Category Archives: Achievement Gap Blogs

Common Core State Standards Math Overview-Easier to Read and Utilize as a Teaching Resource

As Unlock the Teacher works with a few schools this year in aligning their building curriculum to the Common Core State Standards Model (CCSS) for ELA and Math, we are having some great discussions about these curriculum documents.

I have not been shy with stating that I am a fan of the CCSS documents. As a curriculum writer and having earned my BS and MA in Curriculum and Instruction, I find that these documents take out all the fluff and redundancies that can be seen in some state standards.  During my years as a classroom teacher, I utilized the state standards as a tool, a guide to create my overall curriculum maps. I would have loved to have the CCSS documents as a resource when creating my curriculum shell, filled in with the many creative best practices learned over the years from many great educators I was fortunate enough to collaborate with.  Given that, I am now happy to go into schools and get teachers excited about mapping out their teaching ideas and best practices while looking at and interweaving the CCSS into their overall teaching vision.

The math portion of the CCSS, is well laid out and easy for educators and educational trainers to understand, manipulate and interpret.  The mathematical practices offered/suggested per grade level is a helpful guide.  This portion would also be a good guide to distribute on Parent/Teacher Night or post on school’s website for parents to be able to see and feel buy-in as a stakeholder in the life of their child.

The Grade Overviews are Simple and to the Point

Grade K

  • Counting and Cardinality
  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Number and Operations in Base Ten
  • Measurements and Data
  • Geometry

Grade 1

  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Number and Operations in Base Ten
  • Measurements and Data
  • Geometry

Grade 2

  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Number and Operations in Base Ten
  • Measurements and Data
  • Geometry

Grade 3

  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Number and Operations in Base Ten
  • Numbers and Operations-FRACTIONS
  • Measurements and Data
  • Geometry

Grade 4

  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Number and Operations in Base Ten
  • Numbers and Operations-Fractions
  • Measurements and Data
  • Geometry

Grade 5

  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Number and Operations in Base Ten
  • Numbers and Operations-Fractions
  • Measurements and Data
  • Geometry

Grade 6 (Notice the Change in Concepts)

  • Ratios and Proportional Relationships
  • The Number System
  • Expressions and Equations
  • Geometry
  • Statistics and Probability

Grade 7

  • Ratios and Proportional Relationships
  • The Number System
  • Expressions and Equations
  • Geometry
  • Statistics and Probability

Grade 8

  • Ratios and Proportional Relationships
  • The Number System
  • Expressions and Equations
  • Functions
  • Geometry
  • Statistics and Probability

Mathematics Standards for High School Grades 9-12

This segment is broken down not per grade but by standards:

  • Number and Quantity
  • Algebra
  • Functions
  • Modeling
  • Geometry
  • Statistics and Probability

These are just the overview concepts advised, with the CCSS documents providing a more in-depth breakdown for the educator to interpret and utilize as a tool. Notice that K-5 have the same concepts titles with a few additional concepts given based on development. (e.g. Grade K-counting and grade 3-fractions etc.) The document is written as such to allow a scaffolding process to occur within the curriculum. This is to ensure learner success across the grades. (REMINDER: This is a tool…as an educator, you are the subject matter expert of the students in your class.)

Grades 6-8, and 9-12 have their own set of concepts following the same scaffolding thought process as K-5. regardless if you teach math or not, it is a good document to familiarize yourself with, so if questions are asked (and they will be) you can speak with some authority that you have read them.

A Short CCSS Story

I was asked to assist at a Curriculum Night Open House for one of the schools we have been assisting with their curriculum alignment.  Unlock the Teacher created documents demonstrating all the curriculum alignment the staff had been working on and how the educators were reading and interweaving the CCSS into the building’s curriculum. One parent, a very learned individual within the field of mathematics, was at first very skeptical about the CCSS Initiative.

