February Toolkit: Mission and Transfer within the CCSS
Before the next faculty meeting, read your district’s mission statement. (Ours is on the district web site.)
A well-crafted mission statement is all about transfer: making sure that what we do has lasting impact on students beyond their years in our classrooms.
Consider these questions as you read:
- How (if at all) does the district mission statement reflect what happens on a daily basis in your school or classroom?
- If your school has fulfilled the mission, what would a student look like as they move on to the next stage of their life?
- BONUS: Comment on this blog with your reflections and a link to your district’s mission statement.
Try this activity in a faculty or team meeting:
Transfer in Practice
- Divide into teams of 3–4 teachers. If you already have natural team divisions (content areas, grade levels, etc.), use those.
- Each team should choose to focus on either math or ELA/Literacy:
- Math team: read the Standards for Mathematical Practice.
- ELA team: read either the Anchor Standards for Reading or the Anchor Standards for Writing.
- Come up with at least two concrete examples of a real-world application of the standards you are examining. In other words, how does this standard translate into a person’s successful life as an adult.
- Share the examples.
- BONUS: Draw any connections you see to the district mission statement.
Choose one math or ELA standard from the links above. (Don’t attempt to drill down into the specific content standards yet–focus on the Anchor and Practice standards.) Design one activity or lesson each week around that standard, with the goal of having students be able (eventually) to use that skill without prompting in a novel situation. You may continue to focus on the same standard for several weeks, or pick a new one each week.
Also, continue the daily practices suggested last month:
- Alert: Explicitly draw students’ attention to the transfer goal by pointing out how the skill is useful outside of school, or by demonstrating an example of how you have used it in practice.
- Predict: Ask students after a lesson to predict when the skill, concept, or topic would apply to something outside of school, or how their parents might need to use it.
- Connect: Talk about how this topic or skill connects to something they learned earlier in the year, something they will be learning in a later unit, or something from a different subject.
- Reflect: Ask students to reflect on their own use and understanding of the skill. What works? What doesn’t? How could you understand better?
BONUS: Share publicly (in a blog post, on a teacher-community web site, or in the comments of this blog) your activity or lesson plan with a reflection about the outcome.
Here are a few more resources on transfer that you can check out if you want to learn more or dig deeper:
- Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics. A good example of why transfer is am important goal for mathematics instruction.
- Common Core Practice: Lesson Plans in the New York Times
- New Reading Standards Aim to Prep Kids for College–But at What Cost?. A piece for reflection: what should drive the curriculum? Standards or mission? Which serves the other?
Coming next month…
Simple adjustments you can start to make now that will begin to transform your classroom even while you await revisions to the curriculum.