Un-Common Core Considerations for Christian Schools
Do you remember where you were when…?
(The power of context, collective culture, memory, and meaning)
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an education
initiative in the United States that details what K-12 students
should know in language arts and mathematics at the end of
The initiative, launched in 2009, is sponsored by the National
Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State
School Officers (CCSSO). CCSS seeks to establish consistent
education standards across the states as well as ensure that
students graduating from high school are college and career
A significant majority of the U.S. states are members of the CCSS
Initiative, with the states
of Texas, Virginia, Alaska, and Nebraska not adopting the
initiative at a state level. Minnesota has adopted the English
Language Arts standards but not the Mathematics standards.
The CCSS could
Secretary of Education Duncan has complained that CCSS opponents are “fringe
groups” who make “outlandish claims” about “really wacky stuff” such as “mind
control, robots, and biometric brain mapping.”
Yet there are substantive critiques from all corners:
Catholic scholars say the standards are not rigorous enough.
Early childhood experts say they demand too much.
Liberals complain the Common Core opens the door to excessive testing.
Conservatives complain it opens the door to federal influence in local schools.
Teachers don’t like the new textbooks.
Parents don’t like the new homework.
Some critics suggest the CCSS assessments are designed to make public schools
look so bad that parents everywhere will rush to embrace charter schools, cyber
schools, vouchers and other models that turn public education over to private
What is lost? What cannot be quantified? CCSS strongly emphasizes the
importance of critical thinking, and many dissenting opinions regarding CCSS
provide us with ample opportunity to think critically:
I am not a CCSS Zombie,
nor do I play one on t.v.
It is akin to “The Affordable Health Care Act”
How can we be diligent consumers and
How do we stay true to our Christian ideals and
May we share and
work toward a
…Or, does it need to
be a lockstep march
We can be a
power of the
As a Lutheran school, you may be able to
indicate that your school is not bound by
the CCSS, and in fact, routinely addresses
and surpasses those standards.
Yet many of you recognize that some of your
parents are asking about CCSS and how
your school “does that” or “measures up.”
Unless we make
to do otherwise…
We teach like we
We teach like we like
to be taught.
“A capacity, and taste, for reading, gives
access to whatever has already been
discovered by others. It is the key, or one of
the keys, to the already solved problems.
And not only so. It gives a relish, and
facility, for successfully pursuing the [yet]
Clear and precise instruction
0 What is it we want our students to learn?
0 How will we know if each student learned it?
0 How will we respond when some students do not
0 How can we extend and enrich learning for those who
have demonstrated proficiency?
0 RAZOR LIKE PRECISION!!
FOCUS and Prioritize
0 Different design and expectations from the standards
of the past
0 Rigor has increased tremendously:
Many assess the CCSS to be 1+ grade level ahead of
0 Implementation is a process – not a
checklist/opportunity for us to learn
0 ELA Categories:
0 Reading Literature
0 Reading Informational
0 Foundational Skills (k-5)
0 Speaking and Listening
Eight Extreme Shifts in
0 Balancing Informational and Literary Text (PK-5)
0 Building Knowledge in the Content Area Disciplines (6-12)
0 Staircase of Complexity
0 Text-based Answers
0 Writing from Sources
0 Academic Vocabulary
0 Focusing on Technology Based Genres of Text
0 The Student-Centered Classroom
Six Seismic Shifts
0 Deep Understanding
0 Dual Intensity
Doug Reeves’ research on writing
0 “Get you kids writing
0 “Evidence clearly shows
writing improves all academic
subject areas …including
0 “ great comprehension gains
made from summary writing
on any reading/learning”
What kinds of writing?
0 Every student /entire writing process/ 1x each marking
0 Focus on expository and persuasive rather than creative
0 Tight focus on few priority conventions
0 Teach combining sentences
WRITING =‘s THINKING
Linda Hoyt, Reaching new heights with nonfiction writing
Reading/Writing – reciprocal
processes * UK expectations
Power Writes : Short bursts
of writing in every
subject, every day! – Goal: last
5min of every class
A Little Brain Research
from Cindy Middendorf – trained by Eric Jensen
0 It takes 6 weeks for the primary student brain to confirm the
location is a safe place.
