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…)

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.

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…)

Dean BallardBy Dean Ballard, Director of Mathematics, CORE

Implementing a new curriculum is a daunting task. Often the organization, layout, and even the instructional approach can be drastically different than the previously used curriculum. Change takes time, especially if that change includes learning new instructional approaches. Therefore, the first year or two of implementing a new curriculum may be focused on changing instructional practices and deepening the knowledge base of teachers and instructional leaders. 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. For example, if teachers do not know some of the new pedagogy that is embedded within the new curriculum, they will need more professional learning and support.

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

Nowadays the ability to answer text-dependent questions is essential to do well on standardized tests of all types.  Students often have a difficult time using information from the text to answer comprehension questions, particularly inferential questions which require them to cross reference text and dig out answers that are not plainly stated.  Question-Answer Relationships (QAR) is an instructional technique designed to teach students to use metacognitive thinking to determine what they need to do in order to answer questions commonly found on high-stakes, summative assessments.

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Ann LeonCongratulations to Ann Leon, a member of CORE’s Educational Services Team, for being awarded the California Reading & Literature Project: John Shefelbine Award for Leadership in Literacy. Ann is a 2019 CSU Sacramento Region recipient along with Johanna Kirkman, co-director of the California Reading & Literature Project.

In addition to 20 years as an elementary teacher, Ann has spent 19 years in the roles of intervention teacher, reading specialist, instructional coach, BTSA (beginning teacher) support provider, assistant principal, and literacy consultant. Ann had the privilege to learn from and work closely with the late John Shefelbine, lead author of SIPPS (Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics, & Sight Words, © 2001, 2007, 2014) from 2000 to 2016. Her own growth and dedication evolved into supporting principals and teachers in professional learning – making instructional shifts toward powerful reading instruction by identifying and using Scientifically-Based Reading Research methods and programs, deepening teacher knowledge in their current practice, and utilizing a lesson study approach in working with students to support teachers.

We are proud of the work Ann does with educators across the country as a CORE Educational Services Consultant and are thrilled that she has achieved this honor.