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Home » Common Core » Diane Johnson, teaching a combined first and second grade, says the Common Core “is less and more, all at the same time”

Diane Johnson, teaching a combined first and second grade, says the Common Core “is less and more, all at the same time”

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Diane Johnson spoke about her Common Core experience at a town hall meeting held on October 11, 2013 at the NEA-NH professional development day at Bow High School.


I’ve been working with the Common Core for  a couple of years now and the thing that I’m finding with my first and second grade kids is it’s less and more, all at the same time…..  And they’re rising to the occasion.  They’re thinking harder about fewer things and they are gaining a broader perspective, number one.  …The standards are higher than they were but we’re doing fewer things.

We’re not spiraling through never getting to the end where kids are expected to own something.  Because now we have targets that allow us to master things.  And we can know that the things we’re asking them to do are harder….All I seemed to be doing before was chasing my tail and I never really knew whether the kids got to where they should.  That was something in the distant future.

This year…I decided to …take a huge amount of time at the beginning of the year to really investigate building number sense….So using the Common Core standards for numbers operations as a guide, I started instituting number talks in my classroom.  And the first and second graders are astonishing me with their problem solving ability. It took awhile.  It’s harder.  They have to explain what they’re doing.

To have six or 7 year olds talk about a multi-step problem and all the different ways that they got there – and then to see that kid in the back go, “Ohhhh, yeah….now I get it.  It’s very satisfying.

Are the demands of the Common Core grade appropriate?  “I think it is.  As long as you start and build from concrete towards conception…that’s what you need to do.  As long as you’re really making sure they are really understanding the concept before you move ahead, yes, you’re in good shape.

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