We know that given enough time and support we can ensure our children will be effectively challenged to stretch their understanding at deeper and more intellectual levels. It is also plain to see that many districts need more resources to do this work well, most especially ongoing professional development for educators. However, we should be reminded that this is not the first time that we have been expected to raise learning standards for our children and we should not anticipate that it is the last.
Has implementation been difficult for many of our children, parents, and educators? Yes! Is the future for our children and the nation worth the effort? Absolutely! We may recall President Kennedy’s words when inspiring us to go to the moon, “We choose to do these things because they are hard, not because they are easy.”
Think about the value we will gain as a country when our students become better thinkers who can more independently choose a postsecondary opportunity or career path. In our district, we asked a handful of teachers and students what relative differences they have observed in connection with the implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards. We have also offered some helpful tips to parents about how they can partner with us at home to ensure our students meet with success. Here is what they said:
Learning Strategies that Teachers are Teaching Students
- "To read like detectives"
- "To respond to difficult text with details and to dig deeper into the text"
- "To ask poignant questions that aren’t already stated in the text. Infer regularly to understand a deeper meaning. Look for symbolism whenever possible within the text to connect the bigger pictures."
- "To set goals to become better readers (reading power), read closely to defend answers with evidence from the text, collaborate with peers, and think critically"
Comments Students are Making About Common Core Learning Modules
- "I like working in cooperative groups and talking to each other on topics that don't have a right or wrong answer."
- "It is interesting because it is about Iroquois life. I really like the book Eagle Song and listening to what Iroquois life was like."
- "It is giving us strategies to grow as readers, writers and thinkers."
- "Esperanza Rising is a phenomenal novel. It is filled with details that drag you into the book and it feels as if you were living in the story."
Parents Can Support Student Learning at Home
- Ask your child to teach you how to close read or explain a challenging vocabulary word.
- Read nightly with your child. Listen to them read and talk about parts of the story that have hidden meaning.
- Talk to your child about what is being learned. Talk or write to your child’s teacher for ideas about how you can help him/her with their individual reading strengths and areas for growth.
- Continue to help us to teach our children the value of persisting in the face of difficulty, and that there is fulfillment at this level of engagement.
As public educators we are in service to our families. It’s important they know that in spite of the critical issues that presently challenge us all, we continue to stay anchored in ever seeking to improve and enrich educational experiences for our children.
Ms. Constance Evelyn is the Superintendent of Auburn Enlarged City School District. This piece is part of a letter to parents sent in November 2013.