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Education Nation 2013: Common Core Teacher Institute

<p>To help teachers better understand what the Common Core State Standards will mean for classroom instruction, we hosted a Common Core Teacher Institute in collaboration with Teaching Channel.</p>
NBC News - Education Nation - Season 2013
Education Nation 2013: Common Core Teacher Institute - (Photo by: Heidi Gutman/NBC)Heidi Gutman/NBC

To help teachers better understand what the Common Core State Standards will mean for classroom instruction, we hosted a Common Core Teacher Institute following the 2013 Education Nation Teacher Town Hall in collaboration with Teaching Channel.

We worked with an expert advisory committee to select model teachers who demonstrated lessons during three different workshops: grades K-5 ELA, literacy, and mathematics; grades 6-12 ELA and literacy; and grades 6-12 mathematics. Social studies and science were included in the workshops to illustrate how teachers can align lessons to the literacy standards for those specific content areas.

Teaching Channel hosted a Common Core Challenge based on the workshop videos and resources. Details are available at Teaching Channel's website.

The lead sponsor of the Institute was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The American Federation of Teachers and The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust were supporting sponsors. NBC Learn, the New York Public Library, and Teaching Channel served as knowledge partners.

You can watch all three workshops below and download the accompanying Common Core Instructional Practice Guide for each lesson at

English Language Arts & Literacy, Grade 2

When Charlie McButton Lost Power: A Read-Aloud Lesson; Presented by Catherine Schmidt



About the Teacher

Catherine Schmidt

Catherine Schmidt works in Nevada as a Striving Readers Elementary Training Coordinator for the Washoe County School District in Reno, NV. She holds a bachelor's degree in economics with Honors from Pennsylvania State University as well as a teaching credential and Master of Arts in teaching from Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village, NV. In the past fourteen years, she has taught second grade, fifth grade, and kindergarten interventions and has been a school site Reading First Literacy Coordinator, serving kindergarten through third grade. At the district level, Catherine served two years as an Implementation Specialist in Washoe County before joining Striving Readers. Catherine is a Student Achievement Partners Fellow, a contributor to the Basal Alignment Project, and a Core Task Project Facilitator. She recently served on the U.S. Department of Education’s Technical Review Panel and on the IES Technical Working Group Meeting: Researching College and Career Ready Standards to Improve Student Outcomes. She has also contributed to the Institute for Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) Primary Source Project.

Mathematics, Grade 4

Understanding, Modeling, and Creating Equivalent Fractions; Presented by Kisha Davis-Caldwell



About the Teacher

Kisha Davis-Caldwell

Kisha Davis-Caldwell is a National Board Certified Teacher in early adolescent mathematics. She is currently an elementary mathematics coach in Howard County, MD. Her teaching career spans 18 years in various grades in the K-12 spectrum, at both public and private schools in the U.S. and abroad. Kisha’s leadership experience includes curriculum development, instructional mentoring, and professional development facilitation. As the recipient of the Freeman Foundation Award and a participant in the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Program, Kisha has a global perspective on education. This perspective has been shaped by her experiences studying abroad at the University of Beijing, teaching in Japan, and exploring schools in Australia, China, England, Italy, and New Zealand. From 2010-2012, Kisha served as Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow for the National Science Foundation and the White House’s Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Kisha is a member of NCTM, NSTA, MSEA, and HCEA, and she serves as a member of NEA’s Common Core Working Group. She is also an adjunct professor for National University, where she works with teachers pursuing their master’s degree and National Board Certification.

English Language Arts & Literacy, Grade 5

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Close Reading of a Non-Fiction Text; Presented by Sayuri Stabrowski



About the Teacher

Sayuri Stabrowski

Sayuri Stabrowski is a director of instruction and an 8th grade reading teacher at KIPP Infinity Middle School in Harlem. Before joining KIPP Infinity as a founding 7th Grade ELA Teacher, Sayuri taught 5th grade as member of the 2005 Teach For America corps. She holds a bachelor's degree in history with High Honors from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master's in teaching from Pace University. In her nine years in education, Sayuri has taught 4th through 8th grades in New York City. As a director of instruction and a reading teacher, she divides her time between teaching, planning her own lessons, and coaching other literacy and content teachers. This year, Sayuri is serving as a KIPP Featured Teacher, sharing all of her lessons, materials, assessments, and intervention plans with hundreds of teachers across the country through an online sharing platform.

