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Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. 
Sometimes in education we perseverate and focus on skills so much that we lose sight of the whole picture and the whole child. 
This issue started two weeks ago when I was in Indiana and several teachers came up to me at lunchtime. They shared that in their centers/stations they had to post the standard the children were working on, and, if asked, the child was expected to respond what they were doing in the center. It’s amazing to me how different districts are interpreting and implementing the CCSS…and it’s also very frustrating!! Rarely does learning take place in isolation. There are a myriad of cognitive, physical, and social/emotional factors involved in any learning experience.

For example, let’s just take a look at some nursery rhyme puppets that I might place in a center. Couldn’t all of these standards apply?

RL.K.2 I can retell stories. (Children could choose a stick and tell what happened to the character.)

RL.K.3 I can identify characters in a story. (Children could name the characters in the different rhymes.)

RL.K.5. I can identify nursery rhymes. (Can you name other nursery rhymes?)

RL.K.9 I can match the illustration with the story. (Let children match puppets up with those in a nursery rhyme book.)

RF.K.2a I can tell words that rhyme. (Have children identify, write, or draw pictures of the words that rhyme.)

W.K.3 I can write about a series of events. (Children choose a puppet and then use a cartoon frame to illustrate what happened in the beginning, middle, and end of the rhyme.)

SL.K.1 I can talk and listen in small groups. (Children work with a partner and take turns choosing a stick and saying that rhyme.)

These same teachers told me that the child had to produce “evidence of learning at each center.” WOW! We’re going to kill a lot of trees with all that paper and pencil work. Is it really necessary to document every little thing? Is that going to improve learning in the long run?

However, my role is not to question why or criticize. My role is to help you and that is what I intend to do! I’ve already started working on specific center activities that you will be able to use next school year. The crazy thing is that we are all obsessing about Common Core State Standards…while many states are rethinking and questioning these. I tell teachers it’s like we are trying to build the plane as we are flying it. WE DON’T KNOW!!! We don’t really know if these standards are going to improve education in America and make children more successful in the future.

Although I will do my best to help you implement the standards, I want you to realize that I am totally committed to BEST PRACTICES. Good teaching is good teaching, and the activities, strategies, and ideas I share with you will still be meaningful 20 years from now when I’m in the nursing home! We will never, ever, ever give up! We will hold hands and stick together! We will shut our doors and continue to sing, dance, and make learning FUN! Can you say, “AMEN!”