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Slide Notes

Today, we are honored to share our journey as we have implemented the Common Core Literacy Standards for our district and middle school. I am Pauline Leavitt, the principal at OPMS and I will be presenting today with Theresa Grace our Senior Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Mrs. Cobian (Assistant Principal), Mrs. Ingrid Forbes and Jamie King (ELA), Brenna Gagnon (Science), Jerry Patenaude (P.E), Sandi McCreary (previous math teacher/ now library & ELA teacher). So, without further ado-- we will begin by hearing from Mrs. Grace regarding how our district began to create a common language regarding the CCSS in the area of literacy.


Published on Nov 19, 2015

CCSS plan for our district and school


Literacy for ALl

The common core standards & RUSD 
Today, we are honored to share our journey as we have implemented the Common Core Literacy Standards for our district and middle school. I am Pauline Leavitt, the principal at OPMS and I will be presenting today with Theresa Grace our Senior Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Mrs. Cobian (Assistant Principal), Mrs. Ingrid Forbes and Jamie King (ELA), Brenna Gagnon (Science), Jerry Patenaude (P.E), Sandi McCreary (previous math teacher/ now library & ELA teacher). So, without further ado-- we will begin by hearing from Mrs. Grace regarding how our district began to create a common language regarding the CCSS in the area of literacy.

The plan

the signal for return is.......
Listening Signal:
Good morning, throughout this session, you will have opportunities to participate in discussions with your tablemates. So that we can quickly get your attention when it is time for us to continue with our presentation, we will use a listening signal.
When one of us calls out the first part of the listening signal, all of you will repeat the end of the phrase back to us. Once the listening signal has been used, that means we are ready to continue with our presentation.
The listening signal we will use is the focus of this session which is “literacy for all”. When we call out “literacy” you will call back “for all”
Let’s practice. Please turn to an elbow partner and tell him/her the title of an interesting book or text you recently read.
“Literacy” ….”for all”. Thank you.

The rollout plan

creating a district vision....
Introduction regarding how the district create the CCSS rollout committee. The participants, the procedures and the outcome.

Refer to CCSS rollout plan on the District Website.

Include QR code and web address

Creating a common language

district book study 
As our district began this journey of rollout the common core, we used the book, Pathways to the Common Core to create a common language district-wide.

Attended staff collaborations to take a pulse check of next steps and sent google surveys to decide on training and next steps.

Through the collection of information from the teachers district-wide, we were able to provide a variety of trainings over the summer to help teachers continue their journey regarding learning aspects of the CCSS and technology needs.


Addressing the current state 
Olive Peirce Middle School is a special school. For the past 20 years, we have worked to become a fully functioning PLC. I am sure that phrase sounds familiar to most in this room but I can attest that working and learning in a professional learning community has provided the structure necessary to help our middle school progress in the work of the CCSS in a progressive and successful manner.
Photo by smoorenburg

OPMS: Focus on and a COMMITMENT to the learning of each student

  • A Culture of Learning for Students & Adults
  • Common Prep & Block Scheduling
  • Common Lessons & Assessments
  • Data Driven Decisions
  • Relationships & Honoring Success of Students & Staff 
So, what does it mean when we say we are a fully functioning PLC?

We have developed a culture focused and somewhat obsessed with student learning. We share our lesson plans weekly with one another, we share our data openly to help provide interventions, and we work and plan together during our common prep times.

This structure did not happen over night. We have studied the work of Richard Defour, attended conferences, and read a lot of research while on this journey.

We are data driven teams and we know that relationships with students and each other matter.


Today, I wanted to share a video that I found online while studying about the Common Core Standards. What I liked about this video was that it was created by a group of teachers that were implementing the CCSS in the area of literacy with an emphasis on close reading. These teachers are from the second biggest school district in Nevada (Washoe county) and they have document their journey as they implemented the CCSS. They have created blogs, videos, lessons, and their website is a good resource of information. So, let's take a moment to listen to these teachers candid responses about teaching literacy with the new standards and then we will have some time to talk with our table partners about what they said.

I believe what everyone believes-- that certain learners are less capable of engaging in certain content.

It is a civil rights issue to withhold instruction from students because we feel they can't do it!

Read these quotes outloud ....

Deskilling patterns of instruction....

Smoothing the road for them so they don't have to navigate through the bumps...

Read these quotes outloud...

Table Talk

What is the belief about Instruction & learning on your campus?


Maybe---we aren't doing everything yet......
Building a culture where we believe that our students can do hard things and learn from the struggle ---is a bit of change!

When we are use to modeling, scaffolding and I dare say... smoothing the road so our students don't have to navigate through the bumps .... listening to these teachers from Nevada made me reflect that we not only have to have a culture of learning for our students but for ourselves-- that we have to take a step back and not make those mistakes out of compassion......

The growth mindset was in full action and so this is where our journey took off.....

Photo by coffeego

Achieve the Core

Lessons used to create a common language around the CCSS
As the instructional leader on my campus, it was a bit daunting to think about our next steps as a school on how to roll out the work of the CCSS on our campus.

Utilizing the Achieve the Core Website was a great resource but it can be a bit overwhelming because of the amount of information that is on this site.
Photo by kevin dooley

Untitled Slide

So, the way that I used this website was in small chunks. When we began ...what I call the knowledge base part of this journey-- I used the beginning professional development lessons to help me know how to introduce the CCSS, introduce and explain the 3 shifts in literacy, and also reviewed their power points to make sure I was on the right track.

