Nancy McGivneyBy Nancy McGivney, Senior Educational Services Specialist, CORE

In one of my favorite movies, The Gods Must Be Crazy, there were two side characters who drove the jeep in their guerrilla warfare army. Whenever there was a stop in the movement forward, they’d pull out a deck of cards and get back into whatever game they were playing. I totally relate to them. I’m happy to carry around a deck of UNO cards and keep a running game going. Card games are good for more than occupying time; they are also great for developing math skills. During this time of school closures, card games are an excellent way to continue to develop math skills at home and make use of resources likely available. (more…)

Zaretta HammondAn important Conversation from the Center for the Collaborative Classroom with Zaretta Hammond on Instructional Equity. Reprinted with permission.

Collaborative Classroom is dedicated to transforming the school experience, developing students, and empowering educators by deepening their teaching practices. Zaretta Hammond is one of Collaborative Classroom’s best thought partners in this work, consistently pushing their thinking and challenging them to do better. A national education consultant for the past 25 years and the author of the best-selling book, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students, Ms. Hammond joined the Collaborative Classroom Board of Trustees in November 2018. Collaborative Classroom recently had the privilege of discussing instructional equity­—both the big picture and classroom practice—with Ms. Hammond. We’re delighted to share excerpts from this rich, wide-ranging conversation with you. (more…)

Linda Diamondby Linda Diamond, President, CORE and author of Teaching Reading Sourcebook and Assessing Reading: Multiple Measures

I write to you, colleagues in education, with a deep sense of sadness and unease as I continue to watch the events that are unfolding in our communities and in our nation. At no time that I can recall has our country been so divided and so traumatized. We have been living in the midst of a public health crisis and an economic and unemployment crisis of staggering proportions. These conditions already impacted the most vulnerable in our country and hit the Black community hard. But now the chilling and brutal murder of George Floyd escalated the crisis in our country and rekindled fear and outrage, particularly among Black Americans for whom this killing is all too familiar. As educators striving for equity and educational and social justice, we must redouble our efforts to increase awareness of the discrimination that exists in our country and in our educational institutions. (more…)

CORE, Pivot learning, and Center for the Collaborative Classroom have been examining our own practices with a critical eye, looking for ways to better equip educators with the tools and support they need to connect with a diverse student population that has been adversely affected by school closures. When we look ahead, we understand school will likely look different in ways we cannot even imagine.

To support our educator partners, we offer guidance and resources that can be used over the summer and taken into the fall to support students both academically and socially. Pivot Learning’s CEO, Arun Ramanathan, and Collaborative Classroom’s President and COO, Kelly Stuart, share what we believe is essential for making sure our students don’t fall behind. Read their commentary on the Collaborative Circle blog.

Our partners at Center for the Collaborative Classroom recently interviewed Michelle Rodriguez, EdD, superintendent of Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) in Watsonville, California and CORE’ president, Linda Diamond about the current reality of remote learning, how and why Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics, and Sight Words (SIPPS) is a key component of PVUSD’s impressive achievements in improving student literacy outcomes, and how a strong change-management approach has positioned PVUSD for long-term success. Read the interview in the Collaborative Circle blog.

Also be sure to read a commentary by Pivot Learning’s CEO, Arun Ramanathan, and Collaborative Classroom’s Kelly Stewart about the guidance and resources being offered by CORE, Pivot Learning and Collaborative Classroom that can be used over the summer and taken into the fall to support students both academically and socially. Read what we believe is essential for making sure our students don’t fall behind in Resources for Reconnecting and Accelerating Student Learning.

Written by Arun Ramanathan, CEO, Pivot Learning, featured in EdSource

Since schools were closed two months ago to curb the spread of the coronavirus, changes have come so fast it has been difficult to get our bearings. But as the educational picture has come into focus, it is clear that students are losing critical months of learning. The students who can least afford to lose that learning — English Learners, foster youth and students with disabilities — are taking the biggest hits. Addressing this situation will take state leadership.

The planning should begin with recognizing the limits of virtual learning. Overburdened parents are thankful for anything that engages their children, but ensuring availability of internet access and devices are the just the first steps. Every other element is dependent on the capacity of teachers, students and parents.

Distance learning is difficult enough for middle-class parents in a single-family home, but it is far more difficult for low-income families in smaller residences — not to mention homeless families. For students with disabilities such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism, the situation may be untenable educationally and emotionally. Nor can we expect non-English speaking parents to teach their children English. The longer we stay in this situation, the more we will deepen the structural and racial inequities in our education system. (more…)

Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) in Watsonville, CA wasted no time. In early January as concerns about COVID-19 were just beginning to surface in the United States, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Rodriguez moved quickly to implement a distance learning plan for the district in order to minimize the learning loss that would be unavoidable once California’s Shelter in Place order went into effect.

First, Dr. Rodriguez wanted to ensure all students had access to online distance learning. By getting Chromebooks and hotspots into the hands of her students, this goal was readily achieved. But given the diverse population of the district — 66% English learners, 81% in poverty, 14% special education, 16% without permanent housing, and 10% migrant — having the right hardware and software was not enough. Dr. Rodriguez created a robust tech support network for parents and teachers to turn to for help getting online, using applications, and accessing the other remote learning tools being offered by the district. (more…)

by Nancy McGivney, Senior Educational Services Specialist, CORE

Here we are confined at home with our little darlings wanting attention while we want to keep their learning happening. One of the best ways to be close to our children and further their learning is through Read Alouds. A Read Aloud is exactly what it says: read a book aloud to your children. As a number wonk, I’m inclined to choose kids’ books with math in them. Here are five of my favorites that come highly recommended based on ample experiences with my granddaughters. (more…)

by Susan Van Zant and Nancy Volpe, Educational Services Specialists, CORE

Susan Van ZantNancy VolpeWhat can be done to maximize the time that students are in school?

There is no mystery about time. Students attend school a set number of hours each week and days each year. At each grade level they have a lot of skills and knowledge to learn. Establishing specific times that reading and math are taught is a good beginning. However, if time is not used efficiently during the allocated periods, student learning time is lost. Often precious minutes slip away because good time management practices are not in place.

Ten minutes might not seem like much, but it can add up. For example, students take three minutes to enter the class and quiet down, the teacher waits two minutes while three students look for their materials, a student sharpens a pencil for a minute, one group needs three minutes to transition to another, and a class disruption lasts for a minute. It all adds up. Just 10 minutes a day adds up to 50 minutes a week. In a typical school year, it would add up to about 1,800 minutes. Divide that 1,800 minutes a year by 180 days of school, and that is the equivalent of 10 school days lost. (more…)

CORE Curriculum Implementation ShowcaseImplementing a new curriculum is a challenging process. Often the organization, layout, and even the instructional approach can be drastically different from the previously used curriculum. Change takes time, especially if that change includes learning new instructional practices. Taguma and Barrera (2019) cite teacher commitment, beliefs, and content and pedagogical understanding of the new curriculum as key factors that either facilitate or impede successful curriculum implementation. (more…)