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Common Core and Their Future

tamarak@essdack.org's picture

I recently watched a Tennessee high school senior present to his Board of Education why the common core standards are not appropriate for schooling and it brought up some emotions and thoughts that come from the CORE!  Hopefully this post speaks to many hearts and minds of our educators so that we can continue the journey to prepare every student

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Sparking Conversations with PhotoSpark

tamarak@essdack.org's picture

Sparking conversations is something that doesn’t come naturally for everyone. In fact, as I look at my four children, several of them love to visit with others and share their thoughts, beliefs, and values openly, while others like to keep it to themselves. At the dinner table we used to ask the normal question, “How was your day?" and we would get the normal response, “Good.” Since the adoption of the common core state standards, my husband and I (both teachers) changed our approach to encourage more speaking and listening opportunities so conversations are little more lively at the dinner table! We now have each family member share what is great about his or her day and encourage other family members to ask questions relating to what was shared. We also share how we helped someone in need or an action we took that aligned with the virtue our family is studying (i.e., trustworthiness, compassion, gratitude, etc.). Now we have a new possibility for SPARKING conversations in our homes and classrooms--PhotoSpark! Staff from ESSDACK, an educational service center in Central Kansas, recently created a resource called “PhotoSpark” that can be used to spark conversations in various learning environments. Each deck includes 50 unique pictures and a card listing possible ways the photos could be used to support learning. You know what is really cool? They also support the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards. Below are ten easy ways to implement them in the classroom to spark conversations:

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It's a Pain! Cure it with Coaching!

tamarak@essdack.org's picture

A recent trip to a local chiropractor made me realize how important it is to focus on the core.  The visit was scheduled to diagnose why I’ve been having sever headaches for the past year.  After several x-rays, it was noted that the joints in my neck are misaligned, which is most likely the CORE issue causing my headaches.  So, what does this have to do with the common core (or if you live in Kansas, the Kansas College and Career Ready standards)?  Engaging staff and students in the common core is essential to the implementation success. 

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Authentic Learning and Common Core

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What is authentic learning?  Is it learning that is designed by teachers to do real work for themselves, their school and their community?  Is it project-based learning?  Is it making sure we "cover" the college and career standards?  I have wondered an appropriate answer to this question for the past ten years and I've had the opportunity to ask many staff and students what they believe is authentic.

Two definitions for "authentic" from the Merriam-Webster dictionary are:

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Do You Get the Picture?

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This is one of my favorite photos of our four children for obvious reasons.  First, it shows how absolutely adorable they were at that age.  Second, it captures a specific moment in time so we will always remember it.  Third, it proves that they can all get along, at least long enough to snap a photograph.   Beyond those basic visual elements, they picture carries a deeper message for me as it encapsulates some beliefs and values about teaching and learning that are crucial to the successful implementation of the common core standards and assessments.

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