(cross-posted from Professional Development Reflections from Yukon PS)

On January 26, 2012, we attended a full-day workshop about “Common Core Transition” led by Jan Hough with Marzano Research Lab. These are some of our takeaways from the day. Handouts from Jan’s session are available on the OSSBA website.

Writing Across the Curriculum
One of the most important changes emphasized in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is writing across the curriculum. This means students in all grades, in all content areas, need to be doing more writing about what they are learning. Writing is not just just something students need to do in English class, students need to be writing in ALL their subject areas.

4 Key Steps to Implementation
Jan used a four part framework to explain how school districts are and should transition to CCSS. These four parts are:
Proficiency Scales
Instructional Practices
Assessment Practices

These are explained in greater detail on this two page handout from Jan.

Unpacking the Standards
Jan emphasized the importance of “unpacking the standards” for teachers to learn the differences and similarities between what classroom practices they HAVE been doing and the new classroom practices which are expected under the CCSS. Jan provided a template document for teachers to use to “unpack the standards.” Unpacking the standards means taking a CCSS standard and identifying skills a teacher must explicitly teach for the student to successfully master that standard. It was not clear “how many” different standards individual teachers should unpack to adequately understand the CCSS. It seems reasonable for teachers to unpack some, but NOT reasonable for each teacher to individually or even collectively unpack ALL the CCSS which apply to them. Districts which have “unpacked the standards” with their curriculum have created new curriculum maps. This is a process we may include in our transition plan for the current (2011-2012) academic year.

Proficiency Scales / Rubrics
The cornerstone of CCSS implementation from the “Marzano Laboratory” is the creation and use of “proficiency scales” to specify student expectations. These are rubrics which have four levels of student expectations. Jan provided a template document for teachers to use when creating proficiency scales. The Marzano Research Lab provides a free, online “bank” of proficiency scales anyone can access after creating a free account on their website. Quality varies widely for the scales currently “in the bank.”

Written Response Tips
As teachers create assignments and assessments, Jan emphasized the importance of using informational texts. She also emphasized the importance of students citing evidence and writing across the curriculum. Teachers need to work collaboratively with team members on writing across the curriculum.

Ideas for Curriculum Maps
These are ideas we’ve discussed, not ones which were specifically suggested by Jan in the workshop. One of the things we may want to build (or have built) as an action script for Google Documents is a tool to insert different standards into our curriculum maps. We need to make it easy for our teachers to look up and insert CCSS standards as well as PASS objectives for non ELA or math teachers.

Our curriculum maps for each course and each grade level must be “living documents” which are continually open for editing / revision / additions. We will not be well served, going forward into the future, to select a commercial / proprietary tool for curriculum mapping which will require us to pay an annual licensing fee. What makes the most sense, at this point, seems to be using Google Docs as spaces for creating, sharing and updating Curriculum Maps.

The best example of completed curriculum maps we’ve seen are secondary maps from Stillwater PS. North Carolina has excellent resources on ELA and Math “unpacking the standards.”

We’ve created an open group on the social bookmarking site Diigo, called “Oklahoma CCSS,” where we have started to share links to resources. Anyone is welcome to join.

Collaboratively written by Kathy Davis and Wesley Fryer

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