Teachers prepare for new standards

Teachers prepare for new standards
Teachers from Carlsbad Unified School District learn techniques to help students remember key lessons.

CARLSBAD— Pool floaties and water guns have been replaced with markers and backpacks in store aisles, signaling the inevitable end of summer. With it, teachers are preparing their lesson plans to prepare for incoming students.

The Carlsbad Unified School District took one more step to prepare teachers by hosting a two-day professional development seminar focused on the Common Core State Standards, which were adopted by California in August 2010.

The seminar took place the Wednesday and Thursday before the beginning of the term on Aug. 26. More than 300 kindergarten through fifth grade teachers attended the seminar at Poinsettia Elementary School.

A separate seminar was given to sixth through twelfth grade teachers as well.

Kimberly Huesing, Director of Elementary Education, said some teachers were reluctant to come back a day early but the seminar was well received once it got underway.

Shane Little, third grade teacher at Buena Vista Elementary School agreed.

“I think veteran teachers and new teachers are all benefitting,” said Little.

He thinks of the changes in standards as more of a shift. . “It’s a shift to more critical thinking in both math and reading,” said Little.

Ellie Restivo, Educational Specialist at Poinsettia Elementary School said the strategies the teachers are learning help the students.

“There’s so many new standards,” said Restivo, “All the things that we’re doing in schools that are different help the students become better and deeper thinkers and deeper readers. So it’s good for us to [all have the same] strategies to improve student learning.”

The Common Core standards have been adopted by 43 states. The K-12 standards allow teachers to track the development of their students and ensure they’re on a path to success.

“They took most of the things we were already doing and re-leveled them to more closely match what developmental level students are at,” said Little.

The standards integrate lessons more closely so students learn more subjects at once.  Instead of simply learning to read or to write, students learn to read and write about science, said Restivo.

“It’s not that we have a new curriculum, it’s that we’re presenting the curriculum in a different way, which puts the responsibility on the learner,” said Restivo, “so that hopefully they’ll be able to remember and understand the science better and be able to apply it.”

The seminar was paid for by state funds allocated for implementation of the Common Core Standards said Huesing. Each district decides how to spend the funds and CUSD decided to use some on professional development.

It’s the first professional development seminar the district has been able to host in the past few years, because of budget cuts.

“It’s really difficult once the year gets started. You have your roster and you’re focused on your 30 to 35 kids,” said Huesing. “So to start the year out with really strategic professional development, it sets the tone of the conversation for the rest of the year.”

The Common Core Standards rollout in CUSD started with math last year. This year’s focus will be the language arts.

Another follow-up seminar will be held for teachers in January.



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