Common Core Questions – Answered!

Questions About the Common Core? Ask The Experts

Across the country, teachers are actively making changes in their classroom practices to reflect the expectations of the Common Core State Standards. To say the roll-out of the Standards has been flawless would be untrue. In the years since the introduction of Common Core, there has been controversy and confusion over the Standards, their implementation, and how they impact the ways educators do their jobs.

You may have questions about Common Core, and you deserve answers from those who understand the realities of implementing the Common Core in a real classroom setting: your fellow educators.

Teaching Channel is working with Student Achievement Partners to get the answers you’ve been looking for. From April 10-16th, eight educators — a combination of Tch Laureates and Core Advocates from Student Achievement Partners — will be answering your Common Core questions on the Q&A board here at Teaching Channel. (For instructions on how to participate, skip down to the bottom of this post.) These educators boast years of experience, have a wide variety of content knowledge, and work tirelessly both in and outside the classroom. Take a moment to acquaint yourself with our panel of educators, and get an idea of who can answer your Common Core questions.

Leigh Bellville, Core Advocate

Leigh BellvilleThis is my first year serving as an instructional coach for Indianola Community School District in Iowa. After teaching secondary English Language Arts for ten years, I am no longer content specific. I now have the opportunity to work with all teachers and students, which has been rewarding.

I have served as a member of Iowa’s State Network of Educators in a Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. During this work, I collaborated with Smarter Balanced and Teaching Channel to create a lesson and videos that are now included in four interactive Digital Library modules. In January 2016, I completed work with Smarter Balanced to review and author ELA items to submit for inclusion in future tests. As English learner numbers increased in my district, I completed additional graduate coursework with Drake University in 2014 and received a K-12 ESL/ELL certification. Currently, I support my district by administering the ELPA21 to students and assisting teachers with differentiation.

Jana Bryant, Core Advocate

Jana BryantI am a K-12 Math Instructional Coach for Daviess County Public Schools in Owensboro, Kentucky. I have taught mathematics for over twenty years to students in grades 4 through 12, and post-secondary in the states of Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Florida. I am currently the Kentucky State Captain and Common Core Advocate with Student Achievement Partners, a Kentucky Hope Street Fellow, NBCT Kentucky Ambassador, and a Kentucky Education Association Fellow. I’ve also participated in Teach to Lead, Kentucky.

In the classroom, I can often anticipate what students might struggle with during a lesson. This leaves me prepared to support them through a productive struggle with the content. One of my strengths as an instructor is creating well-designed learning tasks and activities that require complex thinking by my students. I regularly establish high levels of engagement with all students, and work with high-needs learners. I’m also dedicated to identifying misconceptions of student learning and addressing achievement gaps.

Kristin Gray, Tch Laureate

Kristin GrayI’m a National Board Certified Math Specialist at Richard A. Shields Elementary School in the Cape Henlopen School District in Lewes, Delaware. During my 19 years in education, I have taught fifth through eighth grade math, as well as spent two years as a K-5 Math Specialist. I feel fortunate to be involved with Illustrative Mathematics and Teaching Channel, where I work on projects developing math tasks, facilitating professional development, and blogging about these experiences.

I’m always excited to share my love of teaching at conferences such as National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics, as well as on my blog. I love collaborating with colleagues around mathematics, both in person and online in the #MTBoS (MathTwitterBlogoSphere). I’m also a member of NCSM, NCTM, and am currently serving on the 2017 NCTM San Antonio Annual Conference planning committee. You can connect with me on my Twitter, @MathMinds.

Marion Ivey, Tch Laureate

marioniveyI teach kindergarten in Oak Park, Illinois and am a certified Early Childhood Specialist. I have taught kindergarten for 15 years as well as pre-kindergarten and first grade. As an educator of young children, I’m a generalist who specializes in meeting the diverse needs of young learners. The community I work in is quite diverse, serving students of varied cultural, ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds.

For the last three years, I’ve served as my district’s kindergarten grade level chair, and have been active in curriculum work and professional development for the teachers at my grade level. Over the past five years, I have worked extensively on the alignment of grade-level instruction to the Common Core for English Language Arts and Mathematics.

