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Susan Martin, Kindergarten teacher at Mt. Lebanon Elementary School, West Lebanon: Common Core is “phenomenally hard” but most welcome it

At the NEA-NH fall professional development day in Bow, NH, Susan Martin talks about demands the new standards make on kindergarteners.

Highlights

We have just put in an all-day Kindergarten  – plus we were charged with doing Common Core from the get-go – so we spent weeks doing this in terms of just setting up all the logistics behind it and determining how we were going to assess….

It was a huge commitment…I have to say,…I’ve probably increased my time by 25%…, but I think it’s getting less…. I’m just more familiar with the standards and what we’re looking at so that anxiety has decreased.

…The interesting impact is what parents say. They immediately recognize that it is more rigorous and that we are asking a tremendous amount, and at the Kindergarten level it is phenomenally hard. It’s like 1st grade stuff, and that’s what people will say. And most people are welcoming of it, not everybody accomplishes it…There’s less play but there’s still play.

…we recognize that the Common Core are standards; they’re not the curriculum. We’re still charged with implementing those standards through a curriculum. So if I can figure out a way of doing it in a playful way and I’m reaching those, those standards, it’s fine. It’s great.

Deb Springhorn, American Studies teacher at Lebanon High School: we’ve been doing Common Core for 20 years

Deb Springhorn speaks briefly at the Common Core town hall lunch during the NEA-NH professional development day on October 16, 2013

Highlights

….this may sound weird but I think we’ve been doing Common Core for at least the 20 years that I’ve been [at Lebanon High School]. To me it’s just good curriculum and good classroom instruction….I for one have been teaching an American Studies program for 21 years where it’s American literature and American history combined together. We bring in philosophy. We bring in economics. We bring in art. We bring in music. And when you have all of these things put together….right embedded in the curriculum, they are the higher order thinking skills I think the Common Core really addresses on a number of fronts. So I’m a believer.

Richard Kirby, 6th grade teacher, talks about the Common Core and parents’ response at Alton Central School

Here is Richard Kirby, who teaches 6th grade math and social studies at Alton Central School, the single school in the Alton school district recently famous for voting to “reject” the Common Core.  A second Alton teacher chimes in at the end.

Highlights

I’m Richard Kirby and I teach at Alton Central School…We’re supported by our Superintendent and by the Principal, but the School Board are the ones who are missing the point. …And they don’t know…we’ve been working on the Common Core for a few years …, putting everything together.

…the Common Core just clarifies things. It makes it easier for me as a teacher.

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Kathy Kirby, Hollis/Brookline High social studies teacher: more primary source material – fewer text books.

Here is Kathy Kirby, social studies teacher at Hollis/Brookline Cooperative High School, talking to 50 teachers in a Common Core town hall meeting on October 16, 2013, during an NEA-NH professional development day.

Highlights

“The objective in our district has always been to graduate successful writers and critical thinkers and people who have developed high reading skills.  So those are very much in line with the Common Core….”

How is your classroom actually different as a result of implementing the Common Core?

“We are more focused on primary source material – less on text books.  More on actual experience in history. I teach social studies,  so the focus has been finding grade level appropriate primary source material that inspires students and gets them to think about developing questions for the author and understanding their point of view, which is a Common Core standard, and be able to turn that around and almost engage in a conversation with [the author] and ask them critical questions.  Then they should be able to write a summary the primary source author is trying to communicate the audience.”

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

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.

Highlights

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.

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