Category Archives: Common Core State Standards “Nuts & Bolts”

Math Games to Utilize at Home or in the Classroom…and Math Chimp~a Great Math Resource Aligned to the Common Core

Math Chimp

A wonderful resource for parents and teachers…and fun for children of all ages. This interactive site engages the brain through math games aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Check it out and let us know your thoughts.

http://www.mathchimp.com/

Sheppards Software

This is a great site for ages 5-16. It offers everything from basic addition to algebraic problems to solve.

http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/math.htm

The Math Games

This is a great fraction enhancing website. It offers simple games like matching to help young minds grasp fraction strategies.

http://themathgames.com/

Math Playground

This is a F-U-N site! It offers games like “Escape from Fraction Manor” and “Project T.R.I.G” A great mental workout for even my old mind ūüėČ

http://www.mathplayground.com/games.html

Math-Play

This site offers games for elementary and middle school students.

http://www.math-play.com/

Play Kids Games

This is a great classroom resource too! This site offers classroom to create and upload math games. Sounds like a Best Practice to me…math and fun!

http://www.playkidsgames.com/mathGames.htm

As always, if you find these websites helpful, then we are thrilled. However, if these websites end up being less than expected, please let us know so we can remove them from our recommended lists.

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,

Denise

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What are Educators and Principals saying about Denise Ball and Unlock the Teacher…

Unlock the Teacher LLC has just finished up working with a staff on curriculum alignment at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs school in Beverly Hills, Michigan.¬† This has been a fifteen month process.¬† The¬† principal, Mr. Joseph Vincler and the entire educational staff made us feel so appreciated!¬† They came to each curriculum session with an abundance of positive energy and a desire to learn.¬† This staff took the time to look and analyze their current curriculum, learn the “Nuts and Bolts” of the Common Core State Standards¬†(that we prepared for them) and¬†collaborated within their professional learning communities in the building to make sure there were no gaps in their teaching practices in all disciplines.¬† It has truly been a pleasure!¬† I have no doubt, that they are among a small list of schools that have looked at ¬†(in-depth) the CCSS documents and have incorporated the Common Core State Standards for ELA and Math into their everyday teaching practices.

We look forward to continue to build a relationship with this school and coming back to work with this wonderful educational staff once the Social Studies and Science standards are released.

Here are a few comments they sent us from one of our first training sessions with them in 2010 as we began the curriculum alignment process.

What are educators saying about Denise Ball and Unlock the Teacher...

One of the many workshops we conducted as part of our Curriculum Alignment Package to this school over the 15 month time-frame.

Unlock the Teacher talking about Education

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,

Denise

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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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Professional Development for Teachers=Inspiration for Trainer

We Conducted a Workshop for Teachers Before Students Arrive Next Week...Inspiring!

We¬†conducted our first professional development for the 2011/2012 school year.¬† We were honored to be asked back by a school we had worked with all last year,¬†with one of¬†our year-long curriculum alignment packages. They worked so hard to align their curriculum as a building.¬†We visited their school three times last year to discuss the Common Core State Standards, met with teachers one-on-one to discuss individual classroom curriculum that¬†we had been working on via email¬†and conducted grade-level curriculum meetings to ensure that the entire building¬†was on the same page.¬† As a curriculum developer, I was very impressed with their dedication to their profession and their work ethic to make sure that their building’s curriculum was appropriately scaffolded to maximize learning potential.

So it was with great joy we accepted their invite to come in and give a two and half hour motivational workshop…what a fun way to kick of the year for them and for us!

This dedicated staff allowed me to push them out of the box with some collaborative “hands-on” exercises and impromptu sharing. I think I enjoyed it as much as they said they did. I truly love to see teachers get excited about collaboration and willingness to learn from one another. It was a great way to start our year off at Unlock the Teacher too.¬† Sometimes we get so consumed by our writing and curriculum alignment projects, that¬†¬†when we conduct our professional development and student workshops, we are reminded of why we are choosing to do what we do.

We look forward to meeting new teachers and principals this year.

