The New Hampshire Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development – the folks who lead curriculum development in each school district – organized a visit to innovative Derry schools yesterday. The first stop was Ernest P. Barka Elementary School.
Before the classroom visits, reading specialist and former 3rd grade teacher Wendy Mahoney told visitors about the success Barka has already seen in its new Common Core-based reading programs.
When I followed up with Wendy, she describe their experience this way:
“We are using a new reading strategy to teach the Common Core standards at each student’s level, so children stay focused, understand new concepts and can follow the lessons. We are seeing already that they are progressing much faster."the standards allow us to personalize education"
“We’d been working with Allison to improve her reading since first grade and were not making much progress. But this year, as part of our new “readers’ workshops”* based on the Common Core, Alison and I were reading a book called, Treasure from the Sea."This year Allison has become an enthusiastic non-fiction reader and gone up five reading levels."
“She said, ‘My mom has a jar of sea glass. I felt the pieces over and over again, but I never understood how they were made. I’ve never seen the sea. The diagram in this book helps me understand. Can I take this book home and show my mom? Can I keep this book to read? Oh, can I bring my sea glass in to show you?’
“(The Common Core requires students to understand diagrams of increasing complexity starting in the 2nd grade because elaborate diagrams and data will likely be part of their college and work reading for the rest of their lives.)
“This year Allison has become an enthusiastic non-fiction reader and gone up five reading levels. Her outlook towards reading and school has changed; she wants to learn and is excited about initiating her own learning."The standards have rejuvenated us to teach at a higher level." - 5th grade teacher Julie Hall
“Allison is just one example of how the standards allow us to personalize education. The Common Core is allowing us to do what we all wanted to do when we became teachers – help children learn and love to learn. As my colleague, 5th grade teacher Julie Hall, said the other day, ‘The standards have rejuvenated us to teach at a higher level.’
“Our students now have more ownership for their learning. They choose their books, read the material, and then they share learning with their classmates. Parents are telling us that for holidays and birthdays their children have been asking for books."I have never seen results like this."
“Our new reading programs at Barka have shown clearly how well the standards are working to improve children’s lives. I have never seen results like this.”
*Barka is piloting a program called, “Leveled Literacy Intervention”