Thank you
Core4All would like to thank the readers that have subscribed to the blog. In the short amount of time in existence, we have had over 370 views. We hope you are finding the information useful. Please continue to pass the link to fellow colleagues who want to make a change in their curriculum.

How it all began
The idea of Core4All originated from a conversation at a Barnes and Noble one summer evening sipping lattes (or it may have been diet colas). Our original goal was to create a one-hour presentation providing ELL teachers with instructional strategies that would improve the proficiency and achievement of English language learners. At the end of the evening, we came away with the creation of a book and a design template to help all teachers build units of study around skills and standards.  We believe the Common Core State Standards (www.corestandards.org), aligned with college and work expectations, focus on learning expectations and will improve the academic achievement of students.  There is no better time than the present to initiate these standards to unify our students and teachers.

Top 3 Benefits of the Common Core State Standards
1. The Common Core State Standards will provide more stability for the mobile student. In order to close the achievement gap once and for all we need consistency with learning targets for each grade level. Clear expectations across each county, state and nation will help create stability for students who move often due to economic and personal reasons.

2. The Common Core State Standards will provide students with the necessary skills to access higher education and to compete globally in the workforce. The Common Core is a vehicle that will assist educators in creating quality and fair skills-based instruction to all students.  The 21st century skills embedded in the Common Core will pave the way for students to  think, reflect, analyze, influence, evaluate, and communicate; in other words, become an individual who will lead in the 21st century global society. Look around your classroom. Who will be the leaders of tomorrow?

3. The Common Core State Standards will enhance teacher collaboration across the nation. When teachers across the nation are using the same standards and common language, collaboration becomes more meaningful. Professional development at conferences, professional organizations and across networks will be more powerful than ever. When teachers share best practice, students benefit.

Last week, we asked that you look at the Common Core State Standards and begin to read them, visualize how they can become the cornerstones of your curriculum.  This week, Core4All asks that your teacher-team zero in on one standard you would like to work with.  In the next few weeks, we will analyze standards and show how the SACI design template will help build a stellar unit of study.

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We may be familiar with the word “core” in terms of exercise.  Fitness experts state that the more we strengthen our core muscles (abs, back, pelvis), the easier it is to do physical activities.  Just as physical core training develops greater efficiency in movement, improves body control and balance, and increases performance, the Common Core State Standards (www.corestandards.org) also benefit a vital part of our bodies. THE BRAIN.  By using the Common Core as a vehicle to drive curriculum, students will improve their academic achievement; in other words, increase brain power.

What we have seen so far…

Since the adoption of the Common Core in June of 2010, it has been comical watching the “educational companies” send out their propaganda on how their materials correlate with the Common Core State Standards.  At least once a week, we have received email blasts from companies soliciting their products.

“Buy our product. It includes the Common Core State Standards!”
“No need to revamp your curriculum.  The Common Core fits right in!”
“Our educational program has already been aligned with the Common Core!”
“Partner with us and we’ll show you how to implement the Common Core into your existing curriculum!”

This is a weak attempt to try to profit from a new initiative. We saw this same approach when NCLB legislation was passed in 2002.  To put into exercise terms, you can’t get a 6-pack without changing your ab routine.

Education needs a fresh start

We must realize that the adoption of the Common Core does not mean plugging the standards into an already existing curriculum.  The adoption of the Common Core provides us with a great opportunity to start fresh, to begin with a new vision, one that puts student achievement at the core of the educational exercise plan.

SACI Design

In the coming weeks, Core4All will unveil its SACI Design Template, a systematized framework that will allow teacher teams to create units of study that puts the Common Core State Standards at the forefront of curriculum planning.  In a gist, the SACI process:
-Focuses on 2-3 standards that a learning team has decided that students need to become proficient in during the unit of study
-Creates a pre/post assessment to check how proficient students are prior to the unit of study and after instruction
-Incorporates non-negotiable curriculum content students must learn
-Uses only proven, research-based instructional strategies

We are beyond the point of reforming education. It is time to get into the gym and work our core before exercising the other parts.  By starting with the Common Core State Standards, we will build our foundation of learning which in turn will make our students stronger, ready to tackle the 21st century workplace.

What changes can you make to increase the brain power of your students?

Core4All hopes that you have been finding our posts to be useful.  If so, please forward our link to 2-3 colleagues who you feel would benefit from the information presented.  These are exciting times.  We believe that creating curriculum around the Common Core will build student capacity and brain power.  Whew!  Time to hit the showers.