Oklahoma education in 2014: Common Core State Standards to emphasize reading, writing in all subjects
BY KIM ARCHER World Staff Writer
Sunday, December 09, 2012
12/09/12 at 4:42 AM
OWASSO - Reading and writing will no longer be just the domain of English teachers under new national voluntary standards headed to Oklahoma public schools in 2014.
Math, science, social studies and history teachers will also infuse their teaching with literacy instruction as part of the move to Common Core State Standards.
"It's a big change. It's not just reading/language arts anymore," said Angela Parks, elementary curriculum coordinator for Owasso Public Schools. "It's literacy and writing in math, science and social studies."
The Common Core State Standards initiative is a state-led effort to provide curriculum standards that are consistent throughout the country, beginning with English and math. The aim is to ensure all students are subject to the same benchmarks and that children get a deeper and more rigorous education.
Oklahoma is among 45 states and three U.S. territories that adopted the standards. Minnesota adopted the English standards. Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia have not adopted either.
Several Tulsa area school districts are training their teachers in how to bolster their teaching to help children reach the common core standards.
Owasso Public Schools has hired literacy expert Ken Stamatis, a professor at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., to provide intensive training for teachers leading up to the 2014 implementation.
"We have awesome science and social studies teachers who say, 'I've never taught reading and writing.' So this equips them with those kind of skills and resources and the go-to people," Parks said.
Stamatis has taught literacy strategies at several area district schools so far.
In a recent question-and-answer session in Owasso, he spoke about the importance of teachers modeling for their students. If teachers aren't reading, then students aren't reading, he said.
"Your reading journey is really valuable," Stamatis said. "If you don't have engagement, you don't have anything."
Parks said Stamatis models how to inject literacy into teaching as part of the training for Owasso teachers. He teaches children a session as teachers watch via Skype. Afterward, he discusses the session with those teachers.
"(The teachers) love it," she said. "At first, they were like, 'What? Why is this so long?' " But they have begun to see how the two-year training program will help them inject literacy into every subject, Parks said.
"We're trying to be proactive. We're really stepping out and trying to equip all our teachers with what they're going to need to address these objectives and help all our kids," she said.
Dana Consalvi, who teaches fourth-grade math, science and social studies at Owasso's Smith Elementary School, said the common core standards have rejuvenated her love of teaching.
"I've actually felt more alive this year teaching than I have in many, many years," the 23-year teaching veteran said.
The common core standards demand more of teachers, to dig deeper and to discover reading materials that will underpin and provide resonance in what children are learning.
"The common core is almost a way of thinking," Consalvi said. "You can't just teach out of the book. It's going to take more of me."
But she said she is happy to give more because children today are facing issues that most adults have never faced.
"I have to do more as a teacher to help them overcome some of these obstacles," Consalvi said. "I want my students to know that, as their teacher, I love them."
Myths vs. facts about Common Core standards
Myth: Adopting common standards will bring all states' standards down to the lowest common denominator.
Fact: The standards are designed to build upon the most advanced current thinking about preparing all students for success in college and their careers. There has been an explicit agreement that no state would lower its standards.
Myth: The standards are not internationally benchmarked.
Fact: International benchmarking played a significant role in both sets of standards.
Myth: The standards include only skills and do not address the importance of content knowledge.
Fact: The standards recognize that both content and skills are important.
Myth: No teachers were involved in writing the standards.
Fact: The common core state standards drafting process relied on teachers and standards experts from across the country. In addition, there were many state experts who came together to create the most thoughtful and transparent process of standard-setting. This was only made possible by many states working together.
Myth: The standards are not research- or evidence-based.
Fact: The standards have made careful use of a large and growing body of evidence.
Myth: The standards tell teachers what to teach.
Fact: The best understanding of what works in the classroom comes from the teachers who are in them. That's why these standards will establish what students need to learn, but they will not dictate how teachers should teach. Instead, schools and teachers will decide how best to help students reach the standards.
Myth: These standards amount to a national curriculum for our schools.
Fact: The standards are not a curriculum. They are a clear set of shared goals and expectations for what knowledge and skills will help our students succeed. Local teachers, principals, superintendents and others will decide how the standards are to be met. Teachers will continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms.
Myth: The federal government will take over ownership of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
Fact: The federal government will not govern the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The initiative was and will remain a state-led effort.
Original Print Headline: New standards infuse literacy
Kim Archer 918-581-8315
Ken Stamatis, literacy professor at Harding University in Arkansas, answers questions from Owasso area elementary school teachers at Ator Elementary School. The meeting is part of a training program to prepare for the 2014 implementation of Common Core State Standards, which emphasizes reading and writing in all subjects. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World