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Monthly Archives: January 2011
This afternoon at Harlem Link we’re diving in to the Common Core standards and starting the long process of integrating them into our 2011-12 curriculum maps. At the same time, we’ll begin our mapping protocol by reminding ourselves to reflect on the year as we go, making notes on the maps and being prepared to repeat “what works” and change “what needs to be changed” for the coming school year. We’ll spend less time on the maps this afternoon, and more time getting to know Common Core. This is a first date, but it’s also the first date of an arranged marriage, so we better get cozy and fast.
I imagine that after our exercise of cross-walking Common Core with our NYS-based Harlem Link Learning Standards, I along with our faculty will have a better understanding of what Common Core is trying to accomplish. It’s been a hard and sometimes confusing road getting to know the content of the standards.
For example, I was a bit mystified and even angry when I discovered recently that the word “pattern” does not even appear in the math content standards from kindergarten through second grade! (We have a whole section of our school learning standards in math devoted to pattern, in each grade from K to 5.) I was even angrier when I saw that New York State added in a pattern standard to the new Pre-Kindergarten standards it added to Common Core. ‘They [meaning NYSED] agreed, dammit!’ I though. ‘If they could change the Grades K-2 standards and explicitly add in patterns, they would! What’s going on?’
I was brought back down to earth by Joan, the wise hand who has been our contracted staff developer through Math in the City since 2006. “They are concentrating on number,” she reassured me, “and you will find pattern in the number system.” I also reminded myself that pattern is featured in at least one of the eight Standards for Mathematical Practice, which are the same in all the grades and serve as an almost metaphysical companion to the content standards. The exact language in the Common Core is, “Look for and make use of structure.”
‘Oh my gosh,’ I thought, ‘teachers really have to become expert in the field in order to make good decisions about how to do this well.’ Intimidating? Yes – but with our steadfast choice as a school to create our own curriculum and write our own standards, and to implement them with an inefficient, messy and demanding pedagogy that is based on student inquiry, choice and independence rather than the robotic recitation of a script, how could we do it any other way?
UPDATE: The session went well, inasmuch as we met the objective and embarked on the work. See photos for faculty members in action and one of the key tasks of crosswalking the Harlem Link learning standards with Common Core. The protocol we followed helped demystify the standards and get teachers to understand the structure and the details of their grade’s standards quickly. We generally found the Common Core standards to be a step up in terms of rigor, which is both daunting and exciting.[gallery]