Who am I?

Sarah Allred is the Instructional Lead Teacher at Braxton Craven School, an all 6th grade middle school. She has 15 years of teaching experience at the middle school level. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education earned at the University of NC Greensboro, National Board Certification in Early Adolescent English Language Arts, and a Master of Arts in Education in Instructional Technology earned at East Carolina University. She has taught language arts, social studies, science, and technology. She serves her school in many leadership roles. Her passion is searching for new ways to use technology to improve student learning. Additional roles she fills are mother of two amazing kids, and wife of a police officer. She enjoys reading, gardening, and digital photography.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Visions of Common Core and Essential Standards

Now that we are really getting into the meat of the school year, I have been encouraging teachers to reflect on how they are implementing Common Core and Essential Standards in their classroom.  It appears that this has our faculty feeling overwhelmed and insecure, and understandably so.  Those feelings are a good sign that we are attempting to embrace the changes even though it is uncomfortable.

I don't want our faculty to feel disheartened and give up from being so overwhelmed. I absolutely believe we are on the right track, and have begun taking the small steps that will eventually get us where we need and want to be.  This morning I spent some time visiting classrooms looking for evidence of these small steps with CCES to prove that we are doing it, and I want to share some of what I saw.

  • One class had created character portraits for a book they read, and had to include on the portrait a quote from the text with the page number cited which gives evidence for the characteristics they included in their drawing. (adding depth and text based answers)
  • In two classrooms, students were working on a tic-tac-toe choice board to research information about Ancient Egypt. (differentiation and writing from sources)
  • In another class, students were designing human eyes based on radial design, warm and cool color schemes, and accurate eye structure. (working from sources and integrating science)
  • In another class, students were doing research on a particular animal and creating a brochure product using Microsoft Office. (writing from sources and integrating science)
  • Another class was practicing math skills with the activities differentiated to meet the level each individual student is working at. (differentiation and taking ownership of learning)
  • A final class I visited was discussing how to read word problems and translate them into numerical expressions. Students were going to discuss this in collaborative groups. (21st Century Skills and Mathematical Practices 1 & 3) 
These are some great example of how we are rising to meet the expectations of Common Core and Essential Standards!  We can do it; in fact we are doing it!  Remember CCES is not about a one size fits all program or doing a song and dance.  It is about facilitating learning for students and pushing them to greater depths of understanding. 

So,  as a great book which I read often says: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Gal 6:9 NIV

Monday, September 17, 2012

Teacher Pay Teachers Pays Me $500!

Just 6 months ago I began an experiment to see how Teacher Pay Teachers might work for me.  (see April 6 post).  During my first quarter of participation, my products earned me a bit over $100 -- not too bad for selling teaching materials I had created for my own classroom.  I have continued now through my second quarter, and at this point have 21 resources available in my "store.". This quarter isn't quite over yet,and I have earned over $500!  Wow, this is much more successful than I ever expected! I think I will keep it up!

Right now I have 14 followers for my store and I would love to have more... So if you have an account on Teachers Pay Teachers, follow me! When I reach 50 followers, I will post a new free teaching resource.  If you don't have a Teachers Pay Teachers account create one, follow me, and then try posting some of your own teacher materials for sale! Who couldn't use a few more bucks in their wallet?

One last thing, if you are one of my BCS or RCS colleagues, email me about my special 100% off colleague discount!

Click here to create your own account.   https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Signup/referral:sallred 

Click here to see my store.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Overwhelmed by Curriculum Changes?

It is a daunting task to figure out how to completely implement Common Core and North Carolina Essential Standards curriculum all at once. If you are struggling with this, I would suggest by breaking it down and starting small.  Below is how I would approach it.

1- When planning lessons, take the time to write a “full out” lesson plan like you used to have to do in college until you get the hang of the changes.  Make sure to include an EQ or I Can statement for every lesson, and record which new standard(s) it addresses.
2- For math teachers, focus on using the 8 Mathematical Practices. (I would even suggest picking one a week to focus on until you are comfortable with them so you don’t feel so overwhelmed.)
·         Standard 6: Attend to precision

3- For LA teachers, focus on the 3 Literacy Shifts. (I would also suggest picking one a week to focus on until you are comfortable with them so you don’t feel so overwhelmed.)
·         Build knowledge through content-rich nonfiction and informational text.
·         Reading and writing grounded in evidence from the text.
·         Regular practice with complex text and its academic vocabulary.

4- For all teachers, make sure you add literacy elements as often as you can (focusing on the 3 shifts also).

If you can make a dedicated effort to do these things during this school year, I think you will be well on your way in terms of implementing CC/ES.  It will take some time to learn the curriculum standards and the new approach, and that is expected. The only way you can fail would be to keep teaching the way you always have and using the same lessons you did in years before.  I don’t mean that you have to throw everything out and completely start from scratch, but you should be taking some time with your old lessons and materials and adjusting them to meet the new requirements.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

They Have Arrived!

After spending countless hours during the 2011-2012 school year in professional development, study, and planning for the Common Core and Essential Standards, they are finally here! We've gone through all the build up for this giant shift in education .... Now what? When you walk through the doors of your school and into your classroom what are you doing differently? Could a visitor look in your window and see the changes CC and ES have inspired? What would a visitor see?

I wonder how this transition has manifested itself in our classrooms? Is it totally different, like being in another world? Are there small changes that you will gradually add to? Or are things going on as they always have?

Food for thought.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Data Boot Camp

Tomorrow morning I embark on another adventure on my journey as a Lead Teacher. I'm going to boot camp. . . Data Boot Camp.  Lucky for me, running is not on the agenda for this NCCAT training. Instead I will be learning everything I can about data in instruction - data collecting, analyzing, and planning from it.  The adventure will start even before the training begins.  I'm leaving bright and early to drive to the NC coast where I will catch a ferry for a 2 1/2 ride to Ocracoke (no, it won't be a three hour tour). It's been a long time since I last visited the Outer Banks - I hope I can sneak in some time to see some sights and walk along the shore.  For now, I need to finish packing so the adventure can begin.

Ocracoke Island Welcome Site