With more states ramping up their preparations on Common Core State Standards, educators are looking for ways to get a handle on the new standards. The social network Pinterest is becoming a surprisingly valuable tool as they share Common Core resources with one another.
In North Dakota, educators received a basic introduction to the Common Core this spring. In the fall, a consortium of local schools plans to hold in-service training for grade-level teams so they can work on the Common Core.
The Common Core has been available for several years now, so more online resources — such as Learning A-Z and One More Story — now line up with the standards, said Paula Rogers, a Title I reading and math specialist in Langdon Area Public Schools in North Dakota. On Pinterest, Rogers follows teachers and reading specialists outside of her small town and shares the Common Core resources she finds.
"We can work with teachers from everywhere, and we're working on the same apples-to-apples curriculum," Rogers said. "So I think our curriculum is just going to get better."
When someone pins a Common Core strategy on a Pinterest board, Rogers clicks on the pin to follow it back to the original resource, which is usually found on a blog or website. She said she finds some of her best resources by poking around on those online sources.
The transition from traditional state standards to the Common Core isn't a huge one, Rogers said. The major difference is that the Common Core is more detailed.
And the Common Core standards go deeper in terms of instruction, said LeeAnn Moore, literacy coach at Morley Stanwood Middle School in Michigan. Most of the district's teachers started moving to the Common Core Standards last year and are about halfway to fully implementing them.
"They're really finding that there's not a lot that has changed except for the fact that I think the Common Core is just going to help take instruction to a deeper level, and that can be difficult for teachers who are used to rote memorization learning," Moore said.
In teacher team meetings, Moore starts discussions about how to motivate students as they push them to learn in more detail. Not many people in her district use Pinterest, though.
|Other Common Core Resources|
|While Pinterest has been around for a few years, a new tool for educators and students entered the ring on May 24 called Learnist, created by the ed tech company Grockit. A Pinterest-esque site made for educators, Learnist already has an educator on it who's created a Common Core Standard board on decimals.
Aside from Pinterest and Learnist, the educators interviewed for this story found that the Common Core Standards app from MasteryConnect does a great job of breaking the standards down. And they also follow blogs of educators who frequently talk about the Common Core.
"I usually find myself out in the frontier lands of technology in my district, so I would like to see more teachers sign up with it and then connect with other people who have boards, like my Common Core board," Moore said. "At this point it's just a repository for me to get ideas that I can take out and share with my staff."
For example, she found PDFs from the Oregon Education Department that divide the Common Core State Standards into manageable pieces. The reading standards fit on one page. So do the writing standards. And language arts stretches to three pages. After pinning these resources, she downloaded and printed them for her staff.
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Moore and reading specialist Sheryl Fragomeni have a thick folder filled with the full standards, but it's much less intimidating to break them up. Fragomeni, who works in Michigan's Troy School District at Leonard Elementary School and is in charge of staff development, has found pins on Pinterest for Common Core first-grade reading comprehension. The format is much more manageable.
"When you see the Common Core together, the magnitude of it is a little bit frightening," Fragomeni said. "But once you print it out and you see how the Common Core works in the classifications, then it's easier to use."
The reading comprehension resource she pinned came from Teachers Pay Teachers, a website where teachers create tools and charge small amounts for them. For $3, Fragomeni bought a poster that had the Common Core first-grade reading comprehension standards written in everyday language for children. That will help children understand what they're supposed to learn without having to filter through teaching jargon.
Because teachers are busy, it's often easier for them when Fragomeni pins a resource and either sends them a link to read or prints it out and puts it in their teacher mailboxes. She also uses strategies she finds on Pinterest in the in-service trainings for teachers that she leads.
With Fragomeni as the ringleader, the district's other 12 reading specialists and several teachers jumped at the chance to utilize Pinterest. They worked together on units and shared ideas.
But this year, Troy School District banned Pinterest after someone found out that nudity showed up on the site. Fragomeni talked to her principal and went up the leadership chain. The teachers were resolute. And a week and a half later, the district lifted the ban, allowing access on teacher computers, but not on students' computers for safety reasons.
"Everybody was really sharing and talking, and when they put a stop to it we got more and more interest," Fragomeni said. "And I think there was such a discussion on why it was banned that they lifted the ban."
Now educators in Troy are back to sharing resources on the Common Core across all subject areas. And by searching for "Common Core" on Pinterest, they keep turning up more strategies and ideas they can use to help their students go deeper in learning.