California Educator

May 2014

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Learning Cooper tries to limit her lecturing to once a week. "I try to be more the guide on the side and less the sage on the stage," she says. She prefers having stu- dents work in smaller groups because it's more likely everyone will pull their own weight, especially when a project outcome is involved. After the group discussion, Cooper asks students to report out. She adds some of their observations t o t h e g r a p h i c o r g a n i z e r o n t h e b o a r d . T h e c l a s s period has gone by quickly; lunch is just seven min- utes away, and she wants to give students some brief t i m e to s t a r t t h e i r h o m e wo rk a s s i g n m e n t . S h e te l l s them she wants their five or six paragraph essays to explain some of the evidence for evolution. She goes ove r s t r u c t u re by d raw i n g o u t t h e co n s t r u c t s o f a n essay from the students. " W h a t ' s y o u r f i r s t p a r a g r a p h g o i n g t o t e l l t h e reader? That's right, it's your hook or thesis." "Who's your audience? What kind of voice, tone and vocabulary are you going to use?" Lessons learned from early adopters So how is teaching diff erent under the Common Core? Four of your colleagues provide examples in science, reading and writing, Social studies and math. Science in Thousand Oaks By Frank Wells A s h l e y C o o p e r ' s n i n t h - g r a d e s c i e n c e c l a s s s t u d e n t s a t T h o u s a n d O a k s H i g h S c h o o l a re re c a p p i n g s o m e o f t h e evidence for evolution they studied before their vacation. Today's classwork will culminate with homework in which students will write an essay following the Common Core State Standards writing rubric on informative writing, and demonstrate proficiency in core English language arts standards specific to science and technical subjects. Cooper, an enthusiastic 14-year veteran, begins by choosing stu- d e n t s to re a d a l o u d f ro m a s h o r t i l l u s t ra te d p i e ce , "A C l o s e L o o k at Darwin's Finches." The text contains complex terms like "phy- logenetic" and "adaptive radiation," but the students don't seem to struggle. They show they grasp the material when asked to identify which diagrammed bird would be able to eat the largest nuts, and to infer something about the variety of insects on which the finches may have dined. The class then helps Cooper develop a graphic organizer of evi- dence for evolution on the front board. Students use their own layered construction paper "foldables" they have previously created on this subject, as well as the Prentice Hall biology textbook, to recall evi- dence categories they will later use in their essays: fossil records, homologous body structures, vestigial organs, natural selection, geo- graphic distribution, and embryology. After a brief discussion about each category and its connection to evolution, Cooper has the students break into groups of three or four to come up with supporting points for each area. Teaching ideas 44 M AY 2 0 1 4 Educator 05 May 2014 v1.6 int.indd 44 5/16/14 3:21 PM

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