Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Common Core Seminar Take-Aways

Yesterday, I attended  a seminar given by Lucy Calkins and Mary Ehrenworth about their book, Pathways to the Common Core. Chris Lehman is another author, but he was not part of yesterday's presentation. For me, some of the day's takeaways were:

  • One of the main goals of the Common Core is to accelerate achievement and systemically support excellence in student work.
  • The Common Core sets the standards but the instructional strategies are left up to educators. Therefore, educators have a great deal of power and professionalism.
  • We will need to understand the spirals of the Common Core in order to lift the work within our buildings.
  • We will need to spend time with vertical colleagues and grade-level colleagues in order to give students repeated practice in important skills.
  • We must have a clear understanding of how reading comprehension and writing skills should change as students progress through school.
  • The difference between the least proficient teacher and the most proficient teacher in a given school is greater than the difference between the most proficient teacher at a successful school and the most proficient teacher at a failing school. Therefore, professional communities within buildings have huge opportunities to improve the experiences of their students.
  • We should challenge and assess our instructional practices by assessing the growth that our students make. Strategy feedback is powerful only if the coach/teacher stands back and watches the learners to see if they get better. Growth, or lack thereof, is feedback; if learners don't improve, then we must think about how to teach better.
There were many more take-aways and, as I looked through my notes, I've realized how much Lucy and Mary covered in a relatively short period of time. (The seminar was from 8:30 to 3 and at 2:30, it did not seem like a short seminar!) They gave opportunities for us to practice looking at text in "Common Core ways" and I recommend this as activities for educators. Read a poem or a short text selection and analyze it in terms of craft moves, author intent, inferential thinking and the reasons for it--then, think about what that work looks like at various levels. By doing these sorts of activities, we can start to understand the progression ladders that will ramp of the instruction and achievement in classrooms, accelerating achievement and promoting excellence.


  1. What an exciting time this is in education. Makes me wish I still had a classroom...

  2. Thanks for sharing your list with us. I read the book, but haven't gone to a day-long seminar by the authors. This was great to read.

    BTW: I think my mother-in-law was also in attendance yesterday. (You live in CT, right? She does too.)

    1. There were SO MANY people there in Danbury, CT! I'm sure it was the same conference.