Friday, July 19, 2013

Indiana Teachers Teaching to Rigorous Standards

Great piece on NMSI teacher training where teachers ask politicians to keep the debate on common core outside the classroom and let them teach to rigorous content standards! NMSI teachers pretty much rock!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Students Rise to the Challenge of Common Core

This is a great spot from Gerald Gruenig of Channel 5 KALB news in Louisiana on NMSI teacher training for AP and Common core: 

PINEVILLE, La. (KALB News Channel 5) Teachers from across the state are gathering at Pineville High School this week to learn some new teaching methods for the up coming school year.

"Whenever I was in college and in high school, it was the instructor standing up and just teaching at you and you reading your book. It's not like that anymore, it is everybody participating, everybody is interacting, and everything is just so different," said Nicole Brister.

The National Math and Science Initiative Teacher Program is designed to change the way teachers approach education.

More than 230 teachers are learning to use the Common Core State Standards to engage their students.

Educators who have used techniques from the program say they have been impressed with the results.

"Last year I really started implementing all the common core stuff and one thing that I was amazed about my students here at Pineville High, they really rose to the occasion and I think they liked it more," said Courtney Daenen.

"I started incorporating these in my class room and as soon as I started incorporating, it started to work it's way up and our kids AP scores went from being terrible, we could not pass an AP exam in science to we had one of the highest pass rates percentage wise in the state of Texas," said Bryan Box.

The lessons can also provide a fresh approach for teachers as they prepare for the new school year.

"It's going to go from me standing up there and just talking at them for 55 minutes to me actually engaging them. Saying okay, let's look at this, let's put this in your hand, let's have this concrete lesson right here in front of you," said Nicole Brister.

"Instead of just looking at things from this top surface level. you know, quick quick quick, lets go over it, give the kids the answer, write it down, lets go, lets move on. The kids discover it themselves. The way this training works, is that we are the students and we are learning, you know, so we are learning the way the students would learn, and so we really get it and grasp on to it and I think the kids will too," said Courtney Daenen.

The national math and science initiative will be hosting another teaching workshop at Pineville High School for elementary teachers on August 17th.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Louisiana Common Core Training

I cannot tell you how much I love the article below by Leigh Guidry from the The Town Talk in Louisiana. It really captures what NMSI does with teachers in the summer to ensure that all students can be college and career ready. This is one of the great by-products of Common Core implementation - teachers getting together to improve their teaching practice.  So very awesome -

Workshop aims to equip Louisiana teachers for Common Core

PINEVILLE — Whoever thought teachers slacked off during the summer was wrong. More than 200 teachers sought additional training this week at a National Math and Science Initiative workshop.

Pineville High School hosted the four-day workshop that began Monday and runs through Thursday.

About 230 teachers from across the state discussed increasing rigor in middle and high school math, science and English, said Adria McCauley, NMSI special program coordinator.

“Our name is a little deceiving that way,” McCauley joked.

Teachers were separated into classes by core content, and instructors delved into specifics within the class — for example, covering both algebra and calculus in the high school math class.

Participants ranged from first-year teachers to veterans looking for more instruction on applying Common Core State Standards to the classroom.

Algebra teacher Kayla Barrientos said her interest in the workshop was because of her limited experience — two years at West Ouachita High School.

“(I came) mostly because I’m new,” Barrientos said. “To go to any conference with any other professional who is doing the same thing you’re doing is great.”

Barrientos said her instructor, John Roy, was hitting on things other than algebra, like appropriate ways to grade.

“Nobody taught me that in college,” she said. She said that type of information is what she was missing.

“I know the math,” Barrientos said. “I can tell you the math. It’s how to teach in a way they can understand (that I want).”

McCauley said Barrientos is an example of the typical NMSI participant — a younger teacher looking for help in practices rather than content.

“A lot of younger teachers’ main issue is application and maintaining the rigor,” McCauley said.

Barrientos added that Roy’s math lessons focused on increasing rigor using high-level math problems, which fits with the implementation of Common Core this school year.

National Math and Science Initiative also offers advanced training for those who choose to return for a second or third year.

Instructor Kellye Vandergriff led a “year two” science class in a lab exercise called “Bodies in Skeleton Lake” to study radioactive decay.

The four science teachers who had returned for a second year of training measured half-lives using Skittles as carbon-14 atoms.

Another second-year class was for English teachers, with Pineville High teacher Crystal Mallett in attendance.

“Today (Monday) we’re diving into annotation of literature, context and connotation of vocabulary ... and how these lessons correspond with Common Core State Standards,” Mallett said.

The English workshop also discussed making teachers the “guide on the side” rather than the “sage on the stage,” Mallett said. Rather than lecturing, teachers provide the information and guide students as they discover the concepts.

“It’s about taking the workload off of the teacher and have students do the work,” Mallett said.

English instructor Julie Stephenson led Mallett’s class this week, covering strategies for teaching narrative and fiction literature on Monday.

“These strategies can be used with a number of texts,” Stephenson said. “I want them (teachers) to leave with a toolbox packed with tools, regardless of the text, regardless of the grade level.”

Although much of the workshop is geared toward Advanced Placement and pre-AP classes, Stephenson went over “best practices” strategies she said can be used no matter the ability level of the student.

“(We want to) teach kids how to take something they have absolutely no support with and figure out a way to make meaning with it,” Stephenson said.

Strategies emphasized reading and writing, which are cross-curricular in Common Core, and included how to ask a variety of questions and how to tackle a writing prompt by finding what it is asking, Stephenson said.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

State Initiated Curriculum = Common Core

Phenomenal article out of Macon today entitled Midstate teachers gear up for state-initiated curriculum which talks about the NMSI Common Core Teacher Training that really speaks to what this means for teachers and students.

  1. Teachers are sacrificing their summer to bring increased rigor to their classrooms
  2. Teachers with over a decade of experience are going 'back to school' to improve
  3. Common core state standards ARE a state initiated curriculum
  4. Common core is allowing teachers to go deeper into subjects 
  5. Students will better understand the content and make key connections with the topics they have learned
  6. This is a movement towards depth of material! 
  7. In summary - common core is a laser focus on important content that is connected and builds in cognitive and instructional rigor across grade levels
I really love the work that NMSI is doing with teaches across the country to ensure more students are college and career ready. This article is truly a great testament to that work.