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.