6-12 English Language Arts & Literacy

Meeting our Monsters: A Lesson in Text Synthesis; Presented by Sarah Brown Wessling



About the Teacher

Sarah Brown Wessling

Sarah Brown Wessling is a 15-year veteran of the high school English classroom. As a member of the faculty at Johnston High School in Johnston, IA, she has taught courses for students at different achievement levels -- from at-risk to Advanced Placement -- and has served the department and district in a variety of leadership roles. Sarah has been a National Board Certified Teacher since 2005, and, in 2010, she was selected as the National Teacher of the Year. As National Teacher of the Year, Sarah worked as an ambassador for education, giving over 250 talks and workshops in 39 different states, Japan, and Finland. Sarah currently teaches in the mornings and works for the not-for-profit Teaching Channel in the afternoons as its Teacher Laureate and host of its PBS show Teaching Channel Presents. She is an author of Supporting Students in a Time of Core Standards and blogs on education issues for Huffington Post.

Literacy in Science, Grades 11-12

How are Mitochondria Connected to the Aging Process?: A Text-Based Lesson in Science; Presented by Veeko Lucas



About the Teacher

Veeko Lucas

Veeko Lucas has been teaching at Iroquois High School in Jefferson County Public Schools, KY since 2009. He has taught 9th grade physical science and 11th grade biology. As a teacher of primarily 9th grade students, Veeko has been using literacy in the classroom since the Common Core was implemented in Kentucky in 2010. In addition to his career at Iroquois, he is studying in the Summer Principals Academy with Columbia University, with the goal of becoming an administrator to oversee the initial rollout of Common Core-aligned assessments. He is also a member of Kentucky’s Education Commissioner’s Teacher Advisory Council, and he teaches at a literacy- and behavior-support program called Street Academy on the weekends.

Literacy in History, Grade 10

"The Significance of the Frontier in American History": A Text-Based Lesson in History; Presented by Kathy Thiebes



About the Teacher

Kathy Thiebes

In 2009, Kathy Thiebes began developing and teaching curriculum driven by the Common Core State Standards using tools created by the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) initiative. Since that time, she has become part of the LDC design team and enjoys sharing her experiences using LDC tools with teachers around the country. Kathy is starting her 9th year of teaching at Centennial High School in Gresham, OR, where she teaches students of varying grades and skill levels. Kathy also supports her school and students as the advisor of the National Honor Society.

Mathematics, Grade 8

Recognizing Linear Functions; Presented by William McKinney



About the Teacher

William McKinney

William McKinney attended UNC-Chapel Hill, where he chose to study mathematics and economics with the intention of going into business. After extensive traveling and an internship with HSBC Insurance in Hong Kong, he realized he wanted to pursue a job where he could have more of an impact and share his passions with others. After graduating from UNC in 2008, William was accepted into Yale’s Urban Education Studies program for his master’s degree. William just started his fifth year at Wilbur Cross High School, in New Haven, CT, where he teaches Algebra 1 and AP Microeconomics.

Mathematics, High School

Ferris Wheel: Trigonometric Functions; Presented by Tiffany Utoft



About the Teacher

Tiffany Utoft

Tiffany Utoft is the Integration Project Manger for the Thompson School District, in northern Colorado. In this role she focuses on integrating standards, assessment and evaluation reform efforts in Colorado. During the past four years, Tiffany has been an innovative mathematics teacher at Mountain View High School in Loveland, Colorado. She has been instrumental in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards Educator Evaluation reform efforts within the Thompson School District, the state of Colorado, and at a national level.

Mathematics, Grade 7

Proportional Relationships; Presented by Joseph Almeida



About the Teacher

Joseph Almeida

Joseph Almeida is the sixth-grade mathematics teacher at KIPP STAR College Prep Charter School in New York City, where he has written the curriculum and assessment systems. He is also the Official Point Person for the KIPP NYC Mathematics Working Group. In 2011, Almeida led his students to earn the second-highest scores in Manhattan among charter schools on the statewide mathematics test. Teach for America selected Almeida as its National Teacher of the Year, awarding him the Sue Lehmann Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2007. The Georgetown graduate has appeared on national news networks, national publications and is a featured educator in Steven Farr's book, Teaching As Leadership: The Highly Effective Teacher's Guide to Closing the Achievement Gap. During the 2011-2012 academic year, Almeida was a founding second grade teacher and mathematics department chair at Alma del Mar Charter School in his hometown of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Almeida is an America Achieves Fellow as well as a Student Achievement Partners Fellow. He creates mathematics videos on his popular Youtube channel at that focus on conceptual understanding, procedural skill and fluency, and the application of mathematics to real-world problems for not only students, but also parents and teachers.

