We are entering an exciting time here at Rocketship as we, along with the state of California, make our official move from using the state standards to guide teacher instruction to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This shift brings with it a domino effect that will change not only the way teachers instruct, but will also change the expectations for what success looks like for our Rocketeers.
With the transition, educators have been hearing about the “instructional shifts” that will need to take place in our teaching to ensure that children grow academically and meet the new set of expectations. As a network, we have been looking at how we will support our teachers and students through the switch.
Over the past year, school leaders and network staff met to dig into the CCSS. During this process, the team identified a set of power standards within both the math and the language arts frameworks. Rocketship teachers will use these power standards to focus instruction and drive academic gains for our Rocketeers. How we, as a network, support this work will be critical to the successful implementation of the CCSS.
Using the power standards, members of the achievement team developed a scope and sequence and instructional pacing guide to guide teacher planning. Over the summer and throughout the school year, teachers will receive professional development on how to use these tools to create highly engaging and challenging lessons for our students. While our teachers will be able to leverage the framework of the Power Standards in their instruction, we are also ensuring they have the flexibility to bring innovation and creativity into their lessons.
Additionally, Rocketship has identified two new achievement priorities for the 2014 -15 school year to support the roll out of the standards: the development of strong writing practices and of a conceptual understanding of mathematics.
To achieve these priorities, we have identified curricular materials and are making a concentrated effort toward professional development for our teachers.
Humanities teachers will receive ongoing training on developing units of study around the three writing genres students are expected to master. Teachers will design lessons that integrate writing across the curriculum, as well as deliver targeted writing instruction during the humanities block.
Math & Science
Math/Science teachers will be using the Singapore mathematics program to guide their planning and instruction as we roll out the Eight Standards of Mathematical Practice within the CCSS. Rocketship has also identified key math signature strategies that our teachers will be trained on to use as part of their instructional practice.
This first wave of professional development for our teachers will be supported by the achievement team through close, ongoing work with school leaders and the Vice President of Schools. Our standard active, weekly coaching and observation of teachers will be aligned to the CCSS frameworks to ensure that programs are being implemented with fidelity and rigor. Achievement and school teams will work together to make adjustments to ensure the delivery of a high quality program for all of our Rocketeers.
A successful, full transition to the Common Core framework will continue to take a high level of network-wide collaboration amongst our achievement teams, leadership teams and teachers. We are confident this work will contribute to our Rocketeers realizing greater academic gains this year and beyond.
Bill is the Vice President of Achievement for Rocketship. He recently relocated to the Bay Area from Chicago. He attended Ball State University for his undergraduate degree where he studied Special Education. Bill began his teaching career in South Carolina teaching middle school while earning his Masters from Clemson University. He then moved to Georgia where he continued his education at the University of Georgia. Before coming to Rocketship, Bill spent 22 years in Chicago working in the fields of teacher training and charter schools. When he is not at the office, Bill enjoys being outside on his bike, cooking, and watching college sports.