Common Core workshop gives Nevada County teachers breakdown on reading, writing standards
The Nevada County Superintendent of Schools held a Common Core State Standards workshop Wednesday, focused on giving teachers a better understanding of how to implement the English and language arts standards for students K-12, also known as ELA standards.
“The thing I love about Common Core is this idea of consistency,” Common Core coach and Bear River High School teacher Steve Hansen said. “When we say we need you to write a summary, it’s not ‘Is that a summary in Mr. Hansen’s class? Is that a summary in Mr. Jones’ class?;’ they should be doing that in all of their classes and that’s what we’re shooting for, and I’m pretty excited about it. ”
Held at the Superintendent of Schools annex building, the workshop was attended by more than 20 teachers from around the county who teach various subjects, such as English, science and math.
“We’re very excited that teachers that do not teach English came to the language arts workshop today because that’s a part of the Common Core standards, incorporating the different subjects together,” said Kathleen Kiefer, the Superintendent of Schools director of Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability.
“It fosters collaboration between teachers of different subjects and different schools.”
Facilitated by three teachers from different districts in the county, the workshop gave attendees an opportunity to explore Common Core ELA standards through a Post-it chart that allowed teachers to address broad and detailed questions.
“Common Core asks for a lot more reading and a depth of reading,” Hansen said. “If you want them to read ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ they might want to read ‘Hunger Games’ or something that they want to read. If we get them to read books that they want to read, they may be more excited to read books that we want them to read.”
As one of 20 different Common Core workshops held by the county in the last four months, Shar Johns, Superintendent of Schools Associate Superintendent of Educational Services, said the goals of Wednesday’s workshop were to help the teachers understand the specifics of the ELA standards and how they can work in the classroom.
“What teachers want most from a training is to be able to take something back to their students,” Johns said. “And that’s what these workshops are doing, giving teachers around the county tangible tools to use in their teaching.”
Deer Creek Elementary School teacher and Common Core coach Andrea Marks gave the group of teachers a presentation on the broader aspects of the ELA standards, focusing on the technical terms and Common Core jargon that will be used by teachers from more than 40 states across the nation.
“Writing should be across all content areas, so all teachers from all subjects must include in their content opinion writing, persuasive argument writing, informative, explanatory and narrative writing,” Marks said.
Pleasant Ridge Union School District teacher and Common Core coach Stacey Welch added, “For example, in kindergarten they can write an opinion like ‘I like apples,’ but it gets added onto every grade. In the first grade, it would then be not just that they like it, but eliciting the reasons why they like that apple.”
In order to further understand the progression a student should make from one grade to the next through the new Common Core standards, the teachers broke up into groups and wrote down the differences and similarities the standards expect for each grade level.
The group was able to then visually see the progression of standards a kindergarten student would have from the base grades, to what a senior in high school should have to be college- and career-ready.
“There is some new stuff here, but a lot of it overlaps with what we already do, and what we all consider as good teaching,” Hansen said.
“There are some naysayers out there saying we’re asking them to do this and it’s too hard. But I think they can do that, and when they finish high school accomplishing these standards, they will be ready for their next steps in life, wherever that may be.”
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.
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