However, once I began to ask him questions about why, and had he read the document and seen the scaffolding effects and just how great that can be for the learning process? He had to admit that his opinion was solely based on what he was reading in the media; he did not read the document for himself.  The principal had anticipated this, and Unlock the Teacher  created a “Nuts & Bolts” version of the CCSS documents for parents. This wonderful parent, truly invested into his child’s learning experience, paused and began to read. He took the information home for further review and was thankful for the explanation on the CCSS Initiative in such a positive light.

I believe in education as in all aspects of life, communication is key.  It is our responsibility as educators to ensure our parents and community are given opportunities to ask questions and to seek answers in a positive environment. Isn’t this is the expectation we also have for our classrooms?

If you or your school has questions about aligning your building’s curriculum to the Common Core State Standards, please feel free to ask and we will try to help. We are happy to come in and work with your educators to ensure that they do not have to feel overwhelmed by adding one more thing to their already hectic schedule, so they can do what they do best…TEACH!

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,

Denise

denise@unlocktheteacherllc.com or teachme@unlocktheteacher.com

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Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Student Workshop Responses Have Been Great…Thank You!

Response to our Common Core State Standards Workshops has Been Amazingly Successful…Thank You!

Unlock the Teacher workshop pictures in schools for the 2010/2011 School Year

Although we worked in schools this past school year 2010/2011 to help align building curriculum to the Common Core State Standards , since we posted our workshops to prepare our calendar for next school year, the response has been amazing!  We are thrilled with the response and inquiring emails are great…we are happy to answer any questions and we work with all schools to include but not limited to public, private and charter.

On this blog alone, we are averaging 40-100 views a day for our workshops and our subscriptions for our blog have doubled.

As we continue to prepare for next year’s schedule, we are also finishing up a few academic eBooks.

We are also finishing up a year’s worth of research, needs assessments and writing…many months of collaborating with  Dr. David Lick, Associate Professor, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine and Assistant Clinical Professor, Wayne State University School of Medicine and Dr. Joslen Letscher, Professor at the University of Detroit Mercy.  We are hoping to send proposals to publishers for this project in September.

Outside of our Common Core State Standards Workshops another hot topic of inquiry from our readers is our Anti-Bullying Workshops.  Brief examples of these workshops will be posted soon.

The positive responses from educators has been so rewarding, as they are my colleagues. To have such great emails commenting that you like what we are trying to do is very humbling and synergistic.

We appreciate all the emails, comments and questions.  We are also trying to write grants now to be able to provide workshops for those schools who have asked but cannot afford it for their staff or students.

Thank you!

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,

Denise and the Unlock the Teacher Team

For further information on our student or teacher workshops, please email us at teachme@unlocktheteacherllc.com or denise@unlocktheteacherllc.com

www.unlocktheteacher.com

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Common Core State Standards Workshops

Common Core State Standards Workshops.

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Recommended Dolch Phonetic System for Emerging Readers

Recommended Dolch Phonetic System for Emerging Readers.

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Zondervan…A Great Educational Site for all Stakeholders in the Life of a Child

As educators we are always looking for good material and strategies to share that will help our parents (the first responders) and teachers be more effective in the life of a child.  Each child is special and unique, so we try to find educational tools to address all learning styles.

This morning, I stumbled upon a site/company that I had forgotten about.  I utilized some of Zondervan‘s products in the classroom many moons ago and somehow I forgot how positive some of their products were for students of all ages.

Zondervan has company values that promote positive character development…refreshing! At Unlock the teacher, we are all about promoting the good…good in ourselves and others; we love this list of values that Zondervan promotes.

OUR VALUES

Integrity — We maintain high ethical and moral standards in speech and in personal and professional conduct.

Initiative — We are willing and empowered to proactively contribute to the success of the company, its customers, and other employees.

Excellence — We give our personal best.

Innovation — We seek out new possibilities in every area and embrace ground-breaking change that adds value.

Respect — We have as much consideration for the personal and professional worth and dignity of others as we do for ourselves.

Accountability — We are responsible for our own actions and answerable to others.