Tom Jenkins, Tch Laureate

Tom JenkinsI’m an eighth grade STEM teacher in Springfield, Ohio, and I’ve been teaching for 18 years. I’m also the football coach and serve as the Boeing Science Laureate at Teaching Channel. I teach at Greenon Local Schools, which is a fairly typical Midwestern, suburban/rural school district. We’re a working class community that was hit hard by the recent decline in manufacturing.

I’m a lifelong learner with an eagerness to help others, and I’ve always learned something along the way as a result. I do my best to share my affinity for a growth mindset and positive risk taking with my students. I love cross-curricular, team-taught lessons and work with a very open minded eighth grade team.

Sean McComb, Tch Laureate

Sean McCombFor ten years, I’ve been teaching students English Language Arts at Patapsco High School & Center for the Arts, in Baltimore, Maryland. I’ve focused my growth on writing instruction, student inquiry, digital tool integration, and project-based learning. Patapsco has about 60% free-and-reduced meal-eligible students, the vast majority of whom are hoping to be the first in their family to attend college. I have spent eight of my ten years at Patapsco teaching students in the AVID college-readiness program, focusing on the whole student, meta-cognition, and growth as a learner. While some of our students engage in learning because of intrinsic motivation or expectations from home, many choose to engage authentically only when the learning is compelling. This has driven me to be a more creative, adaptive teacher.

Outside of the classroom, I work as a central office resource teacher supporting our instructional coaches. In this role, I help teachers throughout our district transition to student-centered environments at the secondary level. For us, this means leveraging ongoing formative assessment, instruction through flexible grouping, and integrating digital tools.

Crystal Morey, Tch Laureate

Crystal MoreyI am a middle school math educator in Enumclaw, Washington. For eight years I have taught grades five through eight, at both elementary and middle levels. My strengths in the classroom include a focus on inquiry-based mathematics instruction through hands-on learning paired with rich tasks. I also focus on using questioning strategies to help students confront their own misunderstandings in mathematics.

Every day I educate nearly 135 students, including ELL and SPED push-in students. As an experienced teacher in a rural community, I work with many families that have limited access or knowledge about local services available to them. Encouraging a connection with our school, such as connecting them to counseling services or online computer applications that would best serve their student, is critically important for continued collaboration and development in our community. In addition to being an educator and Teaching Channel Laureate, I work with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington State as a teacher leader.

Lynne Olmos, Core Advocate

Lynne OlmosI teach secondary English and Drama in a small, rural district in Western Washington State. My students are my focus, and I’m constantly looking for creative ways to engage them, especially through integrating the arts in my lessons. Our school serves an amazingly diverse population that my classroom reflects. For instance, there are students who represent migrant families from Mexico, Honduras, Yemen, and China — and that’s just in my first period class!

We face the typical challenges that rural schools with socioeconomic challenges must address; our students frequently struggle to put academics first when they face disruptions in their home, often due to rising poverty and unemployment. To meet their needs, I tailor instruction in my classroom to fit many different learning styles and abilities. I serve ELL students, students with individualized education programs, gifted students, and students with extraordinarily diverse abilities and interests. Keeping them motivated and engaged is my first priority. Outside the classroom, most of my work involves standards and assessment. I serve on committees that create, review, and score assessments. I have also served on several standards committees, including the ELA Standards Committee for NBPTS and, currently, the Standards Committee for Educators Rising.

How to Participate
If you have a question about Common Core that you’d like answered by one of these teacher-leaders (educators), follow these simple instructions:

1. Sign in or register for an account on Teaching Channel.
2. Post your question in the Q&A area. Make sure to tag your question with “Common Core.”
3. When your questions have been responded to, you’ll receive an email alert.
4. Spread the word to other educators! Help your friends and colleagues get their questions answered, too.

Here at Teaching Channel and Student Achievement Partners, we hope you’ll join us for this collaborative learning opportunity. We’re so excited to read all of your questions about the Standards, and hopefully provide you with the answers you’ve been looking for!

Haile Bennett is currently combining her passions for education and communication as the Digital Team Intern at Student Achievement Partners. She earned her Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Communication with a focus on Mediated Communication from Villanova University.

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