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

“Once you learn to read you will be forever free.” Frederick Douglass

As I get ready to retire from CORE in late December, I have been looking back at all of those who guided us along the way. CORE started inside an education, public policy think tank because of the willingness and vision of my then boss, Paul Berman. He, in turn, was urged by Marion Joseph, a grandmother with political acumen and a former California state board of education member, who saw the damage being done to children in California who were not learning to read. Bill Honig, California’s former superintendent, Anne Cunningham, Sheila Mandel, and Ruth Nathan and I took a leap in 1995 and decided to create what was first called the Consortium on Reading Excellence (CORE). We knew that a strong body of research existed, then over 30 years’ worth, but it had not made its way into the field. California’s reading scores were awful and whole language was the main approach. (more…)

Like many educators, teacher/consultant David Hedges has been teaching his 7th graders using a hybrid model this school year. Each day, Mr. Hedges has students sitting at socially distanced desks in his classroom as well as students joining by Zoom. Watch the 30-minute conversation with CORE’s Director of Mathematics, Dean Ballard, to learn Mr. Hedge’s tips for keeping students engaged both online and in person, about collaboration tools to support hybrid instruction, and how to build community among students learning in different locations.

Dean BallardBy Dean Ballard, Director of Mathematics, CORE

Remote instruction has moved to the top of almost everyone’s list of concerns. We are asking ourselves how to do it, will students be there, what will actually be learned, and what will this mean when we return to face-to-face instruction? I cannot tackle all of this in one blog; however, I will share a few of the techniques we have been using in the last few months to create high levels of engagement online.

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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…)