We are excited to share that we are talking with app developers for some of our material and we will be sending off our proposal for Book I in our Unlock the Teacher series, that we are collaborating with Dr. David Lick, Director of Family Practice, Beaumont Hospital, and a Professor at Wayne State and Oakland University Beaumont Medical School, and Dr. Joslen Letscher, Professor at the University of Detroit Mercy.  We have an exciting year ahead and are thankful for all the community support we have received.

As last year, and in keeping with who we are, we will be looking for one or two schools to work with and donate our time and talent with writing and ePublishing workshops.  Please let us know if your school would like to be considered by emailing us at teachme@unlocktheteacherllc.com or by visiting us at our website and leave a comment at www.unlocktheteacher.com To contact me directly, email me at denise@unlocktheteacherllc.com

We wish all those who play a role in the life of a child to have a year full of many learning discoveries!

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,

Denise

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Unlock the Teacher Offering Free Anti-Bullying or ePublishing Student Workshop

“There is no work more important than preparing our students to compete and succeed in a global economy,

and it is to the credit of these states that this work is getting down.”

Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education

Unlock the Teacher is offering an unprecedented preview workshop in August and September of 2011 to present the CCSS alignment process for ELA
and Mathematics. This one-hour presentation will explain the process and the benefits of the Alignment Program that Unlock the Teacher has
created.

During this professional development overview, we will:

  • Give a ‚ÄúBasic‚ÄĚ overview of CCSS with a breakdown of each of our
    workshops
  • Show how we will collaborate with all educators throughout the
    year via email
  • Explain the Unlock the Teacher team-based method of alignment
  • Demonstrate the needs and benefits of alignment
  • Preview your current curriculum alignment package

Since Unlock the Teacher is constantly striving to share the knowledge, this CCSS Preview Workshop is being offered at minimal cost. Visit
our website and book before September 1st and receive a special bonus. We will give you a FREE educational training session for your students in either
ePublishing or Anti-Bullying. www.unlocktheteacher.com

We are a  company that was founded to help teachers do what they do best teach! Our unique method allows educators to focus on teaching while our team works with aligning and customizing teacher and building curriculum to the Common Core State Standards. I am a certified educator with over seventeen years in education. I have a BS and MA in Curriculum and Instruction and have worked with many schools on curriculum alignment, get ready for state accreditation and develop funds via grant writing workshops.

Unlock the Teacher this past school year created many student workshops that were very popular with both students and educational staff. Please visit our website for more information and testimonials.

Workshops Synopsis of Unlock the Teacher Workshops (c)2011

Teachers and Educational Staff

Common Core State Standards Workshops:

Cornerstone for Successful Implementation ‚ÄďDistrict Leaders,Principals

Cornerstone for Successful Implementation ‚Äď Building Leaders

Common Core State Standards ‚ÄúNuts & Bolts‚ÄĚ

Curriculum Alignment Part I

~Collaboration is Key!

Curriculum Alignment Part II

~Presentation and Mini-Group Workshop

How to Utilize ePublishing in the Classroom~ Writing Workshop for Grades 1-12 (Given for Grades 1-3, 4-6, 7-8, 9-12)

ePublishing as an Educational Revenue Resource Workshop

Student

Teen ePublishing Workshop

Anti-Bullying¬†‚ÄúWords Hurt‚ÄĚ Workshop Session I (Grades¬†K-3)

Anti-Bullying ‚ÄúYou Can Make a Difference‚ÄĚ Workshop Session II (Grades 4-6)

Anti-Bullying ‚ÄúWords, Action, Character‚ÄĚ Workshop Session III Grades 7 & 8

Anti-Bullying ‚ÄúGetting the Big Picture‚ÄĚ Workshop Session IV (Grades 9-12)

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We Found a Great Blog for all Things Curriculum by Carolyn Starkey ~”The Common Core Daily”

As a teacher and now component of Unlock the Teacher, I read, write and work with schools on curriculum and curriculum alignment projects.  I was taught early on in my career and I also believe, that if a school  has a good curriculum base (a living curriculum), then  the sky is the limit for teachers in the classroom.  Once a curriculum cornerstone is in place, the framework is there and this makes scaffolding curriculum to meet the needs of all learners in a building so much easier.

