Products That Make It Easy
|Randolph CSD’s superintendent, Kimberly Moritz, spends time with students as often as she can.
Teachers in 43 states and DC are
trying to figure out how to teach
the Common Core State Standards
in math and English language arts
(ELA). Luckily, there are several
technology products that can help
teachers prepare their students to graduate with
the skills they need to succeed—whatever path
they choose. Here are some examples.
ADAPTIVE TECHNOLOGY TO THE RESCUE
New York State passed new requirements
regarding teacher and administrator evaluations
while it was transitioning to the Common Core.
This would be a challenge for any district,
but Kimberly Moritz used the transition as an
impetus to drive change. “We had mediocre
results for at least a decade before Common
Core, so when the state required us to choose
a local assessment, we got started right away,”
says Moritz, superintendent of Randolph (NY) Central School District. The district began using
Curriculum Associates’ Ready suite and i-Ready
(www.curriculumassociates.com) because they
were so closely aligned with the Common Core.
Moritz says the company is like no company
she’s ever known. “The Ready products let
us intensively help students at all levels, and
the Common Core lets us teach to everyone’s
With i-Ready, students take adaptive tests
four times a year in math and ELA to check their
progress. Based on their scores, they are given
personalized diagnostic instruction that they
complete online. There are also print materials
for teachers to use.
“Our assessments show that our students are
improving, but when a veteran teacher tells me
that students are learning more now, that’s worth
everything,” Moritz says. “I spent time with high
school students every day and I knew, a couple of
years ago, the coursework wasn’t challenging for
all of our students. I wanted our teachers to be
able to push and challenge all learners, not just
our struggling learners. Common Core is helping
us to do that.”
1:1 PAVES THE WAY FOR COMMON CORE
|Leyden students enjoy using their Chromebooks for everything
Leyden (IL) High School District 212 is
in in the third year of its 1:1 program with Dell
Chromebooks. The district learned about
technology integration and is now adopting
Common Core State Standards simultaneously.
“Web tools are extraordinarily useful for
learning the language arts standards of
speaking, listening, and researching,” says Dr.
Mikkel Storaasli, assistant superintendent
for curriculum and instruction. “For research
alone, putting a Web-enabled device in each
student’s hands gives him or her the opportunity
to do any kind of research at any time.” Leyden
students use EasyBib (www.easybib.com),
Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com),
and a variety of online databases for research.
They also use Google Apps for all sorts of writing
assignments. Having Chromebooks available has
increased the amount of writing for students as
well as collaboration at all levels, says Storaasli. “They are no longer creating something on a
piece of paper and tossing it aside. With Google
Apps, pieces are constantly revised.”
Access to different levels of texts is a huge
part of language arts, and—thanks to the
Chromebooks—students are no longer limited to
a single textbook. Teachers can find appropriate
material for every level, including English language learners. The computers also allow
teachers to use assessment tools like Socrative
(www.socrative.com) or Kahoot (https://getkahoot.com) to get immediate feedback.
Web tools for math are advancing quickly as
well, says Storaasli. Some classes use GeoGebra
(www.geogebra.org), a hands-on program
aligned to Common Core that allows students to
manipulate objects to measure angles and better
understand the relationships between objects.
The Desmos Graphing Calculator (www.desmos.com/calculator) lets students learn
about graphing functions, plot tables of data,
and explore transformations. “Common Core is
a huge shift for math teachers,” says Storaasli.
“It’s complicated to find or create problems
that match what the Common Core requires,
so having Internet access makes it easier for
teachers to network and find the resources our
READING IS ESSENTIAL IN COMMON CORE
|Whether they’re in a classroom or the lab, Loridana Lopez’s 4th-grade students are becoming stronger readers, thanks to a variety of tech tools.
Buena Vista Arts-integrated Magnet in
Montclair (CA), is a unique school in which the
teachers have the opportunity to integrate the
arts with their instruction. “Our goal is to get all
of the students to read at grade level and beyond
so that they can access entry to college one day,”
says Loridana Lopez, a 4th-grade language
arts and social studies teacher. In addition to integrating the arts for reading comprehension,
Lopez uses technology to assist with the
students’ achievement in the Common Core
Lopez ensures that all students have access
during the school day to get on a computer to
read, research, or use one of the many resources
available to learners. One of the primary
programs she uses is Scholastic Reading Counts
(http://teacher.scholastic.com/), a Lexile-based
independent reading program that combines reading practices and assessment. “We use it as
an incentive program for students to accumulate
points and give them lots of recognition. They set
their own goals and chart their growth.”
Two other programs Lopez relies on
are EduTyping (www.edutyping.com)
for keyboarding practice and Triumph
Learning Common Core Support Coach
(www.triumphlearning.com) for reading
comprehension and foundational math skills.
Lopez’s students use Common Core Support
Coach two to three times a week. She loves that
she can use it to teach entire units or assign a
lesson for a student to do during computer time
or at home if they have Internet access. She also
loves that the software lets her run reports and
see where each student is at any given time. “It’s
a fantastic resource,” she says.
