Like many other teachers, after having experienced the rigor and high expectations of last year’s NYS Common Core Assessments for grades 3-8, it became apparent that I needed to reflect and make some changes in my teaching for this school year. Although I thought I did a pretty good job last year with aligning my instruction to the NYS Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS), I soon realized it was only a portion of what I could be doing. This year, I’m trying to be better prepared, and I’m determined to help the struggling readers I work with find increased success with the CCLS.
Taking a few extra steps to plan and prepare along the way has made a difference. Here are a few tools and resources that I have found to be helpful for navigating the Common Core in New York:
- EngageNY – EngageNY is our new best friend. I’ve been spending many lunch dates with this website.
- Common Core Resource Binder — I started a Common Core Resource Binder to house all my resources and help keep me organized! (Check out a sample binder, and grab some free printables to create your own resource binder at Lyndsey’s blog, A Year of Many Firsts!)
- Common Core-Aligned Strategy Posters — My reading team developed “I Can…” Strategy Posters that are aligned to the different strategies. I display these on my board to increase student involvement with the Common Core. The “I Can…” statements put the standards into student-friendly language. (I included the PDF, as well as the editable version for you to download.)
“I Can…” Strategy Posters (Power Point)
**I’m trying Dropbox for downloads, but I may switch back to Google Docs if many run into downloading issues. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any issues!**
- Pinterest — Pinterest is a great way to explore and collect resources. I use it as a bookmarking tool and “digital toolbox” for ideas, strategies, and materials. Over the past few months, I’ve discovered many new resources related to the Common Core. (Feel free to check out my Pinterest board, “Common Core,” for resources I’ve collected this year. Consider following this board to access all the Common Core resources I discover throughout the year!)
- Common Core Checklists — I’m using the FREE checklists from The Curriculum Corner to keep track of my Common Core instruction, (i.e., introduction, review, and assessment dates for different skills/strands). This is a valuable tool for helping teachers keep track of their instruction and which skills they still need to cover. Some teachers are using one for their whole class, others are printing separate checklists for small groups and individual students. I use it for 1:1 instruction and my small groups.
Even with all the planning and preparation, as an interventionist for reading, I’m greatly concerned about the students who are struggling with grade-level skills and have difficulty closing the skill gaps to perform successfully on these assessments. The checklists, posters, and binder are just a starting point – they will help me manage my instruction and keep track of student progress – but I will still need to continuously reflect and refine my teaching to ensure that my students are meeting the new expectations and standards.
I would love to hear some feedback regarding what you and your districts are doing to prepare students and address the new standards.
- How have you prepared for the Common Core?
- What resources are you using?
- What are you doing to help your students prepare for the Common Core Assessments?
(Please share your comments at the bottom of this post!)