0 Movement builds a better brain
0 Crossing the mid-line
0 Pat yourself on the back
0 Knee slaps
0 We need to teach to each student in order to engage their
brains – ONE size DOES NOT fit ALL
Components of Erin School Writing Instruction
• Writer’s Workshop
• Avg. 60 minutes per day
• Student choice
• Curriculum based
• Strength based feedback
• Conferring regularly
• Timely written feedback
• 6 traits
Curriculum Decisions to date
0 Story Town Basal Purchased as a resource for 2-5 –
0 WORDS Their WAY – 5k through Middle School
0 Writer’s Notebook started grades 2-8
0 Writer’s Workshop – 4k-8 starting next year
0 Daily 5, Guided Reading, or Reader’s Workshop –
0 Columbia Assessments K-8 – implemented
0 Grammar focus for each written piece aligned from
CCSS ( in progress)
0 Literacy Links – 4k-2 with phonemic awareness
Stop, collaborate, and listen.
Robert Van Winkle,
20th century philosopher
+ All writing should have authentic purpose and authentic audience
-decrease students writing to prompts
+ Student choice and ownership of topic
-decrease – assigning specific topics to students
+Students ability to brainstorm draft a piece their own way
-decrease assigning specific (or any?) graphic organizers as kids
Balanced Literacy Framework - DRAFT
Whole Group Instruction:
Definition/Purpose: During this time
teachers model reading and writing
strategies and expose ALL students to
on-grade-level reading materials and
What does this look like?
Common comprehension strategies
Concepts of print
Intro. of specific content, genre or skill
Shared reading using trade books and/or
Independent reading time can occur as a
whole class or during literacy centers.
In addition, each grade level assigns
reading time at home.
Definition/Purpose: Guided Reading/Workshop time is the
portion of the literacy block where students are placed
into small groups in which the teacher completes
instruction based on a skill set and/or comprehension
During Guided Reading students are exposed to text at their
instructional level for the majority of the time.
Instructional level is that where miscues are minimal and
comprehension is satisfactory; generally where the level
of challenge is appropriate.
Small groups are formed based on reading levels, interests or
strategy work. These groups are flexible and might change
throughout the year.
During Guided Reading the teacher meets with every reader
at least 3 times per week. It is our goal to meet with
struggling readers daily. Guided Reading time also
includes formal and informal running records, anecdotal
notes, and individual conferences.
While teachers meet with small groups; students work
independently on literacy based activities. These
activities include: independent reading, paired
reading, listening to reading, word work, writing and
computer supported activities.
The CCSS presents great
opportunities for critical
thinking, apologetics, and sharing
(and the Good News)
with a broader audience
The term “staircase” is used to describe
the CCSS because there are two major
instances in which the level of
complexity and sophistication rises: (1)
within each of the standards themselves
and (2) in the texts used to teach those
Allyn, P. (2013). Be core ready: powerful, effective steps to
implementing and achieving the Common Core State Standards.
Twelve steps for a school leader
relative to the CCSS
Step/Change #1: Culture
0 The principal is key to the success of
any curricular endeavor.
0 An effective administrator accounts for
25% of a school’s impact on student
gains while teacher effectiveness
accounts for 33% (NAESP, 2013)
0 Schools with effective cultures
0 Build trust
0 Empower teachers, especially early
adopters and critical mass
0 Differentiate professional development
0 Schoolwide, cross-content literacy is
imperative in the CCSS.
(1) engage with complex text
(2) extract and employ evidence
(3) build knowledge
0 Conduct a data retreat to establish
literacy baseline for school
0 Balance the time spent writing with
the time spent learning how to write
Text Complexity and Informational Text
0 The word “text” and its variations
represents 19% of the total words in
the CCSS compared to less than 1% on
former state standards.
0 Text complexity has increased within
the grade levels, and much more
informational (nonfiction) text is used
0 Teachers must become very familiar
and well read in children’s literature.
