Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why I’m a Common Core Advocate

September 19, 2013 by egraham  
Filed under Academics, Featured News, Top Stories, Uncategorized

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By Cheryl Mosier, earth science teacher

While still in middle school, I decided to become a teacher. I first wanted to teach math, but soon found that science, specifically earth science, was my true passion.

There have been many changes to my world as an earth science teacher in Colorado.  But I’ve learned over the years that I have the power and responsibility to speak up for what is best for the students I reach, directly and indirectly. Regardless of whether it is a new evaluation system, educator effectiveness laws, a new statewide assessment system, or revised state content standards and college/career readiness standards, they all affect my ability to make a difference in the lives of students.

Cheryl Mosier, earth science teacher

I have had the opportunity to work on standards writing committees for the state, as well as assessments for my district and state. All of this has influenced my strong support of the Common Core State Standards. The Common Core State Standards are the best innovation to happen in education since I started teaching over 20 years ago. Here’s why:

The CCSS are the floor, not the ceiling for all students. This means that while they will be a challenge for some, others can have their learning extended and enhanced. These expectations are not the lowest common denominator as some claim; rather, they will set a high bar for all students. With the right support at the right time, all students will be able to meet these expectations.

Simply put, the CCSS are a set of consistent and realistic expectations to help prepare students for a successful future in today’s changing world.

Recently I stumbled across an awesome quote from Michael J. Fox: “If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” The CCSS will force all educators to change their classroom practice and become more innovative.

The CCSS is not a curriculum, which means I have the opportunity to collaborate with educators in my school, district, state, and nation to develop and implement the best practices at the best time. Having already implemented a flipped classroom, I’ve seen first-hand how using technology to teach today’s students has made a powerful and positive impact on their learning. Utilizing the CCSS in my science classroom will increase their science literacy, develop informed citizens and create life-long learners.

In my 9th grade science classroom, I will be responsible for ensuring that I address the ELA Standards for Science and Technical Subjects. This means that I will have to figure out better ways to engage students appropriately with complex texts. I have to learn how to develop quality text-dependent questions. Students will have to precisely follow directions to gather data and explain that data in words. Students will have to take written information and translate that data into visual information. I have to find other sources of text to support our content and to introduce students to other ways of learning and knowing. I have to teach content specific vocabulary beyond memorizing definitions. I have to continue to teach students using research-based, and innovate strategies.

Most of all, I have to start speaking up more and helping to educate my community on the benefits for all students of the Common Core State Standards.

My 4th grade son will graduate high school being college and career ready with not only the content, but more importantly, the 21st Century Skills he will need. This also means that he will have endless opportunities to compete in today’s constantly changing global market. He will be exposed to classic literature, but will also get to ask questions and find answers to things that truly interest him. He will learn how to effectively communicate, listen critically and use information appropriately. He will have a firm grasp of mathematical concepts rather than memorizing facts and formulas. As a mom, nothing makes me more excited about the Common Core.

Over the past few months listening to parents and non-educators speak at meetings, reading blogs through various media and having general personal conversations, I have seen and heard many misconceptions.

I have read the standards and come to my own conclusions about them. I’ve attended trainings about CCSS and critically read some of the blog posts and comment strands. I’ve communicated with others, looked for supporting evidence, tried to understand bias and perspective, evaluated information from various sources and begun to write arguments and informative texts.

In short, I’ve used the skills that the Common Core State Standards are asking us as educators to teach our students. Yes, change is difficult and these standards may feel like just another reform being pushed down upon educators. But, I think you’ll find that the Common Core State Standards really do have the potential to provide access to a complete and challenging education for all children and to help them be successful in life outside school.

Comments

14 Responses to “Why I’m a Common Core Advocate”
  1. Jennifer Baker says:

    Are you going to publish an article from the many of us who do NOT support the Common Core? It’s only fair that the readership sees BOTH sides of this argument. Especially since you’re essentially forcing all of us to pay for Common Core propaganda.

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  2. Peter Greene says:

    “The CCSS will force all educators to change their classroom practice and become more innovative.”

    Wow. It will FORCE us to INNOVATE. I don’t even know how to unpack all the assumptions in that sentence. That someone can be forced to be innovate. The teachers have been holding back innovation, but now that we are forced to do it, we finally will.

    “My 4th grade son will graduate high school being college and career ready …”

    And you know this how? What research tells us that the standards included in the CCSS lead to success in those two areas.

