GATE Conference, Pasadena 2013

Common Core: Powering nothing in particular at a school near you.

Common Core: Powering nothing in particular at a school near you.

The day of this posting, which is for many teachers, in fact, most teachers…the first day of Winter Break…will find me at the GATE conference in Pasadena. Much of my team will be there, although the number of no-show teachers has skyrocketed as morale plummets. The goal is to have a day where expert lecturers from various parts of the educational community get together to discuss methods to support our Gifted and Talented students. That’s what GATE stands for.

As Common Core is discussed more and more in educational meetings, one can expect it to dominate many, if not all of the various presentations. You at home, True Believer, are asking, “What the @#$% is Common Core?” Most teachers are actually asking the same question.

The short form is this: The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an education initiative in the United States that details what K-12 students should know in English and math at the end of each grade. it has heavy federal support, with funding and No Child Left Behind waivers attached. More detailed information can be found here.

California has adopted these educational standards, and it is a big deal. New standardized tests are needed, and more educational technology. The iPad initiative is a part of that effort. The big problem though is that as much as people in education, such as teachers and administrators use the words Common Core in meetings…few if any educators are actually well versed in what they are, what they mean, or how they really impact instruction.

My co-teacher and I have been using the Core Standards as our guideline in altering our courses of study for the past several months. It has caused us to change the methods that we use to teach, the structure of materials, and the educational activities we do. The assessments are even different, even without computer driven testing.

The sad truth is though…most teachers are resistant to changing for the Common Core implementation, even though they know it is coming. Endless debate happens in meetings about it, and argument about it, without any teachers attempting to change their lessons or activities from what they have done in prior years. It is not unlike putting Diesel fuel in a Regular Gasoline engine. Not a good idea at all, and in all probability, you will have unexpected problems.

That’s what the art is about. Common Core is huge…and really, I have only looked at the English standards. Like our hero, I wouldn’t be able to identify the whole thing. Agent of GATE can, because it’s his conference. It has also been a while since we’ve seen him.

I wanted the Common Core to look like the Enterprise’s Warp Core. As I laid out the image, I decided it should be bigger, more “bottomless pit” style, and also kind of disorganized in construction. That, as usual, is heavy handed metaphor. Also, I really wanted to diverge from the usual page layout, hence the more parallelogram based layout, and the idea of the inset panel. Ultimately, I like the look.

The good news is that the conference is usually pretty enjoyable, and I attend a few excellent, thought provoking lectures. We shall see.

Next Issue: Winter Break Begins!

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