COMMON CORE TEXTBOOKS ARRIVE Elementaries Get First All-New Teaching Tools for District in 25 Years

By Lawrence-Turner, Jody | The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), July 30, 2014 | Go to article overview

COMMON CORE TEXTBOOKS ARRIVE Elementaries Get First All-New Teaching Tools for District in 25 Years


Lawrence-Turner, Jody, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA)


New textbooks are arriving at elementary schools in Spokane County's largest district, launching widespread adoption of the Common Core curriculum.

Common Core is a set of national standards in language arts and math education that's been adopted by most states, including Washington and Idaho.

Some teachers at Roosevelt Elementary School on Spokane's South Hill called the massive book delivery "Christmas in July." Not only does it comply with new state standards, it's the first time the district has had all-new teaching tools in 25 years.

"They had piecemeal things before, and they had to spend a lot of time making it fit together," said Karin Thompson, elementary curriculum coordinator. With the new materials, "now they get to focus on the art and science of teaching," she said.

Finding new materials has been a challenge since the national standards were adopted less than four years ago and many texts are still being written, Spokane Public Schools officials said. The new curriculum for language arts, called "Journeys," cost just under $3,000 per classroom, or $1.9 million for 32 elementary schools in the district.

"I'm really excited about it," said Kate Lyle, a Roosevelt kindergarten teacher who tested the "Journeys" curriculum last year. "The texts are really engaging. The kids are having so much fun they don't know how much they are learning."

The new language arts curriculum includes reading, writing, speaking, listening, vocabulary and grammar.

Each week there's a theme. For younger students it might be animals or behavior, and in the upper grades the themes are based on science or social studies, school officials said. Storybooks, writing lessons, vocabulary and library materials all fit with the themes to make the lessons seamless.

"Before we were reinventing the wheel," said Sandra Olsen, a fourth-grade teacher at Roosevelt. "Now it's all here for us."

Common Core standards accelerate grade-level expectations by about two years to better prepare students to enter college or the workforce and to compete in a global economy.

Because of that, school officials expect students' performance on state assessments to be low this spring, the first such tests after introduction of the Common Core. …

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