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First of all, YES I do believe that we need data.  It is important to have data to look at to help you plan, to assess students, etc.  However, my question still is –WHAT DATA is TRULY VALUABLE?  It is also report card time.  I have spent the last couple of nights looking at rubrics and assessments included in our common core modules.  I have to say, the ELA I am pleased!  I was even pleased with the Math Mid-Unit Assessment module.  To me, this was good information.  How to apply it to the report card (which is incredibly outdated and yes I have to handwrite comments!!) I am not so sure.  I will share the rubric and the testing data with the parents, but I am left wondering if they will even understand it.  Dare I say…will they care?  I have some that will.  But what I am finding is that parents are in uproar over this whole common core stuff. However, I really feel that it is because they do not know the facts.

Now, I am not a Common Core fact tracker.  However, I am tired of the media and how they are twisting the facts.  It, quite honestly, has made a huge communication problem between schools and parents.  People, I am sick of hearing the negativity! I am tired of the nasty parent letters saying Common Core is bad and they do not want their child learning Common Core, blah, blah, blah.  First of all, Common Core – it is a set of STANDARDS!  These are skills that your child should be able to do.  Quite honestly, when I look at the old standards we had to follow before Common Core came along….PEOPLE THEY ARE PRETTY MUCH THE SAME!  If anything the Common Core breaks it down even more.  If you look at the standards, I think you will like them.  They make sense.  Finding out the  main idea, writing, speaking, listening to effectively communicate, being able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.  Yes, you need these skills!

You know what?? Kids can handle delicate topics.  Our ELA module deals with the power of reading and an education.  Hello??? GREAT topic.  TO understand the importance of reading and how reading is knowledge.  Getting an education will help you to succeed in life – WOW!  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  This module has some delicate conversations.  Parents – do not think your child does not tell us what happens at home :-P.  They do.  We have read some books that deal with the topic of war in this module.  They are true books.  I want you to know that the children have enjoyed them.  They have begun to understand that we live in a country that is free and that we are lucky to be safe.  When we read the first book together, which by the way is called Nasreen’s Secret School, the children were very quiet.  They could not understand the concept of children, let alone girls not being able to go to school.  They didn’t understand that this girl had her father taken away.  They did not understand the Taliban.  We had some discussions.  What they did understand – that it is not fair to have war.  It was not fair that Nasreen and the others could not go to school, so had to go to a secret school, they learned that Afghanistan was a beautiful country before the war.  They, again, learned that they are lucky to be in the USA.  Yes, I had a few kids go home and talk to their parents.  I know it because they came in the next day and said my parents want to know why we are reading about war and the book had a gun in it.  YUP – parents not understanding the facts.  I said well, does war happen? Yes they said.  I said are we learning about Veterans Day too? Yup, they said.  I said did we have Americans using guns and fighting in the wars to keep us safe? Yup, they said.  I said okay, are we glad that we live here and not where Nasreen lives? YES! Okay, the point of the story is to understand other people and where they come from and how the power of reading and an education helped her to understand life outside of Afghanistan.  It allowed her to see the good that does exist in the world.  However, unfortunately, not every child or person has it made the way we do in America.  I think the kids got it.  Did they go home and tell their parents? I do not know, but no other questions came up the next day.

We also read another book The Librarian of Basra.  Another true story about a librarian who risks her life to save book in a library while a war is going on.  After she and her friends save the books, the library is blown up 9 days later.  In the beginning it talks about how the library was a gathering place for people in the community to read, to talk, etc.  It then goes on to say ho the talk turned to the people being worried if the war was going to come closer.  Obviously it does.  Then of course you learn that people help save the books because they were precious to them.  They dream of peace  and war to be over.  Again, it was quiet and the kids said it was sad.  Yes, war is sad.  This book was part of their final assessment to the unit.  They had to answer text dependent questions using details from the text.  I am happy to say that I have looked at them and the children did well.  They did how I thought they would.  Do not get me wrong – not all of my kids are perfect nor are they all on grade level.  However, I have to have whole group instruction ELA.  I need parents to understand what is expected of their child at this grade level.  Do not worry, I still do guided reading groups where they read books on their own level.  I will be sharing this rubric and assessment with the parents.  Some will I am sure question the fact that the book was about a war.  It had a much better lesson and theme than the war people!  Get your head out of your arse! And, I think we can’t have our children living in bubbles.  They need to know what is out there.  Children can do WAY MORE than you think they can.  Quite honestly, we need to make children more independent thinkers.  I am asking parents to PLEASE let their child take risks in school.  They will learn.  They are going to fail at some of these things.  What is important is that they do NOT give up and keep plugging away.  They will get it! This is ONE assessment I will be showing parents.  This is what is expected of their child at this grade level.  Yes, your child may not be reading at this grade level, however you need to know that.  Wouldn’t you want to know what you child should be reading? I will also share STAR reading results.  This shows what level your child is reading on.  Quite frankly if I had a child that is reading two grade levels below I might become concerned and read more with my child or try to help her get on grade level.  The STAR will show the parents where their child is and also if they are making progress. If they are making progress, GREAT! If not, we really need to look at ways to help them to make progress.  Believe me all kids learn at a different rate.  I get that! I look to see that they are making progress.

This post is long already, so I am leaving it at that.  I will talk more about the math another time.  What are your thoughts on Common Core?  Please look at the standards and read them before you judge.  Do not necessarily believe the media.

Thanks for reading!

As for me, back to looking at data and report cards 😛