The motto at Delevan Elementary is “We are in this together and better collectively than we are separately.” The Common Core Learning standards have been a guiding force in instruction as well as a learning process for ALL K-4 teachers including special area teachers, who have made a significant contribution to the movement. “Common Core and the six instructional shifts methodology does not silence the creative voice; it enhances the aesthetic process and provides opportunity for higher level thinking skills” (engageny.org).
The special area teachers at Delevan have seamlessly and consistently integrated both the Common Core ELA and Mathematics standards into their curriculum. In both art and music classes, students create, explore, build vocabulary, and complete written reflections/self-assessments aligned to the CCLS Writing standards. To hook the students into a new unit, visuals and technology resources are used along with historical background that aligns to the CCLS Informational Reading standards. Students are provided with weekly experiences that provide Career and College Readiness skills along with the 4 C’s in 21st Century Learning; critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. “The Common Core Learning standards act as a thread that helps knit together a well-rounded learning experience for every student while supporting colleagues cross- curricular” (www.engageny.org).
In the library media center, lessons are aligned to appropriate grade level Common Core Reading and Writing Learning standards. Students in Grades K-4 are exposed to reading and writing across a variety of genres including narrative, expository, and persuasive text. Students learn about author’s purpose, characteristics of nonfiction and fiction, text features and text structures. Students in the class learn how to collect information from multiple sources and compile it into a short research paper.
Physical Education is a place where students bodies are participating in physical activities, while their minds are critically thinking at the same time. Students participating in physical education classes are engaged in literacy infused lessons on a daily basis. Students are responsible for problem solving and peer collaboration. Thematic units that align with school wide literacy efforts are implemented. For example, K-4 students participated in an Olympic games unit that correlated with the school’s reading celebration, titled “Go For the Gold”. Also, students in K-4 had a reading competition. For each book read and Accelerated Reading quiz completed, students earned a gold, silver or bronze medal. Each grade level chose a country and created a flag to display in the gymnasium. All medals earned were displayed near the flag. The physical education teachers were instrumental in making this school wide literacy effort fall into place.
When students attend special area classes, they are” rocking the Common Core” by participating in the arts as readers, writers and thinkers!
By Colleen Root, CA BOCES and Pioneer Central School