At a time where children, parents and teachers are all trying to find words of inspiration, I am thrilled to offer our readers a look at Zondervan.  If you are like me and new them in the early 90’s, I encourage all stakeholders in the life of a child to take a moment and revisit this company. Zondervan offers book for all ages…us adults too 🙂

My Recommendations

Little People age 6 and under

Cecil the Lost Sheep  good message and sure to engage the young learner/emerging reader

Teens

All books by C.S. Lewis…my students loved his work!

Starlighter by Bryan Davis

Girls~ The Katy Lambright Series

Parents

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren (I read this and loved it, life changing and quite inspiring!)

Teachers

I just recommend you visit site and explore!  Zonderkids~Inspiring Young Lives

I am a firm believer that as educators we need to speak the language of the 21st century in order to be effective in our craft.  This is a great site to explore eBooks (you know we are huge fans of eBooks here at Unlock the Teacher) and educational apps.  Hope you visit this positive company’s site and comment on what you think of recommendation(s).

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,

Denise

PS Thank you for such a positive response to our curriculum workshops…over 400 views in three days!

 

 

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As a Curriculum Developer, This is my Impression of the Common Core State Standards Initiative by Denise Ball

Together we can make a difference!

As one who gets extremely excited about curriculum, I thought I would share some words of wisdom on education that I found from the Common Core State Standards Website. I understand after many years in the education system, how easy it can be for educators to get discouraged when a “new” trend or a “new” must follow philosophy comes along…that all must follow under the auspices of what is best for our children. However, after working with a few educational staffs this past school year on curriculum
alignment and aligning curriculum to the new CCSS ELA and Math model, I am even more impressed with the initiative and the direction it is pushing towards on behalf of our children.

A funny thing is, I believe the CCSS model is even more complimentary and gracious to us educators than many state standards. As an ELA
teacher, I find the comprehensive breakdown of grammar per grade refreshing…not to mention the recommendations of literary works to enhance lessons. However, the icing on the cake for me was the recommendation of utilizing Shakespeare in the classroom…I used Shakespeare’s plays for years in the classrooms I taught and the students just enjoyed it! In fact, one year
I had a group of seventh grade girls who found joy in practicing writing and speaking in Old English 🙂

With this said, I hope you take a look at the Common Core Standards with an open mind and look at them as a guide…as all curriculum is.
The true mastery is in the teacher and the reflective practices he/she uses to capture the unending teachable moments throughout the school year.

Great quotes taken from the Common Core State Standards Initiative
Benchmarking for Success documents:

“We are living in a world without borders. To meet the realities of the 21st century global economy and maintain America’s competitive edge into the future, we need students who are prepared to compete not only with their American peers, but with students from all across the globe for the jobs of tomorrow.”

“Nations around the world are facing a new education imperative, and many are seizing the historical moment to provide their citizens with better opportunities and stronger economies.”

“Governors recognize that new economic realities mean it no longer matters how one U.S. state compares to another on a national test; what matters is how a state’s students compare to those in countries around the globe. America must seize this moment to ensure that we have workers whose knowledge, skills, and talents are competitive with the best in the world.”

For additional information on Common Core State Standards that all but a few states have adopted visit http://www.corestandards.org/

For information on Unlock the Teacher LLC Common Core State Standards Workshops and/or recommendations from teacher, principles and superintendents, please feel free to visit our website at www.unlocktheteacher.com or email teachme@unlocktheteacherllc.com

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,

Denise 😉

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Unlock the Teacher LLC in Schools This School Year Conducting Workshops for Students of All Ages

Unlock the Teacher LLC "Teen ePublishing Workshop"

Teen ePublishing Workshop

Christopher Paolini, Author of the popular “Eragon” series, published his first eBook at the age of 14. Could you be the next teen author? Get inspired during this ePublishing workshop for teens. Learn how to turn your original works into an academic portfolio and begin to create a cornerstone for college via ePublishing!

Seminar runs 90 minutes and can be scheduled for up to 100 students.  Please contact us for scheduling a customized workshop to meet your needs.