    I wish we had the chance to sit and talk. You seem like a nice person and a committed teacher. But I think that you are dead wrong on this issue, and your presence here on this website just serves for me as further evidence that NEA has sold out its members on this issue.

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  3. Cindy says:

    Dear Teacher,

    What you wrote is a mash-up of Edu jargon and tired buzz words. Sad.

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  4. Cheryl Binkley says:

    If NEA continues to publicize and propagandize for Common Core, it will lose membership at a rate that will make earlier drops seem miniscule. Teachers in the field know that CCSS and the high stakes testing attached to it is not good for children, our public schools, or the teaching profession. The leadership of NEA is making a serious miscalculation in throwing their lot with the billionaires and politicians against their own constituencies, the children and teachers of the U.S.

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  5. Michelle Maani says:

    I see nothing outlandish or scary in the Common Core Standards. I don’t know why people are scared of it. It’s trying to get kids to understand instead of just memorize, apply rather than regurgitate. Good teachers are doing that anyhow!

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  6. chrissy says:

    While I think the concept of CC could work on a nationwide basis I have some misgivings I was part of the group which looked at CC for preschool in my state Once we had completed it was sent to ???? What came back did not reflect what the group had written , in many cases it was not developmentally appropriate . To me it looked like it had been sent to someone with a Montesori background and they had altered it considerably in some places . If the people pushing this want buy in from teachers then LISTEN and don’t make inappropriate changes

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  7. Jan Strauss says:

    Ms. Mosier sounds like a nice lady, but she is terribly misinformed. Does she not know there is no research to support that these standards will improve education? That the reason they stress non-fiction is because its chief author, David Coleman, does not like to read fiction? That psychologists and psychiatrists are concerned about the CCSS being so inappropriate for young children that their stress levels will be more than many can handle? That her son cannot be ready for a “global market” if he does not learn another language? That these CCSS come with standardized testing that squelches creativity and penalizes “innovation”? That the countries we tout as having better educational systems than ours do not emphasize testing? That all of these changes are designed to privatize education? That NEA & AFT decided to back these standards,that were not written by teachers,after they received millions of dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation?

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  8. Teacher says:

    This science teacher is misinformed. Perhaps she should wait for cc standards to be written for science before she praises them. The CC standards are meant to create low-level educated people to work at Walmart, etc. Only the elites will attend charters and private schools which, by-the-way, do NOT use CC. Please go to againstausterity.org for article “Common Core: Walmart’s Answer to Education in the Age of Austerity.”

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  9. New Teacher says:

    As a new teacher, I find CCSS quite appalling. I still fail to understand why, as the so-called master of my subject, I have to submit my every action to Big Brother. Maybe South Park was right–if I accept the government into my heart, all will be okay. I agree CCSS can indeed be the floor, but are these standards not the collectivist by-product of a system which frankly does not care about the individual?

    Are we, as teachers, not capable of addressing the needs of our students without the government breathing down our necks? Try having an English teacher write this article–I believe I have 26 more standards than the Sciences. Yes, it is NOT a curriculum, and you only need a few brain cells to quickly cover CCSS. But if they are so darn easy, why have them at all? Education without government intervention may be a radical idea to some, but one does not need school to have an education. CCSS is a TAX on my time (I have record what I teach, no?), actually discouraging innovation.

    A deluded article like this only reenforces why I entered education not just out love of teaching, but to change the system from the ground up. And to think that NEA high ups are living lavish lifestyles while the money I allow them to steal from my paycheck ensures that I will not have meat next week…

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  10. Cheryl Mosier says:

    To address some of the comments – from my perspective -

    I feel that I am more informed than many as I am the “Common Core Advocate” for Colorado and have thus attended many PD sessions in this role. I have spent the time to read the Literacy in History/Social Students, Science, and Technical Subjects standards and begin to implement them into my instruction.

    As I have taught for nearly 20 years in Colorado, my students have been subjected to standardized testing since the early 2000′s. We test our students beginning in 3rd grade and continue through 11th (soon to be 12th for science and social studies). Science will not have Common Core standards, but do have the Next Generation Science Standards – science has had “national” standards since 1996. English and math did not have “national” standards until the release of CCSS.

    While I have used the same basic curriculum for 15 years, I have never taught it the same way. CCSS is encouraging me to creatively think about LITERACY in my content – and I’m lucky enough to have earth science literacy documents to guide me, unlike many other contents who don’t have these types of documents. I have done more purposeful writing this fall than in the past few years.