  • Teachers can collaborate more efficiently, knowing what grade level expectations are.
  • Lessons can be more enhanced, working within guidelines vs. shooting from the hip or¬†from the dark.
  • Teachers then do not have to feel they need to teach by the text but utilize textbooks as they are meant to be…tools to enhance the learning process.

Don’t get me wrong, textbooks are an essential component of the learning process.¬† Good textbooks, written to speak to multiple learning styles, can change the way a student feels about any given subject. However,¬†textbooks¬†are but one piece of the learning puzzle.

That is why, when I stumble upon a good book or curriculum materials from authors like: Solution Tree, Elaine McEwan, Thomas Lickona (Educating for Character~ I highly recommend), Rachel Kessler (The Soul of Education) and Maxine Greene (Releasing the Imagination), I love to share it.  The collaborative process is one of my favorite aspects about teaching and working within schools.

Given all this, I wanted to share with all of our readers, a blog I find a wonderful tool for all things curriculum: The Common Core Daily by Carolyn Starkey.

Carolyn’s blog is a great resource for teachers, administrators, curriculum publishing companies and any parent who enjoys reading about curriculum being taught in schools across the United States. She highlights all views on the Common Core State Standards Initiative and shares great tips she finds online. It has become one of my favorite blogs to read and I highly recommend it. ūüôā¬† It is also a great resource for meeting and adding those who work within the world of education to your Professional Learning Network (PLN).

Let me know your thoughts…

May we seek knowledge in all things,

Denise

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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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Common Core State Standards Workshops

Common Core State Standards Initiative ~www.corestandards.org

Common Core State Standards Initiative

Mission Statement:

‚ÄúThe Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.‚ÄĚ~¬† www.corestandards.org

To help teachers successfully implement the standards Unlock the Teacher has begun to provide support and training to schools this past
school year. (Please visit our website for testimonials.) Teachers in the 44 adopted states will need to begin to provide instruction related to the standards by the fall of 2012.  It is anticipated that students will be assessed on the Common Core Standards beginning in 2014.

Unlock the Teacher providing teacher-friendly curriculum alignment that allows our teachers to do what they do best... T-E-A-C-H!

Common Core State Standards

Curriculum Alignment

Multiple Workshop Model

(c) 2011

Cornerstone for Successful Implementation

-District Leaders, Principals

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

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 ‚ÄúNuts & Bolts‚ÄĚ

-Teachers and Administrators

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 and 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!

-Teachers and Administrators

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 comprised 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 ‚Äúwhat worked and those lessons in need of modification.‚ÄĚ

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.

Session Length: Two Full day

 

Curriculum Alignment Part II-Final Presentation and Mini-Group Workshop

-Teachers and Administrators

Overview: Participants come together to receive a complete aligned curriculum binder.¬† This is a celebration of the educational team‚Äôs hard work on behalf of their students.¬† Grade levels and/or disciplines are divided and ‚ÄúBreak Out‚ÄĚ 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

Expected Participants: Teachers and administrators

*Please note, that Part I and II takes approximately 3-6 months with the Unlock the Teacher LLC Team collaborating via email and phone
with educational staff to customize aligned curriculum. This process includes two full days and one half day of instruction.
This is a proven effective method that takes STRESS off the teachers and allows them to do what they do best, TEACH!

 

Stay Tuned~ A Summer Special

Unlock the Teacher is offering an unprecedented preview workshop in August and September of 2011 to present the CCSS alignment process for ELA and Mathematics.

This one-hour presentation will explain the process and the benefits of the Alignment Program that Unlock the Teacher has proprietorially
created.

During this professional development overview, we will:

  • Give a ‚ÄúBasic‚ÄĚ overview of CCSS with a breakdown of each of our workshops
  • Show how we will collaborate with all educators throughout the year via email
  • Explain the Unlock the Teacher team-based method of alignment
  • Demonstrate the needs and¬†benefits of alignment
  • Preview your current curriculum alignment package¬†to determine¬†needs

We look forward to hearing from you, together we can make a difference for our children, our future!

Denise Ball, Trisha Vaughn and Sue Atwell

The Unlock the Teacher LLC Team

Unlock the Teacher LLC

teachme@unlocktheteacherllc.com

www.unlocktheteacher.com

www.unlocktheteacher.wordpress.com

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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 ūüôā

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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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 ūüėČ

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