A 21ST-CENTURY EDUCATION PLAN
Robert C. Sidford joined the Washoe County
(NV) School District two and a half years ago,
just as Common Core was coming into play.
Today, Nevada has rebranded Common Core
as the Nevada Academic Content Standards
(NVACS), which combines Common Core math
and English language arts, next-generation
science, and Nevada’s own standards into
one package. As the 21st-century learning
coordinator for the district, Sidford is in charge of determining how technology fits into the
curriculum. “Instead of changing teaching, we’re
trying to change learning,” he says. “For students
to succeed at the Common Core assessments
and show 21st-century competencies in
collaboration, knowledge construction, and
research, they need to practice those skills.
That’s where the technology fits in.” He believes
we’ve struggled to find an organic place for
technology in education because we’ve focused
on teaching instead of on learning. That’s why
Washoe County is trying to help its teachers
create student-centered learning environments
in which students learn through technology—not about technology. One way students can do this
is to select how they demonstrate understanding.
They can write a paper, make a video, work in a
team, or work independently. And the district is
providing professional learning so teachers can
understand how to make this happen.
So far, the district has created 21st Century
Elevator Guides (www.wcsd21.com) focusing
on real-world problem-solving and innovation,
collaboration, 21st-century competencies,
and other topics so that all 94 schools share a
common approach to creating new classrooms.
There’s a 21st-century learning leaders network
of certified staff at every school to answer questions about technology and Common Core.
Their goal is to be a resource for teachers and to
help them integrate technology more effectively.
Although the district is not 1:1, largely due to
the recession, they are laying the groundwork by
preparing to go wireless over the next two years.
Teachers who have already begun experimenting
with technology are sharing ideas and helping
other teachers get on board. Sidford is happy to
witness this instructional shift and assist where
he can. He says, “I believe we are ready to go to
the next level and start to figure out how to have
a district approach to integrating technology
where it makes sense.”
TOOLS THEY USE
RANDOLPH (NY) CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
► Adobe Production Premium
► Autodesk Inventor
► Castle Learning
► Curriculum Associates’
i-Ready Diagnostic and
Instruction and Ready
► Microsoft Office 2013
► Scholastic Read 180
TOOLS THEY USE
LEYDEN (IL) HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT 212
► Dell Chromebooks
► Google Apps for Education
► Pearson OpenClass LMS
► Teacher Dashboard from
TOOLS THEY USE
BUENA VISTA ARTS-INTEGRATED MAGNET (MONTCLAIR, CA)
► AverVision Document
► HP/Dell Laptops
► IXL Math
► Microsoft Office
► Scholastic Reading Counts
► Scholastic SRI/SMI online
► Triumph Online Learning
TOOLS THEY USE
WASHOE COUNTY (NV) SCHOOL DISTRICT
► Cisco Infrastructure
► Dell desktops and laptops
►HP desktops and laptops
►Microsoft Office Suite,
Productivity, and Office 365
► Promethean ActivBoards
Looking for Common Core resources? Here are two recommendations:
■ Learning First Alliance (www.learningfirst.org/commoncore) has a rich collection
of educator-focused Common Core resources, including podcasts, success
stories, toolkits, and materials from its member organizations, including AA SA
■ LearnZillion (https://learnzillion.com/free_resources) offers free, Common Corealigned
lessons from math and English language arts teachers in grades 2-12.
SURVEY FINDS SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF SCHOOLS ARE COMMON CORE READY
MDR’s new State of the K-12 Market 2014 report, conducted by the EdNET research team, defined trends that will have an impact on
American schools in the coming year. Major findings in this year’s report include:
■ Common Core Standards Continue to Drive the Instructional Materials Market: Despite the swirling controversy surrounding
CC SS, 43 states remain committed to implementation, and states that have not adopted or that have recently rejected the CC SS
are still creating and implementing locally developed college- and career-ready standards.
■ Strong Technology Budgets: Nearly 90% of districts expect their 2014-2015 technology budgets for hardware, software,
teacher training, and technical support to stay the same or increase.
■ Districts Move Forward on One-to-One Computing: Nearly half (44%) of all U.S. districts report that 1:1 computing is substantially
implemented in high schools, 36% in middle schools, and 20% in elementary schools. Chromebooks have come on strong
with half of all districts citing implementation of these newer devices.
■ U .S. Schools—No Strangers to Online Assessments: Fully a third of districts already administer the majority of student assessments
in core content areas online, with an additional 25% expecting to reach that measure this year.
■ Experimentation Abounds for Flipped, Blended, and Personalized Models: 63% of districts have implemented flipped learning
models in at least some classrooms, and 60% use a flexible blended model where students take all or a majority of courses
online and teachers or paraprofessionals provide face-to-face support as needed.
■ Instructional Materials Making a Comeback: One out of four districts expects their 2014-2015 instructional budget to increase,
up from 16% the prior year. Purchases of math instruction will be especially strong, with 43% of districts planning to purchase
middle school products, 36% elementary, and 33% high school. ELA purchase expectations are almost as high for all grade levels.
To learn more, visit EdNET Insight (www.ednetinsight.com).