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I often hear these complaints about Common Core:
"Why does everything have to change?"
"How do I teach reading and math and _______?"
"The students are going to fail the test!"
If you are overwhelmed because of CCSS, here is a simple way to think about them.
Mostly, students need to be able to explain their thinking for EVERYTHING.
You have been doing this in some ways already.
For example, we should have been teaching students "how to choose a book", when they pick for independent reading. With that, if you asked the student "why did you pick that book?", theyshould've been able to explain why.
That is just a basic question we should've been asking our students for years.
The problem is that many teachers have NOT been asking their students to explain their choices, and responses.
That is not the fault of Common Core.
This takes practice. If you have not been having students add "why do you think that?" into their responses, then they do not know how to think in that way.
I remember asking students simple questions like "what made you wear that shirt today?", and got nothing.
They do not know HOW to express that they liked the color of the shirt, because it reminds them of their Nana, or the pattern matched their shoes. It takes practice, from everyone and a lot of it.
I work with mostly English Language Learners (ELL).
Even when it is uncomfortable, you have to have the same expectations for these students, as the English Only ones. You have to ask them the WHY, on everything.
Most teachers, everywhere, work on Character Traits. We ask students "what kind of character is Juan?"
When they respond with "shy" or "responsible", our job is to ask them "exactly what did Juan do that makes him shy?"
And, if it does not fit, we HAVE to say that...actually, we need to teach the other students to say that. I expect my students (4th grade) to say, "I disagree that he is shy, I think he is more _______, because he___________".
In order to get the class to that place, you have to expect it. On the test, they will be expected to pull evidence out of a text, and correlate it to a trait.
Along the lines of the example of characters and traits...when the student responds with their trait and evidence, the next step is "what other character (or real person) does he/she remind you of? Give examples of that".
For reading, I have students video their group discussions, often. This holds them accountable, and urges them to find evidence for their answers.
For math, I use Educreations 2-4x a week. This App allows students to explain a math problem (or anything really) by narrating the process and solution, as they draw it on the iPad.
For any subject, Concept Circles are great , drawing 4 sections inside a circle, to write 4 terms down, and have students explain how they are related in writing, and or verbally.
We should not be focused on our test results so much. We are in the same boat together. Keep pushing, so we don't sink together.
Just keep asking, "why do you think that?" and expect your students to "explain your thinking".
Teacher (Manuela) Ippolito