 

 

 

 

Writing Workshop to Create an eBook

Students from 1st grade through twelfth grade find this workshop fun and beneficial!  We take students through the writing process accompanied with our unique twist.  Once students have outline in place, students discuss, collaborate and sketch illustrations for the work created. After these steps are complete, we demonstrate and facilitate the editing and publishing piece of the workshop until students are able to view a finished product. Regardless of age, it never ceases to amaze me just how excited students get to know that they are now “published” authors.

1st Grade "Writing and ePublishing" Workshop

* This is one of my favorite workshops to conduct :-)…large or small groups work fine. We customize workshops to meet the needs of school.

We have also conducted Anti-Bullying Workshop and additional workshops are being created as we receive requests.

If your school or school near you would like to see kids get excited about writing…visit our website at www.unlocktheteacher.com to schedule a workshop for next year!

Have a super weekend!

Denise and the entire Unlock the Teacher LLC Team

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Unlock the Teacher LLC Present Common Core State Standards Workshops for 2011-2012 School Year

As the 2010-2011 school year is coming to a close, and we have successfully worked with and implemented the Common Core State Standards into a couple school’s curriculum alignment plan, we are happy to share our Curriculum Alignment Workshops we will be offering next school year.

Given the roll out of ELA and Math for 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 CCSS schedule and assessment in 2014, we are thrilled to have a proven model that is teacher and  administrator friendly, time efficient and works with a schedule customized to each school or district’s needs.  For further information, please visit our website at www.unlocktheteacher.com today to schedule your Common Core State Standards Curriculum Alignment training for next year while dates are still available.

Our mission is always to share the good in education and to make a difference for teachers and students.  It is because of this, we offer discounted packages and work with Title Funds and other agencies to ensure success for all!

Unlock the Teacher LLC

Common Core State Standards

Curriculum Alignment

Five Workshop Model

Cornerstone for Successful Implementation –District Leaders, Principals

Session: UTT-A-1

Overview: District leaders and key decision makers establish a plan for the successful implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the curriculum alignment process. Workshop addresses integrating school improvement items, establishing a timeline, designating overseers of specific tasks, clarifying the district’s vision for success, as well as creating a process for developing, sharing, and publishing curriculum alignment plans.

Focus: Customize and set various options in curriculum alignment timelines to be accessible by all users.

Expected Participants: District leaders and key decision makers

Session Length: Half or full day

Cornerstone for Successful Implementation – Building Leaders

Session: UTT-B-1

Overview: Building-level administrators define how Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Curriculum Alignment is to be implemented: using reports operationally, developing a communication plan, establishing timelines, as well as creating feedback to balance instructional design with the needs of the teachers and students.

Focus: Design a plan to support educators as they collaborate with Unlock the Teacher LLC team to develop curriculum alignment packages to include the CCSS.

Expected Participants: Principals and building administrators

Session Length: Half or full day

Common Core State Standards “Nuts & Bolts”

Session: UTT-CCSS-2

Overview: The What, When, Where and Why of the CCSSI documents.  How to look at the standards given, based on International Best Practices to create a meaningful, living curriculum to benefit our children, our future.

Focus: To gain a better understanding of the process behind the Common Core State Standards and to learn how to utilize these documents as a classroom resource.

Expected Participants: Teachers and administrators

Session Length: Full day

 

Curriculum Alignment Part I

 Collaboration is Key!

Session: UTT-CA-3

Overview: Participants reflect on their current teaching practices and work with Unlock the Teacher team to design a curriculum package that meets and exceeds state and national standards, incorporating the Common Core State Standard.  Educators will collaborate
with team to create customized curriculum that is composed of living documents, adjusted regularly to meet the needs of all learners.

Curriculum mapping templates are designed to allow teachers to reflect and journal on “what worked and those lessons in need of modification.”

Focus: Utilize the Common Core State Standards as a skeletal outline to fill in to design a customized curriculum to meet the needs of all learners and to follow guidelines outlined at the state and national level.

Expected Participants: Teachers and administrators

Session Length: Full day

 

Note: This process takes approximately 3-6 months with the Unlock the Team collaborating via email and phone with educational staff to
customize aligned curriculum.  This is a proven effective method which takes STRESS off of the teachers and allows them to do what they do best, TEACH!