Untitled Slide

Once we built our knowledge base about the CCSS, like what are the CCSS all about, what are the shifts for literacy, and what are other teachers thinking about this process-- then I used the site for videos regarding topics that were were studying or for examples of how the teachers on this site used their rubrics for assessing complex text.

Utilizing this site for a support rather than a total resource made this site manageable for me and my team.

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Discuss how annotation began on our campus as a focus. Share daughter's example and students saying that that were reading the text but not getting it.

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Story about daughter and her college experience....

Our first steps towards the CCSS journey.....

As an entire school we decided to focus on annotation. Everyone got on board because it made sense that students should be focusing on their thinking and taking notes while they were reading.


Read with a pencil : a focus on annotation 
Created this video to highlight our work....

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But... than we started really diving into the work of literacy and realized that we were a little off our mark......

All the research had a common theme.....

Annotation is a strategy used to attack complex text and it is not the standard!!!

The change began...
Photo by somegeekintn

Untitled Slide

Through our work with Heather Anderson, we were able to refine our focus on what we needed to do as an entire school regarding literacy.

We needed to make the reading of complex text our focus and use close reading and text dependent questions the avenue for helping students to learn how to do this independently.

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We did not abandon the strategy of annotation. We just realized that the emphasis on annotation was getting us a bit off task from the bigger picture --which was to help our students comprehend complex text independently and help them acquire the skills to make that a reality.

Annotation is a great formative assessment. Annotation should be used to inform instruction and help students progress in their reading skills.

Through our studying of research, utilizing the Achieve the Core site, and working along side Heather Anderson---Our thinking developed into a few common beliefs and practices about close reading-- which we have shared with you at your tables.

Review the common practices of close reading that are noted on the papers at their tables.
Photo by Ewan McIntosh

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We made a big shift on making it a goal to introduce complex text to our students in every content. This began a school-wide endeavor and focus.

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As my teammates have already stated, annotation has been a powerful tool that our students use to analyze non fiction text. Since I teach U.S. History, my students are often asked to understand complex texts such as the Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights and annotation has greatly improved their comprehension and insights. After working closely with my colleagues in other subject areas, we realized that we can share the job of annotating.

For example, last year my English colleagues annotated the poem O’Captain My Captain by Walt Whitman. Since this poem symbolically references the death of Abraham Lincoln, this year I will also read and annotate this text with my students. This will help students read the text multiple times and with different purpose.

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Discuss how the history team taught complex text and utilized our school-wide goals.

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Focusing on literacy in our science classes was a change. We have been guilty of assigning reading but not helping students to understand how to read and comprehend the text.

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What I noticed when we started having our students read complex science text and annotating the text, I could see their thinking.

We needed to set a purpose for their reading. I could look at their notes and immediately see where their comprehension was breaking down and than use that information to inform my instruction.

A common focus

close reading and argumentative writing-- schoolwide
As a school, we decided we needed to set some very specific goals. I attended a CLMS conference last summer and Michelle Sanchez shared this slide with me and it just clicked. This has middle school and high school written all over it. The standards for all content areas meet in these common places. It was perfect. I fell in love with this Venn diagram. It was just what we needed to create our school-wide professional development plan and goals.

This information is from Stanford Graduate School of Education and was created by Dr. Tina Cheuk. She knew that the standards could work together and the language of learning had a lot in common.

appendix A

Page 24 
Then we were introduced to the literacy frameworks and specifically Appendix A, page 24 at our ERWC training.

This information just helped us to know we were planning and working in the right direction.

Read highlighted sections outloud.

set Professional development goals that are realistic and ACHIEVABLE

keep it simple
We were then able to create a plan to implement the literacy standards school-wide and keep the thinking and learning simple for everyone to address.
Photo by @Doug88888

The OPMS CCSS plan for literacy

  • Focus on Anchor Standards 1 & 10 (Rigorous Reading)
  • Focus on the 3 Shifts in Literacy (Achieve the Core)
  • Fully implement the CCSS in all ELA classes
  • Reading & Writing Project
Read the goals.

Standards 1 & 10: keeping it all about teaching students how to read complex text indepently

3 shifts: Focus on expository text in reading, speaking, and writing

ELA: Tons of time to plan and articulate......

School-wide focus: Reading and Writing Project. It takes an entire village to attack this goal and we are going to do it together!!!
Photo by Leo Reynolds

Table talk

share Your journey regarding rolling out the CCSS in literacy.....

reading & writing project

How to create a school-wide focus on literacy
Share Project:

Every teacher, once week of the month during our ACE/ Homeroom time is engaged in a school-wide reading and writing assignment.

We have created a video to explain our work....
Photo by Alex Ristea


reading & Writing Project 

A common focus

Standards that address all content areas
This project allows us to work together on our common goals, plan together, assess the student work together and every month everyone is involved in a close reading and argumentative writing assignment together.


Electives & P.E 
Photo by doviende

table talk

How does your team work together to address common goals? 

Literacy for all

it is not just a goal it is a reality 
We hope that you enjoyed hearing about our journey and we thank-you, for your time today.