Archives for September 2013

Meeting Common Core challenges

With the Common Core standards making their way into classrooms, we know you are rethinking how you spend your instructional time. The question on many teachers’ minds: How can we bring the standards to life in the classroom and in our districts? In the spring, the Center for Teaching Quality in North Carolina hosted three webinars on this subject, and teachers shared their philosophies. Some examples are featured here:

• A high school history teacher in North Carolina offers his students an array of digital and print resources, including online magazines, newspapers and blogs, to challenge their historical interpretation of events.

• Middle school teachers in Nevada are integrating science and writing standards with specially designed writing prompts.

• A Florida fifth-grade teacher urges her students to share funny stories, using laughter as a tool for enhancing learning.

• Kentucky high school math teachers provide a full-time math coach for students who need extra help.

• A North Carolina elementary-level teacher gives her students an interest survey at the beginning of each school year to guide them to books they enjoy at appropriate reading levels.

• An Iowa high school English teacher advises using more accessible texts to teach more difficult skills such as analysis. This might include a book students already have read or a short or layered text.

The key themes that emerged during the sessions were:

• Teaching through inquiry and questioning

• Cultivating authentic learning

• Focusing on communication

• Attending to the whole learner

• Teaching the reader, not the text

• Integrating disciplines to deepen learning

• Collaborating within and beyond the classroom

• Creating the time and space necessary for success

Read more about some of these ideas by accessing these instructional resources:

• Reading Log at

• VoiceThread: A cloud-based verbal communication tool at

• Learning to Think with Dry Erase Ink:

Recommended professional readings:

• Differentiating Instruction with Menus by Laurie E. Westphal

• Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

• The Daily Five by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser

• The Laughing Classroom: Everyone’s Guide to Teaching with Humor and Play by Diane Loomans

Visit for more information about classroom innovation.