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Common Core and CSC Class Meetings: What’s the Connection?

It was like being the ultimate Common Core insider. One of the writers of the 2014–15 math assessments was briefing us on what the test is going to look like and how to prepare our students…starting NOW! The surprise was the connection to strategies in the Caring School Community Class Meetings (pdf).

Alan Schoenfeld from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium was walking our district administrators through Common Core math test questions and our collective math anxiety was steadily rising. He began to describe how today’s math instruction is going to have to change for students to be ready for the 2014 tests. I was surprised that Schoenfeld’s description overlapped so many key elements of a CSC Class Meeting:

Common Core Productive Classroom CSC Class Meetings
The content (in this case, math) has to be “real” and relevant to students Topic is authentic and relevant.
Students need to be engaged in “productive struggle” around divergent thinking. Students share original, innovative, personal observations, ideas and opinions and display the confidence to explain and defend them.
Students have to take ownership of their ideas; with the skill and opportunity to express them. Students build respectful, supportive relationships allowing them to take the risks that true learning entails.
All students will be actively learning as individuals, with partners and in groups. Students learn how to work with others in cooperative structures where it is safe to express their own ideas and benefit from the ideas of others.

While Schoenfeld didn’t directly connect his Common Core “productive classroom” to CSC Class Meetings he made it abundantly clear what will happen if we don’t start using these strategies in our classrooms. We can expect a 40–45% drop in student math test scores in 2014–15! Schoenfeld didn’t sugarcoat the consequences of making these changes now—our CST math scores will probably take short-term single digit hits this year and next. So, no matter what we are in for a roller coaster ride during this transition to the Common Core. Most administrators were stunned. And even though some of them had CSC at their school sites few were able to connect it to math instruction.

I made a beeline to the head of the math department and we have scheduled a series of meetings to begin a new collaboration so that CSC Class Meeting strategies can become part of district math instruction ASAP.

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