They must examine quantitative
measures (Lexile scores) of a text as
well as qualitative measures. For
example, is To Kill a Mockingbird a
Close Reading and Text-Based Response
0 Building close reading skills in all
students is one of the ultimate goals
of the CCSS, and it is a skill most
likely assessed through writing.
0 The CCSS emphasizes “text-based
answers,” which means that students
must both carefully read and cite
specific evidence to support their
interpretations and assertions about
Some are concerned that scripted
curriculum will create teacher drones.
Consider, instead, the magnitude of this
change, especially for mid-career teachers
accustomed to a different paradigm.
Like a student teacher, once the strategies
and processes become more familiar, the
teacher will not be as connected to or
dependent upon the ready-made curriculum
Various states allow varying degrees of
autonomy and latitude, even among
Writing Across Content Areas
0 The CCSS aspires to create a
“literacy rich” environment in which
reading and writing are a shared
responsibility of all teachers.
0 Teachers must be better prepared to
0 Students will continue to write
narratives, but they will also write
informative and argumentative
works. By 12th grade, the latter two
may comprise 80% of all writing
done by students.
0 CCSS is a departure from the mile wide
and inch deep criticism, particularly in
0 Didactic instruction and rote practice
needs to be replaced with
contextualized, relevant work.
0 According to an ACHIEVE survey, 41% of
American teachers believed that innate
intelligence was more important than
0 Resnick & Dweck’s research has
demonstrated that work and effort
create ability. Success in mathematics is
Student Engagement and Collaboration
“Students are engaged when they are
actively interacting with the teacher or
other students in relation to the content
of the lesson.” - Anita Archer
School leaders should
0 Work with the school leadership team
to develop a definition of student
0 Develop classroom protocols which
0 Construct a plan to teach collaborative
skills to students schoolwide.
School leaders directly control three
variables in teaching and learning:
Time, Setting, Methods
Increasing quality instructional time
may offer the most immediate gains in
CCSS encourages teachers to teach
“bell to bell.”
Create-and-Learn vs. Sit-and-Get
Beyond “knowing” an answer, in
the CCSS system, students should
be able to create an answer, make
claims, and produce evidence from
text to support their claims.
More frequent checks for
Targeted proportions of teacher
talk to student work
e.g. Mini lessons in writers’
“The dramatic shift in teaching
prompted by the common core will
require practical, intensive, and ongoing
professional development—not one of
‘spray and pray’ training that exposes
everyone to the same material and
hopes that some of it sticks.”
- Stephanie Hirsh
Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for
Teaching and Teachscape Assessment
0 Both PARCC
(The Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers)
and SMARTER Balanced Assessment are being used with CCSS
0 How does one ensure that informal formative assessment
does not get lost in the shuffle?
0 The CCSS departs from traditional technology instruction
because technology is integrated throughout the standards. It
is not perceived as a separate subject but rather as a vehicle
for core subjects.
0 Technology is fully integrated with CCSS summative
LCMS = Low Cost Makes Sense!
The Reading and Writing Project
(Teachers College Columbia University)
The Charles A. Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin
The TN-Core Common Core Standards
Firsthand: Units of Study (Calkins, Heinemann Publisher)
Five Close Reading Strategies to Support the Common Core
Implementing the Common Core Standards: the Role of the Elementary School
No Red Ink
Wrege, T. W. (2013). Common core implementation checklist for Lutheran schools.
Allyn, P. (2013). Be core ready: powerful, effective steps to implementing and
achieving the common core state standards. Boston: Pearson.
Director of Curriculum and Instruction and middle-school principal
Erin School District
Dean, School of Education, Concordia University Wisconsin
• Designed for school administrators &
• Hands-on opportunities to experience and
develop CCSS assessments in grade-level
• Discount for registrations received prior to
• Workshop participation may be used
toward EDGP or EDG credits for licensure
renewal and/or a graduate degree
Un-Common Core Considerations for
June 16 – 18, 2014
Concordia University Wisconsin