Common Core Resources

Free resources to help educators implement the Common Core State Standards

The following list of resources was developed as part of the NBC News Education Nation Common Core Teacher Institute, in partnership with leading non-profits and teachers unions focused on implementing the Common Core: America Achieves, American Federation of Teachers, National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, National Education Association, Student Achievement Partners, and the Teaching Channel.

Achieve The Core

Achieve The Core, run by Student Achievement Partners, is a website full of free content designed to help educators understand and implement the Common Core State Standards. It includes practical tools designed to help students and teachers see their hard work deliver results. was created in the spirit of collaboration - the content available on the site is assembled by and for educators and is freely available to everyone to use, modify and share.

CCSS Instructional Practice Guides

The CCSS Instructional Practice Guide provides specific guidance on what the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts & Literacy look like in the classroom. It is intended to help teachers (and those who support teachers) build understanding of the CCSS and strengthen practice; it can be used for planning and self-reflection, peer-to-peer observation and feedback, and instructional coaching. There are separate guides for mathematics (K-8 and high school) and ELA/literacy (K-2, 3-5, 6-12 ELA, 6-12 Literacy in History/Social Studies, and 6-12 Literacy in Science & Technical Subjects).

Basal Alignment Project Lessons (ELA/Literacy, Grades 3-5)

The Basal Alignment Project offers an online library of free revised lessons for common Basal reading series (3rd-5th grades), each carefully aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Each lesson includes quality text-dependent questions, improved tasks, and a focus on academic vocabulary. Lessons have been collaboratively authored by teams of teachers. The Basal Alignment Project builds district capacity to better align existing materials to the English Language Arts and Literacy Common Core State Standards while new CCSS-aligned materials are developed and published.

Anthology Alignment Project Lessons (ELA/Literacy, Grades 6-10)

The Anthology Alignment Project offers an online library of free revised lessons for common Anthologies (6th-10th grades), each carefully aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Each lesson includes quality text-dependent questions, improved tasks, and a focus on academic vocabulary. Lessons have been collaboratively authored by teams of teachers. The Anthology Alignment Project builds district capacity to better align existing materials to the English Language Arts and Literacy Common Core State Standards while new CCSS-aligned materials are developed and published.

America Achieves

America Achieves Videos

The America Achieves website helps teachers to implement the Common Core by showing videos of real classrooms and teachers demonstrating the key shifts that Common Core brings to their pedagogy. The videos provide time segments marked with tips such as, “citing text evidence” so teachers know what to look for in key parts of the lesson. The site also has free downloadable lesson resources, student work, and links to teachers analyzing their own lessons and progress in implementing Common Core.


The EQuIP (Educators Evaluating Quality Instructional Products) rubrics allow teachers to evaluate lessons and units that include instructional activities, assessments aligned to the CCSS, and integrated lesson sets that extend over a few class periods, days, or longer periods. By using the EQuIP rubric as a tool, teachers can build their capacity to evaluate and improve the quality of instructional materials for their classroom, and can increase the supply of high quality lessons and units aligned to the CCSS. The rubrics were designed through a collaborative process between educators in the America Diploma Project Network.

American Federation of Teachers

Share My Lesson

AFT Share My Lesson’s Common Core Free Information Center has a wealth of resources to help educators, parents, and community members better understand the Common Core State Standards. Available resources include Common Core-aligned lessons, parent letters in English and Spanish, recent news articles on the Common Core, a blog on Common Core implementation written by classroom teachers, as well as the standards themselves.

Colorín Colorado

Colorín Colorado is a bilingual site for families and educators of English language learners (ELLs). It was launched 10 years ago as a collaborative project of the AFT and PBS Station WETA. Colorín Colorado recently released its Common Core State Standards and ELLs page, where users can find lesson plans, classroom videos, video interviews on preparing for the Common Core, as well as parent resources. Lesson plans and resources from the Albuquerque Common Core Project have received rave reviews and include: lesson plans for grades 1, 4, and 8 with matching classroom videos; videos interviews with participating teachers, AFT state leaders, and researchers; and background on the Project.

Illustrative Mathematics

Illustrative Mathematics (Sample Tasks/Lessons)

Illustrative Mathematics is an initiative of the Institute for Mathematics & Education at the University of Arizona. The Illustrative Mathematics website contains hundreds of free CCSS-aligned sample problems, videos, and other resources, organized by grade, standard, and domain.

