Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Common Core: A Good Journey

(This is a blog post published by a teacher, interesting.)

Huffington Post
October 8, 2014
By Nicole J. Di Donato

Little heads bent over white-lined paper, pencils scratching out a story barely keeping up with the imaginative ideas swirling. I survey my third graders while they write -- their passion for what they have to say, and the diligence with which they tackle saying it is heart-warming. A few years ago, I wouldn't have asked my students to write a fictional story, narrative writing being difficult for young learners to handle with all of its many attributes. But along came the Common Core, and when it did, I was forced to rethink my stance, and find ways to begin teaching this style of writing. That was just the beginning of my journey with the new standards.

I am a teacher, and I support the Common Core State Standards. These days it feels like I need to keep this to myself. The Common Core seems like everyone's favorite initiative to hate, but exactly who are the critics? Politicians running in mid-term elections? Celebrities like Louis C.K.?

In the last few years, my colleagues and I have been stepping up the rigor and content of our instruction in response to the standards' implementation. Dare I say we have actually enjoyed this work? I must admit that Massachusetts' educators were lucky. Our former learning standards were comprehensive to begin with. For us, adopting the Common Core has been more of a shift than a radical change, but a shift I am more than happy to make if it leads to equal educational opportunities for students in all parts of the United States.

The Common Core is a list of vertically-aligned learning standards from grades K through 12. The skills build year to year, allowing students the opportunity to go deeper in their understanding of each standard as they mature as learners. This type of intentional, developmentally-appropriate plan for instruction is not easy to create, but yet, here it is, arguably one of the most sweeping education reforms in our country's history.

Where there are learning standards, there needs to be an assessment for measuring how schools are doing in their teaching. Of course an assessment tool needed to be developed to go with the Common Core. Massachusetts has chosen PARCC. It is computerized, although a paper/pencil version exists, and has been designed to match the rigor of the Common Core. Having seen samples of PARCC questions, it is definitely not a typical fill-in-the-bubble test, but one that will ask students to think critically about the information they are given.

Read more HERE.


Anonymous said...

For Christians, including Ms. Abell, you should be ashamed to be supporting a curriculum like this, especially when this is happening in your county.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Abell you will be exposed for the fraud that you are. You win elections by leveraging your March of Dimes position and your arrogance of not even campaigning is despicable. You are not untouchable. Siding with the Board against this Marine and his family, and lying about it is the last straw. I guess if they can vote for Obama, for his personality, then they can vote for you too. two peas in a pod. It is a shame people like you are deciding our kids futures. You are either misinformed or delusional, or does money speak louder then your Christian faith. Shame on you and you will have to someday atone for your sins, if you really are a Christian.

Jennifer Abell said...

To Anonymous #1 - That is one article covering the incident. Please read some of the other articles. There are some links listed below.

In addition, here is a link to the text used in the state mandated World History class.

Jennifer Abell said...

To Anonymous #2 - I'll try to address each one of your statements individually below.

I don't understand how i could be a fraud, i've never portrayed to be anything but a concerned parent myself. That was the reason I applied and was appointed back in 2004.

In addition, I don't understand how I'm leveraging my March of Dimes position, i don't recall mentioning it on this page.

I never claimed to be untouchable and don't think i am. Quite the contrary. I'm very accessible.

I don't actively, physically campaign because i'm not a politician. I am also disgusted with the politics in this country and how all politicians can be bought as well as their votes. I choose to NOT accept any money for my campaign and on a non-profit salary, as a single mom, i can't afford all campaign materials.

Siding with the board? That has me baffled because this event hasn't come before the board. We only meet the second Tuesday of each month to discuss business.

Lying about siding with the board? Again baffled. I don't know where or how i lied.

Comparing me to Obama is laughable for even people that don't know me well. That couldn't be furthest from the truth. I dislike Obama, have from the start, never voted for him, endorsed him, etc.

People like me deciding the kids future...hmmm...luckily (or unluckily)i don't decide that on my own. If I did, there would be ALOT of changes. For instance, I was out voted when the board first decided to accept the Race To The Top initiative which was the beginning of the MD. College and Career Standards, or Common Core as you call it. I voted against it. You can check my voting record.

As for money speaking louder than my christian faith? Again, you'll have to expand. I don't have a lot of money and don't get paid alot of money. My non profit salary if less than what a starting a teacher makes and i have been here for 13 years. As for my board position, i get a stipend of $4,000 a year which doesn't even cover the expense of everything.

As for being misinformed or delusional....i have been called a little crazy, and i agree im not informed on EVERYTHING, no one is, including yourself.

And yes, i am Christian, i am a Republican, I believe a parent is a childs first educator and should advocate for tehir child.

Thank you for your comments.

Jennifer Abell said...

To the Anonymous person from "" and "" sending me threatening emails about the LPHS incident and photos to try and blackmail me, I will not be intimidated. My posts and comments have not been slanderous or lies. The pictures you have are of me dancing and of me when I was sick. In addition,by process of elimination of attendees, i can ascertain your identity.

LegalBeaglette said...

This is tragic on so many levels, for so many people. I am frustrated the school system did not handle it better from the beginning. It is my understanding Dr. Hill reached out to the family yesterday; I hope that is true, and that everyone is working toward resolving this.

I applaud you, Ms. Abell, for not backing away from this, and for the monumental effort you have made to keep everyone informed. I am sorry you are dealing with some who lack restraint and are intent on malice, instead of trying to better understand what happened, why it happened, and what needs to be done to prevent such a conflagration of any issue associated with schools.

Unknown said...

I think this shows how open Ms Abell is and honest. She did not delete any of these comments. She didn't ignore them. She met them straight on, as she does everything, and answered calmly.
Something I sure would not have been able to do

Anonymous said...

MikeB said...

That Baynet story looks remarkably (as in word for word) like a press release from the Thomas More Law Center. In other words, it's not a news story; it's a propaganda piece released by the law center. The Baynet should have presented it as such when it reprinted it.