt to grapple with the following charge of Barak Obama:
“I am calling on our nation’s Governors and state education chiefs to develop standards and assessments that don’t simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking, entrepreneurship and creativity.” -President Barack Obama, March 10, 2009
What will this actually look like at this scale? How will governors and state education chiefs develop an accountability system that incorporates performance assessments that happen within the curriculum throughout the school year?  Where to start?  Massachusetts is starting with teachers.  In the U.S. the "beyond-the-bubble-sheet-assessment" has been done locally day-in and day-out by teachers, and to many teachers their day-to-day assessment of learning is far richer than a single two hour session that assesses students primarily via bubble sheet responses.

Each of the model curriculum units created by committees of teachers representing each discipline will incorporate a CEPA.  CEPAs are tasks or series of tasks integrated with curricula that require students to use their knowledge and skills to effectively create products or performances that demonstrate their understanding and ability.  These tasks will take place during and after relevant instruction, can include multiple tasks, and may take up to several days or even weeks to complete. The following is a further list† of possible design principles at play that focus on the "assessment" function of CEPAs:

  • –  Should include both formative and summative components
  • –  Should directly relate to classroom instruction so that it will lead to a greater understanding of the covered topic(s)
  • –  Will be subject-specific, but should incorporate other subject areas when appropriate
  • –  Should result in multiple, individually-produced, scorable products (there will be group work as well, but this would be scored locally)
    –  Should include assessment of communication skills and research 

Clearly this change will not assuage some engaged in the reform debate around assessment, but it definitely marks an inclusion of student performance that can be welcomed by many.  These assessments may be based on multiple products done individually and in groups that may include videos, business proposals, presentations, portfolios and the list of other products go on and on.  Much of the design framework used to develop these performance assessments are grounded in the training provided by Jay McTighe around his GRASPS format from Understanding by Design as well as the ongoing work in cohorts of Massachusetts' schools by Building Quality Performance Assessments Initiative.

The development of CEPAs within the model curriculum units are works in progress from their final look and feel, scope, pilots, implementation, local and statewide scoring, etc.  Despite the considerable list of items that remain to be figured out, it is a fascinating and new adventure that has been spawned by the common core standards and the funding provided by Race to the Top.  I am hopeful that this will lead to students demonstrating their learning both through the bubble sheet and a diversity of performances that occur within their classroom.  I am hopeful that the inclusion of teachers in the design, piloting, and implementation of model curriculum units will lead to a strong foundation for the future of this new endeavor in Massachusetts.

*Through a Looking Glass: Lessons Learned and Future Directions for Performance Assessment
Balanced, Multilevel ScienceAssessment Systems:A Massachusetts Perspective

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Revision of Model Curriculum Units, introductory talk by Meg Gebhard

(pictures from here)

October 25th and 26th educators, instructional leaders, and Department of Education staff met to continue the work on developing Model Curriculum Units through Race to the Top grant awarded the state of Massachusetts  The majority of the time was spent in small groups with fellow teachers and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) support personnel responding to a first round of revisions and finalizing a model unit.  I hope to get to that topic next post, but I wanted to do a preliminary post on the opening talk of the two days.

Participants received a compelling workshop on the role of "academic language" in the construction of knowledge and how to design curriculum that supports it development.  It was delivered by Meg Gebhard from UMass Amherst who opened with a wonderful task that got us thinking about her area of expertise, genre based pedagogy.  Here is the task:

Scenario:  Two weeks ago, I accidently ate some trail mix that had nuts in it while hiking up Mount Monadnock. I ended up in the back of an ambulance going 80 miles an hour with the sirens blaring in the middle of New Hampshire.  
Your Task:  At your table, in groups of four, take 3 minutes to begin writing (each person selects one of the following as the prompt):
  • A recount from the perspective of my 15 year-old daughter who gave me the trail mix and said it was nut free.  Pretend she posted this text to Facebook.
  • A narrative from my perspective that I might send to a magazine such as Outdoor.
  • The report the paramedic gave to the doctor at the emergency room
  • A scientific explanation of allergic reaction you might find in a biology textbook.
Share:  In your group, share your drafts.
  • Record how your texts are organized differently
  • Record how the vocabulary choices and sentence structures are different
  • Record your thoughts on the different relationship established between reader and writer in each text
  • Record the linguistic and cultural resources you drew on to get started with this task
  • Record what was hard or impossible about this task (besides time limitations)
She created an experience that situated academic language by focusing on how it uses language to convey meaning compared to other genres.  She transitioned from our writing to the demands of reading different genres and the various entry points each type of genre provides readers.  It gave this math teacher a great deal to think about as I entered into the process of revising curriculum.  What genres are being employed here? How do genres work in math?  How can students can access on the language in the directions, in a word problem, or in a textbook?  How does  my curriculum engage these genres so they are tooled to interact with them effectively both in collaboration with their peers and independently?

It was a great beginning to the two days!  Next post I will talk more in depth about the revision and finalization process.

She provided several resources on the topic that I will pass on to you:
Exploring How Texts Work, by Beverly Derewianka
Genre, Text, Grammar: Technologies for Teaching and Assessing Writing
The Language of Schooling, by Mary Schleppegrell

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Common core model curriculum design begins in Massachusetts, part 2 and 3

Time Window / Time Slot / Time Bucket / Window of opportunity
Window of Opportunity @

Well part 2 and 3 never happened as promised in my long ago part 1 on the initial gathering of teachers, superintendents, and department of education officials concerning the Race to the Top adventure here in Massachusetts.  My apologies.

Since that time and prior to the week long gathering on curriculum and model curriculum development, I have been browsing the web investigating plans to transition and implement the new standards.  I am strangely inspired.  It  seems that these new standards have created an opening for teachers and their expertise in the conversation on ed reform as well as the nature of the profession.  I see this happening for three reasons:

(1)  The scope of moving 44 states to a new set of standards and assessment is a monumental undertaking and must necessarily include teachers to make it a success.  States are reaching out to teachers to hear how this might work and how this can be an opportunity to move struggling schools toward success.  The task is so big that teachers are needed not just so they can implement a passed down policy, but actually to make meaning of it and give shape to it.

(2)  Standards are limited entities.  As Jay McTighe told the group of Massachusetts' educators, "Standards are a building code."  Standards provide the general frameworks that judge a curriculum in order to ensure it is covering agreed upon content and skills, but we can build thousands of different types of curriculum (buildings) from the same set of standards (building code).  Given the emergence of new standards and all the ways they can come to life, states are turning to teachers as experts for helping making the transition from standards to curriculum.   As I'll discuss in my next blog post, it was inspiring to watch fellow teachers from across the state gather and start to think out curriculum.

(3)  Budget shortfalls combined with a renewal of public awareness around education (NCLB, charter movement, TFA, international competition, expense of private education, heightened awareness around special education, pay for performance, the pros and cons of testing, etc.) has created a swell for some sense of change.  Public clamoring for change and the reality of limited budgets has created a window for the teacher to be drawn into making this happen.  This sometimes has the regrettable tinge of blaming the teacher for all ills, but states have also turned to us to make change happen.  We have an opportunity to do more than be blamed.

My next post will be on my experience developing curriculum along teachers from across the commonwealth of Massachusetts--stay tuned!