Friday, July 25, 2014

Which Common Core websites made the Best of the Best List?


Websites for Teaching CCSS

photo from Photogen

It’s good to be back. This officially marks the beginning of Season Two. Common Core has gotten a bad rap over this past year. It has been brutally bashed, politicized, and crucified in some regionsso much so, that my husband (who remains loyal and would defend most all of my actions) sat me down and sternly asked “Tell me more about this Common Core.” 

      As I told him, I taught Common Core my last year in education (the 2011-2012 school year). There were no assessments from PARCC or Smarter Balanced. We followed the Gates’ Maps and were “doing” C.G.I. (Cognitive Guided Instruction) math without much/any training. Our school district was already doing business with an Arkansas based company called The Learning Institute who steered us with pacing and frequent periodic formative assessments. Life was good!

I felt like we had stepped back into the thematic teaching of the 90's but were well armed with the knowledge from the past twenty years. To me, not only was it fun to plan and fun to teach, the kids enjoyed the curriculum as well. They made countless connections throughout the school day. In fact, they thrived. We still taught algorithms in Math, but did a lot with mental math, and according to their next year's math teacher, DID NOT do nearly enough with deconstructing numbers. 

The biggest moment of truth for me was realizing how short-sighted my student expectations had been prior to CCSS. Ironically, if asked, I would argue and defend me always having very high expectations for my students. The Common Core curriculum proved me wrong. The rigor and the demands from CCSS are exactly what our students need. By the way, does any teacher ever claim to have low expectations for students?

Here’s the deal for today. I have promised a few folks some of my favorite CC links, so I thought I would share them here in the blog. They are in no particular order.

Many of you know I am a Pinterest junkie and I fell in love with The Hen House, Arkansas’ Common Core Pinterest Board, last summer. I have tried to keep up-to-date with their pins on my boards, but have fallen behind. There are 177 boards set up by grade level and each of the Gates’ modules. Some boards are more bountiful than others. 
Serves Grades K-12

I found this link last summer from Pulaski County Special School District in Central Arkansas, and almost cried when I thought I had lost the link. The organization makes it easy to navigate. Although some of the links are not available [to us], many are. In the middle of the page you will see the grade span to click on.
Serves Grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8

The Rogers School District in Northwest Arkansas is pretty spectacular. I see they have recently revamped their website. Fortunately, it is still available to all. 
Serves Grades K-5*
It may contain higher grade levels...just haven't found them.

I found this resource a few months back and still have notmade time to unlock its complete charms. As you click open the link listed above, you will see a menu on the left side: 1. Click on grade level. 2. Click on subject 3. Click on Browse. There are complete 5-week lesson plans on this website.  For example, after clicking on second grade writing you will be brought to this page. Click on #4 OPINION: Using the Power of Reviews. Tell me this isn't an amazing score! 
Serves Grades K-12

Screen shot of what you are looking for in order to get to lesson plan links

Well, there you have ' FAB Four Common Core links. I hope you have time to play with these links and would love it if you would respond with your favorite Common Core links in the comment section. Help me build a list. If you respond with a link and it makes the list, I will send you a FUN treat J

Finally, what’s in a Name?
Something I did not do, in my very first blog last August was to mention anything about the blog’s name. At the time, it seemed indulgent, but in retrospect, perhaps, it was just plain rude. Obviously, the Common Core part is a no brainer. The Saturday Morning Coffee part was not so much referring to my publishing on Saturday mornings (although I do), but really to capture the essence of what Saturday mornings mean to meand possibly to you, too. For me, Saturday mornings have always meant shedding the structure and confinement of week day work to become completely open to life’s possibilities. I wanted to capture that same freedom of thought for my blog.

        As always, I want to thank you for stopping by. I really appreciate your time. I am hoping your summer has been restful, rejuvenating, and FUN. Here’s wishing you a Happy Saturday.


  1. Thanks Cathe! I will have to look at these sites in more depth. I looked at the Rogers site after we talked this week but couldn't access a lot if the content. It looks like it's been blocked for their teachers. I'll check again through your link.

    I'm excited to start the new year and your blog is a good step towards planning. Yay!

    Happy Saturday!

  2. You are more than welcome.I know there is some stuff blocked, but I was thrilled to see what is still available. I can't wait for you to experience the last link :) Enjoy your weekend.

  3. Hi Cathe,
    Thanks for sharing! I notice on these cites the districts have curriculum and pacing calendars in place for their teachers. I think a big part of the push back against the Common Core has been the implementation of it. My district is a prime example. We have been "implementing" the Common Core for 4 years now. we started with Kindergarten one year then first the next and on from there. Basically the "implementation" has been giving us a copy of the standards and some professional collaboration time to figure out how to meet them. No curriculum and basically no support. They are just now forming committees to look into getting curriculum. I teach teach third grade and we will be taking the smarter balanced test this year. We have no technology in our rooms and our computer lab is 12 years old. Our district is rushing to find something we will be able to test kids with. So, they are finally going to upgrade our technology but not because we need it to teach the kids the skills the need, it's so they can take a standardized test. For me it means I will be giving my kids a high stakes test using a device I haven't even seen and my kids don't know how to use. Should be interesting!

  4. My heart goes out to you and your teachers. I hear a similar story from colleagues in California. Arkansas embraced Common Core right away and there are multiple safety nets in place. To be clear, all districts are not the same here in Arkansas. At the time, I just happened to be in a rural district that strongly supported the implementation by purchasing all titles suggested by GATES, by providing professional development and collaboration time (never enough :)

    Education drives me nuts because it seems like we get lost in the trees every time. The one thing that has given me hope is a thriving place like Teacher Pay Teacher where teachers are there to help teachers, by responding to what they need. It shouts out that teachers are taking charge. I hope you take advantage of the lens was for 2nd grade, but I know you will find a ton of great stuff for 3rd. Thanks so much for responding.

  5. Thanks for posting this! My school is moving towards CCSS (even though we are down in Mexico...however, we are an American school so I guess it makes sense) and there have been major misgivings and concerns. I personally went to the net to talk to teacher who teach using the CCSS and it´s primarily the way the testing is conducted, lack of resources and training that teachers have been against. I´ve been trying to explain this to others but it´s always tough when you make changes. I really appreciate this post and the resources. Thanks!

  6. Thanks for sharing, Tami. What you say seems to be how teachers feel. I will hope your school will provide the support for teachers and students to thrive. Please keep in touch to let me know how it is going. Cathe