By Susan Graham
Susan Graham, a National Board Certified Teacher and Teacher Leaders Network member, retired in spring 2011 after 28 years in the classroom. However, she continues to encourage innovative reforms in teaching and learning, and is currently serving as a Virtual Community Organizer for CTQ’s new Implementing Common Core Standards project.
That’s the sort of energy generated when exemplary teachers combine their expertise to tackle tough issues in teaching and learning—which happens all the time on CTQ’s virtual Teacher Leaders Network. But this energy is powerful face-to-face, too, as I witnessed this weekend when CTQ assembled 21 National Board Certified Teachers from NC and KY to work on the Implementing Common Core Standards (ICCS) project.
Here’s how the Common Core State Standards website describes the standards:
The Common Core Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.
But what does that look like in the classroom? How will students demonstrate mastery of the standards of literacy and mathematical functionality? And how do these efforts square with the pressures of standardized test performance (currently the centerpiece of many states’ assessment and evaluation systems)?
Over the next year, the accomplished teachers I met at CTQ will face down these tough questions. They will design—and test-drive in their own classrooms, with their own students—lessons and assessments linked to the Common Core State Standards.
ICCS teachers will pilot formative assessment templates created by the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) and Mathematics Design Collaborative (MDC) with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The teachers met with Eleanor Dougherty (LDC) and Ann Shannon (MDC) to get a better sense of how to implement these new tools.
The teachers aren’t just test-driving—they’re documenting every curve of the road. As they fine-tune, deliver, and evaluate LDC and MDC modules, they’ll be compiling video clips of instruction and assembling evidence of student work, and reflecting on how the modules affect student learning and their own practice.
In spring 2012, the ICCS teachers will begin to share the toolkits they’re creating—influencing student achievement in classrooms across the country. And their field-test critiques of the Design Collaborative concepts will inform the process of integrating Common Core Standards and state course standards.
How will the pieces fit together? What will the results be? Which questions will be answered—in full or in part—and which will remain? We don’t know yet—but it is exciting to know that 21 highly accomplished teachers are already hard at work on a potentially transformative project for advancing student learning.