10/2/12 Message

 Dr. Lillie Cox

Message from Dr. Cox,       


The 2012-2013 school year is bringing many exciting changes in curriculum and instruction to classrooms in our school district and across our state and nation.  North Carolina is one of 45 states to adopt new Common Core State Standards for K-12 Mathematics and English Language Arts, along with North Carolina’s Essential Standards for Science, Social Studies, and other subject areas.  Throughout the past year, our Alamance-Burlington teachers, school administrators, and central office professionals, along with our peers across North Carolina, have been preparing for the implementation of these stronger, clearer, and more consistent goals for the curriculum taught in every classroom and at every grade level.  It is a large undertaking, but we are eager to share information about the notable changes we are implementing for our students.

The Common Core State Standards initiative is coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. New goals for classroom learning are built upon the strengths of current state standards for student achievement to help define what our students need to know and be able to do in order to be ready for college, career, and life in a global economy. 

New standards for English Language Arts are focused on the 5 communication skills of reading, writing, speaking, listening and language. Students will be reading from a broad and more varied range of increasingly complex text over time.   In addition, our students will be expected to write in a variety of modes, with emphasis placed on using evidence from texts they read to inform their argumentative, informational, and narrative writing.  Because the Common Core State Standards have Literacy Standards for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects, students will be reading and writing across all subject areas.

New objectives for Mathematics stress not only “how-to” skills but also conceptual understanding to ensure students are learning and absorbing the critical information they need to succeed at higher levels.  Two important shifts in the standards lie in the approach to the ways in which students learn the standards – the Mathematical Practices and the content of the standards themselves.  Mathematical Practices focus on students’ processing and analytical skills, in order to develop “habits of mind”, or efficient and effective critical thinking skills.  The new, more rigorous standards are designed to build upon prior learning and experiences, developing a strong foundation in number sense in grades K-5.  This will help students develop a deeper understanding of geometry, algebra, probability, and statistics as they move through high school, and be able to apply mathematics to novel situations. 

The Essential Standards for Social Studies are designed to prepare students to be productive, informed citizens in a 21st century global society.  These standards are based around five themes: history; geography and environmental literacy; economics and financial literacy; civics and governance; and culture. The biggest shift in the standards for Social Studies is that in place of learning “stand alone” historical facts and events, students will study content as it relates to the five themes for a deeper understanding of the past, how it is relevant to the present, and what past history may mean for the future.

Scientific inquiry is the foundation for the new Essential Standards for Science. Students will engage in posing questions, investigating, creating new knowledge through experimentation and collaboration, and reflecting upon their learning.  Core concepts in the areas of physical science, earth science, and life science will anchor instruction in this area.

With these new standards in place, there will begin to be less emphasis on multiple choice tests or assessments to gauge students’ understanding of new concepts and lessons. Across our district, we are working to provide increased opportunities for students to apply their knowledge in new ways. Increasingly, students will be provided with more opportunities to showcase their knowledge in performance tasks where they will apply their understanding to real world situations, solve problems and demonstrate a deeper grasp of the course content. Students will see a gradual transition from primarily multiple choice assessments or tests to a balance of multiple choice and performance tasks over time.

We are excited to introduce our community to the implementation of these advanced classroom standards to help prepare all students for college, career, and life in our globally-competitive world.  We invite you to learn more about these 21st century learning standards:

For more detailed grade level specific information about the Common Core State Standards, please check the following excellent resources: 

Parents Guide to Student Success (PTA): http://www.pta.org/4446.htm

Common Core State Standards Initiative: http://www.corestandards.org/ 

For more detailed information about other North Carolina standards, assessments, and timelines, please visit the following sites: 

Accountability and Reform Effort:  http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/acre/

DPI:  Parents, Family, and Community:  http://www.ncpublicschools.org/parents/

A few samples:

Sample Student Performance Task for Common Core English/Language Arts (Grade 7)

Student Directions:

Part 1 (35 minutes)

Your assignment:

You will read a short story and article, watch a video, review research statistics, then write an argumentative essay about your opinion on virtual schools.

Steps you will be following: 

In order to plan and compose your essay, you will do all of the following:

1. Read a short story and article, watch a video, and review research statistics.
2. Answer three questions about the sources.
3. Plan and write your essay.
Directions for beginning:
You will now read the sources and watch a video. Take notes because you may want to refer back to your notes while writing your essay. You can refer back to any of the sources as often as you like.
(short story)
(article 1)
(research statistics)
Use your remaining time to answer the questions below. Your answers to these questions will be scored. Also, they will help you think about the sources you’ve read and viewed, which should help you write your essay. You may click on the appropriate buttons to refer back to the sources when you think it would be helpful. You may also refer to your notes.
Answer the questions in the spaces provided below them.
1. Analyze the different opinions expressed in  “The Fun They Had” and the “Virtual High School Interview” video. Use details from the story and the video to support your answer.
2. What do the statistics from “Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning” suggest about the current trends of virtual schools in the U.S.? Use details from the charts to support your answer.
3. Explain how the information presented in the “Virtual High School Interview” video and the article, “Virtual Schools Not for Everyone,” differs from the information in the research statistics? Support your answers with details from the video and the articles.
Part 2 (85 minutes)
You will now have 85 minutes to review your notes and sources, plan, draft, and revise your essay. You may also refer to the answers you wrote to the questions in part 1, but you cannot change those answers.  Now read your assignment and the information about how your essay will be scored, then begin your work.
Your Assignment
Your parents are considering having you attend a virtual high school. Write an argumentative essay explaining why you agree or disagree with this idea. Support your claim with evidence from what you have read and viewed.

The Paint Problem

Avery’s father donated 6 gallons of paint to her school. The teachers have decided to paint tabletops with the paint. It will take 1/5 of a gallon of paint to cover a small-sized table. It will take 1/4 of a gallon of paint to cover a medium-sized table, and 1/3 of a gallon of paint for a large-sized table.

• How many small-sized tables can the teachers paint if they use all of the paint? Show a model and write an equation that relates to your model.

• How many medium-sized tables can the teachers paint if they use all of the paint? Show a model and write an equation that relates to your model. 

• How many large-sized tables can the teachers paint if they use all of the paint?

• Based on your observations, write an algorithm that makes sense for dividing any whole number by any unit fraction.

Avery found some blue tables that needed painting in the cafeteria. Her father agreed to donate 6 more gallons of paint. It will take 2/3 of a gallon to repaint each of the blue tables.

• If the teachers use all of the paint, how many blue tables can they paint? Use a model and write an equation that relates to the model.

Adapted from It’s All Connected, by Carmen Whitman 6NS1 – Apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication and division to divide fractions by fractions TAP Math – Summer 2012 – Grade 6

Games for Sale

Felipe and Alex want to buy three video games. The prices of the games are $19.99, $54.99, and $35.99. Best Product Warehouse is offering a discount of 20% if the game costs $30.00 or less and a 30% discount if the game costs more than $30.00. The store will also accept a bonus coupon from its website for an additional ¼ off the already reduced price. Video Mart is offering a 50% discount on all games.

 a. Draw a diagram to illustrate how much each of the three games will cost at each store and be ready to explain which store offers the best deal.

 b. At Best Product Warehouse, does it make a difference if you apply the website discount first?

 c. Justify your solution by explaining the strategies you used to solve the task.

7th Grade Common Core Standards

7.RP.3 Use proportional relationships to solve multistep ratio and percent problems.

7.NS. Apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication and division and of fractions to multiply and divide rational numbers.