It turns out that our event tonight about the Common Core is actually kind of aligned to the new standards.
The Common Core’s English language arts standards call for students to base their arguments on hard evidence in authentic texts. Similarly, our theory has been that a productive discussion about the opportunities and challenges of the Common Core needs to be rooted in the real experiences of teachers and students.
That’s why we asked educators to bring real examples of student work to provide a springboard for the panel discussion, which will feature a Bronx teacher, Department of Education Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky; and Sandra Stotsky, an advocate of standards who has criticized the Common Core.
(The event starts at 5 p.m. on the Upper East Side. Details are here.)
The half-dozen educators who volunteered to share student work come from middle schools and high schools, special education and general education classrooms, and four of the five boroughs. Here are tastes of the “texts” that a few of the educators will be presenting.
Mark Anderson, a special education teacher at Jonas Bronck Academy in the Bronx who also contributes to the GothamSchools Community section, is bringing his students’ efforts to draw meaning out of “The Sniper,” a 1923 story about the Irish Civil War. Holly Obernauer, from Manhattan’s M.S. 131, will show off students’ essays about character change that takes place in Langston Hughes’ “Thank You, Ma’am.” They each said the new standards are proving challenging for their students with special needs.
Ryan Fanning, an assistant principal at Brooklyn’s Abraham Lincoln High School who has helped support the department’s rollout of the Common Core, is bringing student essays about battles between ancient Greeks and Persians. He’s also bringing notes about the characteristics of each student to emphasize the potential he thinks the new standards have to push high-needs students forward. One six-paragraph essay is by an overage student with special needs who last year got a 44 on the global history Regents exam.
Chris Fazio, from Queens Metropolitan High School, will be showing off one ninth-grader’s work over time on a memoir project. His goal, he said, is to show that teachers can make the Common Core’s detailed standards feel more manageable by breaking them down into smaller-scale steps.
“Many teachers I talk to get anxious when they see five bullet points for each standard,” Fazio said. “That level of detail actually makes my job easier.”