Curriculum Alignment Part II

Presentation and Mini-Group Workshop

Session: UTT-Final-4

Overview: Participants come together to receive a complete aligned curriculum binder.  This is a celebration of the educational team’s hard work on behalf of their students.  Grade levels and/or disciplines are divided and “Break Out” session occurs where educators are
guided through a professional learning community exercise.

Focus: To find strengths and weaknesses to work on in the new aligned curriculum. Create professional learning community tools in
curriculum development.

Session Length: Half day

Recommendations can be provided upon request.

May we seek knowledge in all things,

Denise 🙂

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“Mysteries of the Beach” on Sale Now at Barnes and Noble,Written by Educators to Promote literacy and Enhancing the Learning Process

 Mysteries of the Beach is on sale now at Barnes and Noble and can be downloaded for your child’s enjoyment and to utilize as an educational tool.  This is a complete science unit (k-2) on the ocean, all inside one book.

We have included hyper links throughout, which make it an ideal teaching tool for classrooms with Smartboards.  Regardless if you are teaching a class, small groups or an individual student, this book is a great resource.

We have recommended additional websites and resources to enrich both the academic and enjoyment areas.

Check out  Mysteries of the Beach at Barnes and Noble and let the learning fun begin!

Barnes and Noble ~FREE~ Nook Apps to Download and Read all eBooks:

Nook Kids ipad app ; Nook App for iPad ; Nook App for iPhone ; Nook App for Android Cell Phones ; Nook App for PC (Personal Computer)

Thank you to everyone for the outpouring of support!   For those who have already purchased the book, please share your experiences and/or children’s comments about Mysteries of the Beach.  We will be publishing the coloring book attachment piece for 99 cents soon.

We are excited to share with you the books being launched March 1st for our Unlock the Teacher LLC Promoting Literacy Campaign.  We appreciate and look forward to all comments.

As many have already requested, we will donate any of our eBooks to schools, libraries, hospitals or any facility that helps children and promotes literacy.  Our goal is to share knowldege and promote all that is good in education!

May we seek knowledge in all things,

Denise & the whole Unlock the Teacher, LLC team 🙂

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“All Around our Town” to Launch the 1st of March in 2011 for Unlock the Teacher LLC Promoting Literacy Campaign

My community has many beautiful parks.

All proceeds from the eBook for  “All Around our Town”  will be donated to St. Mary’s School in Royal Oak, Michigan.  This school has a wonderful curriculum plan that incorporates art and reading across the curriculum.  The art teachers exhibits a passion for her craft and enjoys showcasing the many beautiful art projects created by her students. The 7th and 8th graders are so well read in this building, I enjoy stopping in to ask them what they are reading and why.  Unlock the Teacher LLC can not wait to see what wonderful ways this building will utilize our gift.

 

Given that the Common Core State Standards Initiative rolls out in 2012, if your district or school is in need of some curriculum assistance, please visit our website for more information.  We have a proven track record, a workable, teacher friendly model and positive references  from educators, administrators and district level personnel.  Teachers’ most important job is educating our future, our children.  One role we feel at Unlock the Teacher LLC is vital to our mission, is to be a resource for our fellow teachers.  We go in buildings, look at current curriculum, incorporate new CCSS through collaboration and facilitating workshops to allow the educational staff to focus on the learning process  in the classroom.  Many feel that educators should be able to teach eight hours, go home and grade papers for two-four more hours, write lesson plans and somehow find time for their families.  Then, on top of that, we expect them to stay motivated, current and differentiate to meet the needs of all learners.  We are blessed in this country that there are so many educators who are able to do all these tasks and make it work for all stake holders.  However, there are many studies that speak to the high “burn-out” rate for teachers.  Unlock the Teacher, LLC goal is to be a resource for many and an aid to allow educators to focus on what is most important, preparing our children for the future. Wow, I guess I had more in me today then I realized.  I will now jump off my soap box now and encourage everyone to seek knowledge in all things! ~Denise 🙂

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