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'Common Core Express' makes 1st run

Parents hear of new programs and policies at the Common Core Express meeting.

The Common Core Express was loaded with interested parents, teachers and community members at the Carbon School District Office recently. The participants had come to hear about the new common core standards that will begin to be implemented as early as next fall.

An overview of these changes was addressed by Patsy Bueno, district superintendent. "Our Utah State Board of Education is ready to play an active role in this process and have started the process of adoption. Here in Carbon School District, we are making plans for reading, math, and English/language arts. Additionally, we will begin to involve all of our content areas with 'across the curriculum' writing," she said.

District curriculum specialists and literacy coaches conducted 20 minute rotating sessions to explain changes in reading, writing, and math. Clara Jenson, literacy coach at Castle Heights Elementary School, explained the major changes in reading. "In the new common core standards, grade level reading expectations will be higher. In schools, we will focus on comprehension skills and encourage higher level thinking with specific questioning strategies. Parents can play an important part in a child's reading by first knowing their child's reading level, encouraging them to read higher level books with parental support, and talking about the reading."

All five elementary schools in Carbon School District have literacy coaches. Parents were encouraged to work with classroom teachers and literacy coaches to support reading efforts.

Mika Salas, district secondary math specialist, will be supporting the efforts in math. "In the area of mathematics, there is a total shift in thinking. Math classes will no longer have the familiar names of Algebra 1 or Geometry. But, algebra concepts and geometry concepts will be imbedded in classes like Math 7 or Math 8. We are working very hard right now to address the needs of both proficient and non-proficient students."

The district English/Language Arts specialist, Kristen Taylor, indicated that this content area will change primarily in the rigor expected of students. "We have had a vertical team in place for nearly ten years. That means that we are teaching common strategies and common formats for the three types of writing. This will not change in the common core. What will change is the amount of research and the amount of nonfiction literature students will be required to read and understand. What we need from parents is a high expectation for their children," she said.

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