Literacy Design Collaborative

Literacy Design Collaborative

The Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) offers a fresh approach to incorporating literacy into middle and high school content areas. Designed to make literacy instruction the foundation of the core subjects, LDC allows teachers to build content on top of a coherent approach to literacy. This is drastically different than past, less structured notions of “adding” reading and writing when possible to the teaching of content. The LDC work started with a small practitioner team set on addressing the intransigent challenges of adolescent literacy. Partners use the LDC framework as a common chassis to create LDC tasks, modules, and courses designed to teach students to meet Common Core literacy standards while engaging in demanding content. LDC partners and teachers are trying out the LDC strategy, sharing insights about results, proposing ways to design the LDC tools, and moving LDC to wider use. At the same time, other partners are building a set of LDC supports to help teachers in the challenging work of consistently and systemically teaching secondary students to achieve high-level literacy skills.

Math Design Collaborative

Math Design Collaborative

The Mathematics Design Collaborative (MDC) is a group of curriculum designers, assessment developers, professional learning specialists, and district and school networks creating resources and tools that support teachers in implementing the Common Core Math Standards. Research has shown that formative assessment is a powerful way to improve student learning and performance. This approach first allows students to demonstrate their prior understandings and abilities in employing the mathematical practices, and then involves students in resolving their own difficulties and misconceptions through structured discussion. Central to MDC are sets of Formative Assessment Lessons (FALs) or Classroom Challenges. Each set is aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and is designed to sit within CCSS-aligned courses of study. There are two types of Classroom Challenges. Concept development lessons are meant to first reveal students’ prior knowledge, then develop students’ understanding of important mathematical ideas, connecting concepts to other mathematical knowledge. Problem solving lessons are meant to assess, then develop, students’ ability to apply their mathematical knowledge and reasoning in flexibly ways to non-routine, unstructured problems – within mathematics and with real world applications.

National Education Association

Toolkit and Other Resources

This toolkit is intended to be a fully dynamic source of information on Common Core State Standards. Reviewed in its entirety, the toolkit provides general background and links to pertinent information about the CCSS, as well as practical assistance and planning. Users can download editable materials and presentations in smaller chunks that may be used in a variety of settings. Video resources have been included for individual use, as well as for sharing in larger settings. The toolkit and other resources will be updated periodically as implementation of the Standards progresses.

Teaching Channel

Teaching Channel Videos

Teaching Channel Teaching Channel is a video showcase -- on the Internet and Public Television -- of innovative and effective teaching practices in America's public schools. There are nearly 800 videos to choose from, many of which allow teachers to see the Common Core standards in action in real life classrooms. Teaching Channel’s Teacher Laureate, Sarah Brown Wessling (the 2010 National Teacher of the Year), also offers video tutorials and e-books on implementing Core basics. Supplemental resources accompany each video, and teachers can write time-stamped notes on each video to share with their colleagues. Teaching Channel also offers a live Q&A exchange so that teachers can ask any question about the Common Core and get email alerts when they get answers online.

Institute Advisory Committee

Our advisory committee members have sent us the below descriptions of their organizations.

America Achieves

The mission of America Achieves is for each young person to be prepared for success in careers, college, and citizenship. America Achieves supports leaders and communities with real potential for large-scale success by: offering fellowships that tap into the expertise of some of America's most promising educators and policymakers; disseminating tools that generate support for high expectations for all students; and developing recommendations and bipartisan support for investing public funds in results-oriented, data-based solutions for young people and their families.

American Federation of Teachers

The American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do.

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

The mission of the National Board is to advance student learning and achievement by establishing the definitive standards and systems for certifying accomplished educators, providing programs and advocating policies that support excellence in teaching and leading, and engaging National Board Certified Teachers and leaders in that process.

National Education Association

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

Student Achievement Partners

Student Achievement Partners is a non-profit organization that assembles educators and researchers to design strategies based on evidence that will substantially improve student achievement. Founded by David Coleman, Susan Pimentel and Jason Zimba, lead writers of the Common Core State Standards, the organization views the changes brought by the college and career readiness focus of the Standards as a once-in-a-generation opportunity for kids of all backgrounds and ability levels to better fulfill their potential. Student Achievement Partners works closely with teachers on all tools it develops and supports teachers by making all resources available on for anyone to use, modify or share.

Teaching Channel (Tch)

Teaching Channel revolutionizes how teachers learn, connect and inspire each other and their communities to improve instruction and student outcomes in America's K–12 classrooms. A nonprofit organization, Tch engages teachers across the country to reinvent and revolutionize professional learning through video content and online innovation.