Update on Common Core Standards
The 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 our students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.
I wanted to give you a few resources to reference.
The District has formally adopted Investigations. It is a complete K-5 mathematics curriculum, developed at TERC in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is designed to help all children understand fundamental ideas of number and operations, geometry, data, measurement and early algebra.
Six major goals guided the development of Investigations. The curriculum is designed to:
- Support students to make sense of mathematics and learn that they can be mathematical thinkers
- Focus on computational fluency with whole numbers as a major goal of the elementary grades
- Provide substantive work in important areas of mathematics—rational numbers, geometry, measurement, data, and early algebra—and connections among them
- Emphasize reasoning about mathematical ideas
- Communicate mathematics content and pedagogy to teachers
- Engage the range of learners in understanding mathematics.
We are also excited to announce that all of Soquel Elementary teachers are formally trained in Cognitively Guided Instruction.
Cognitively Guided Instruction is an inquiry-based approach to teaching mathematics that was developed at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (Carpenter et al, 1999). This extensively researched approach provides teachers with knowledge about the developmental stages of children’s mathematical reasoning. This knowledge enables teachers to plan mathematics instruction based on their students’ understanding and guide them toward greater mathematical reasoning and concept mastery.
Cotsen – Common Ground for Common Core
Soquel Elementary School is in its second year of the Cotsen program partnership. The Cotsen program was established to target and select the most gifted and talented teachers from a school campus who become Cotsen Fellows with one teacher becoming the campus Mentor.
Soquel El has nine Fellows selected to participate in this special program. They are lead by Ann Cardoza serving as their Mentor. These nine Fellows have been busy for the past year with seven of them attending Teacher’s College at Columbia University in New York over the summer to study Readers and Writers Workshop.
In addition, the Soquel Elementary School fellows participated in the National CGI Conference in Iowa, the National ORFF conference of music in Denver and a Writers Workshop in Los Angeles. This would not be possible without the financial commitment to the school district of over $400,000 from Cotsen for the next three years.
Cotsen has changed the culture of Soquel Elementary School by supporting the school as a true learning community where teachers collaborate to talk about student growth and outcomes. The program will help the school best adapt to the Common Core standards going into the future.
For more information on the Cotsen Foundation and The Art of Teaching, check out www.cotsen.org.
-Niels Kisling, Soquel Elementary Parent
Writer’s Workshop comes to Soquel El
The entire teaching staff of 22 teachers at Soquel Elementary School recently engaged in a staff development session called; Writer’s Workshop. The three-day workshop, held at the school, teaches the teachers how to best develop student’s writing skills. With better writing comes better reading.
The staff was allowed to participate because of Principal, Gerri Fippin, budgeted resources to provide quality instructors and to hire substitute teachers to teach classes during the workshop. Soquel Elementary School parents also stepped up to volunteer in the classrooms so the students were least- affected by the change in their daily routine.
The Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project is housed at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. Presenters came from Momentum in Teaching in Long Beach to share the Lucy Calkins, Every Student is a Writer, curriculum. The workshop is intended to make the art of teaching reading and writing consistent throughout all grade levels. The mission of The Reading and Writing Project is to help young students become avid readers, writers, and inquirers.
Other schools in the Bay Area that have implemented the Reader’s and Writer’s program have seen test scores rise 10 points within their ELA group (English Learners) alone. This is particularly important for Soquel Elementary School, as they enjoy such a wide cultural base of students, and English learners represent a large percentage of the population of the school.
Soquel Elementary School Principal, Gerri Fippin, says, “This will support our students as they move through the grade levels to understand what is expected and to experience the same teaching style.” The teachers at Soquel are enthusiastic about implementing this inspiring new school-wide program.
For more information on Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Workshop go to: www.readingandwritingproject.com.
-Niels Kisling, Soquel Elementary Parent