    Like ANY new implementation, it will take time to gather data on the effectiveness. Change is difficult and often scary. My husband vividly remembers the arguments and difficulty of allowing calculators into classrooms – as students would no longer know how to use a slide rule. Today, we have smart phones and computers to allow for more higher level thinking rather than rote memorization and slower calculations.

    Students will continue to read and study fiction, but also read informational texts as well. This is what we already do in our math, science, social studies, and elective classes – we read informational or non-fiction texts. Because someone has placed percent values to that reading breakdown might be what is causing the concern of fiction no longer being taught. The ELA department at my school has fully embraced CCSS, as they have read, interpreted and digested the document.

    I will never have all of the answers to everyone’s concerns and questions. I only know what I’ve researched and experienced over the past 20 years in education.

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  11. David Freeland says:

    There is no evidence to show that CCSS are any better than the standards we have in place right now. CCSS were not developed by educators, have not be piloted anywhere and do nothing to address the real issues in education today.

    CCSS do not address poverty, student readiness, student motivation or the availability of resources for students and teacher which are major factors holding students back. Many students who do not face those hurdles manage to graduate college and career ready (which are two different things by the way.)

    Simply creating a standard stating students will be able to understand a concept or perform a task doesn’t make it happen – especially if it is developmentally inappropriate. The CCSS are developmentally inappropriate especially at the elementary level.

    There is a very good reason that nations with successful education programs do not rely on standards like CCSS and the testing that goes along with it. Also interesting is the fact that many privates schools, including those attended by the President and the Secretary of Education’s children attend do not rely on CCSS or testing regimes.

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  12. Just another teacher who doesn't support CCSS says:

    This is just one side the story, and quiet honestly it does not hold the weight to make me change my beliefs on common core. I don’t care if she was teaching for 20 years or 20 minutes. It doesn’t take a degree in education to see CC standards are wrong.

    First of all, for an educator to publish an article and MISQUOTE something really makes the rest of the article seem pretty ignorant. It was not Michael J. Fox who said that quote, it was Ignacio Estrada. If you cannot research a simple quote and make sure ALL your facts are straight, don’t write the article. What’s worse is that you state you saw it on FB that scares me about the way you think.

    Common core is the happy meal of educational packages. It has a lot of stuff in a small box and there isn’t anything healthy about it, and incase you are wondering, McDonald’s in a National Chain too because Cheryl seems to believe that for anything to be valid it must be national. I do appreciate how she teaches science and goes on to say there is not “official” CCSS for her area but they do have standards and you guessed it, they are NATIONAL STANDARDS. (I’m starting to see a socialist way of thinking here) It does make it much easier to peddle a set of standards for subject areas you know nothing about and will have no TRUE impact on your teaching. English and Math didn’t need didn’t need national standards because they have STATE standards!

    Worst of all in her rebuttal she tries to state that our fears are typical and change is difficult. But in a true socialist fashion, shut up and take your medicine. Maybe this CCSS should scare us because it’s not right for the children of America. To further support her article she uses the argument that using smartphones and calculators have made the world a SMARTER place? Really? Has she walked into a place and watched a teenager try and make change at the register without a calculator? They can’t! Has she tried to watch kids do basic math without a calculator? Write a paper without a spell checking? Perhaps this teacher needs to take 1 day out of her 20 years in the classroom and visit other classroom, heck, we’ll even let her use this as part of her research on CCSS.

    Maybe this educator has been living in the backwoods of Colorado just a little too long and needs to get out more and see what the world really is about.

    Maybe Common Core is GREAT for Colorado, but stop trying to cram the socialist agenda down everyone’s throat–especially when there is NO data to support that CC works, makes better students, and provides for a valid education.

    I’m proud to be apart of the FIRST state that REJECTED common core!

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  13. Doug Merha says:

    My young daughter who is 7 has been learning some of this CC. I don’t get it. As a parent we are supposed to help our children with their homework. How are we to do this if WE don’t understand it. The homework she has brought home was Math only so far. simple subtraction like 122 – 12 (and show your work). Why does CC promote half a page of work for a problem like 122 – 12? I don’t need a worksheet to know the answer is 110. guess what, she doesn’t either. I still don’t understand how this is going to help my child get ahead in life. Also where is all the data on how CC will work with say… Children with Autism, ADD,or some other disability? I can’t even begin to think what this will do to children who are very intelligent but need a little different way of learning. Are these children going to be left behind when they don’t understand the methodology?

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  14. Brian says:

    That Michael J Fox quote wasn’t actually Michael J Fox, it was Ignacio Estrada. But these details are unimportant in CC..

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