Tag Archives: Common Core

Common Core: What does it look like in the classroom?

Common Core

I have been a Common Core junkie since the beginning. 6 years ago I went out of county to get basic training. It was love at first site.

I was a rebel as a teacher.  I ditched my textbook about the 4th year in my career. It was easy to see that the curriculum wasn’t doing anything for my students. And, to add insult to injury, when I sat down with the state standards, the text book didn’t cover the standards AND the text meant for my 5th graders was actually a 3rd grade reading level. So when Common Core came down the line, I was eager to re-energize my self-built curriculum with rigor and choice.

That, for me, was my beginning of understanding what Common Core was and what it looked like in the classroom. Despite all of the training that I’ve had since, and all of the practice that I’ve done, I still felt uncertain when someone asked “so, what does it look like?”

So, what does it look like?

This is the most fair question that I come across because it speaks so deeply to a common problem in education. Sometimes, awesome ideas, tools, resources, and programs are adopted at initiatives and teachers who aren’t part of the conversation are expected to change their practice, the practice they think has worked for them, sometimes for decades. Too many times I see teachers being given theory, when practice is really what we need.

Achieve The Core – Beyond The Lesson

There is no magic bullet. However, this little beauty is pretty darn close. It’s a single page, easy to ready, and easy to use, and it’s flexible for many uses. It can be used as a non-evaluative observation tool. It can be used by teachers as a lesson plan guide. The questions can also be used by teachers as a a way to guide the self-reflection that good teachers need to become great teachers. It’s also a pretty awesome discussion tool.

Check it out!

common core

It Gets Better

Hopefully, you’ve taken a few minutes to click on the image, or the words above, to visit the Beyond the Lesson tool. If not, take a few seconds.

I’ll wait.


Isn’t it great?

Now that you’ve gotten a taste of how AchieveTheCore.org ‘s awesomeness. Get ready to dig in for the entire meal.

The Instructional Practice Guide

This little beauty is short, to the point, and makes creating lessons, reviewing lessons, reflecting on lessons, and everything in between a breeze. The Instructional Practice Guide (IPG) is split into 3 Core Actions.

Click HERE to get the IPG

Core Action 1: Focus each lesson on high0quality text (or multiple texts) Of course, this can also be media, primary sources, secondary sources, poetry, and much more. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly limiting word “text.”

Core Action 2: Employ questions and tasks, both oral and written, that are text-specific and accurately addressed the analytical thinking required by the grade-level standards. How much more simple is this? I love that it focuses the efforts of the teachers into a specific direction that will really give their students a real taste of what a Common Core Classroom looks and feels like.

Core Action 3: Provide all student with opportunities to engage in the work of the lesson. ALL students. This is huge. Your low kids, your high kids, your purple kids, your pink kids, your tall kids, your short kids, your EOs, your ELLs, your athletic kids, your techy kids. ALL kids have the right to learn. This Core Action speaks deeply to my philosophies and beliefs.

Each Core Action has a subset of skills with a rubric for ranking. Even though there is a rubric, it’s meant as a tool to measure growth, not as an evaluative tool that’s mean to to be scored and weighed.

No More Uncertainty

If you feel uncertain when someone asks “Ok, but what does it look like in the classroom?” I would encourage you to check out these resources.

What tools do you find the most useful when implementing the Common Core standards?

Tell me in the comments below. Life can get crazy, and busy, and can go by in a blur, but take a few minutes to reach out. I’d love to chat with you.

My name is Jenna, the EduSlayer. I’m writing this blog to give teachers shortcuts to getting the most out of their time.  If you want to learn more about how I keep track of the many moving parts of my job, check out my post about how I use my Digital Bullet Journal and get your own FREE template.

Check out my OnePageNGSS tool. All of the NGSS standards in one place.

Feeling stressed? Do you rush through your day, or you do live each moment? If you want to learn about how I decrease my stress and made healthy choices habitual and effortless (and lost 40 pounds  in the process,) check out my post about the importance of routines.

Now, go out and EduSLAY!

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Kiddom Will Save Teachers Time and Hassle, All For FREE!!


I knew the minute I met Abbas Manjee that Kiddom was something magical for teachers.


First off, this guy had passion. It was more than an undirected, general passion. It was an educated passion, an articulate passion, that was perfectly aligned with my teacher-heart: making high-quality content accessible to teachers and students. How could I have known by the inviting smile of this former high school math teacher, that Kiddom would prove to be one of the most transformative pieces of technology out there? You can call it instinct, but I call it simple luck.

Abbas is Kiddom’s Chief Academic Officer. I met Abbas when I was invited to do an Ignite Talk hosted by EdSurge in Oakland. After I slayed my Ignite talk, I got to mingle with the educators and education technology folks. Abbas was one of the first people I connected with because the Kiddom team looked like they were buzzing with teachers excited about what they do. So, I meandered his way with a coffee cup and curiosity.

The first thing I asked was if Kiddom was free.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that there are beautiful programs out there that change lives and are worth every penny they might cost. However, in Jenna-land, things need to be free. I was shocked that his answer was, “Of course. Why would we charge teachers anything?” @Yo_Mista @Kiddomapp Click To Tweet (And, despite its success, it remains free.)

All right, touché Mr. Manjee, touché. As he described his experience teaching over-age high school students in New York City, I found myself relating the story of hours spent researching materials and activities that would meet the standards and connect with my students. We both agreed the time was well spent, but that finding it was so much time.

I asked him, “Wouldn’t it be great if someone just put it all in one place?”

“That’s what we’re trying to do at Kiddom. I love comic books, so I think of Kiddom as Batman’s utility belt for teachers. Kiddom gives easy access to the tools you need when they need them. But when they don’t need them, they stay out of your way. It’s not clunky.”

Mind. Blown.

He walked me through the basics, but I was not prepared. To be honest, Kiddom does a lot and they have a lofty goal, so it’s hard to succinctly describe the scope of its capabilities, but essentially, Kiddom helps teachers plan, assess, and analyze student learning via a variety of user-friendly interconnected tools.

Library – Free Resources, Quizzes, and More

Kiddom’s platform connects directly to a library packed with videos, quizzes, activities and more. They do all of the heavy lifting so you can focus on student progress and commit less time to scouring the internet for something useful, and more time building a real individual picture of what your students look like, their strengths, and where they need support.

You might ask where all of this vetted content comes from. The answer may surprise you. Kiddom’s library offers materials from places like Khan Academy, CommonLit, CK-12, PBS Learning Media, Newsela, and much more. This gives you a plethora of resources from the best sites with a search engine that allows you filter according to standards and content.

Planner – A Digital Curriculum Tool


Planner is your best friend. You don’t need to scour the internet for resources and activities. You make curriculum once, and then click and drag assignments directly into your class’s timeline. Or, you can drag and assign it directly to an individual student’s timeline! No headaches, no fingers tired from over-typing. You get vetted content and can create student learning pathways using click and drag tools and lessons. Each lesson you assign provides vital feedback and data that you can use to tailor resources and instruction to meet the needs of your students in an interactive and engaging way that also has massive credibility.

The planner can be used like Pinterest, which means that you can save ideas that you like, but may not want to use now. You can also organize your assignments into categories based on topics or standards. You can even create more than one course. Which means that once you organize your lessons into a curriculum that you can share them across all of your classes.

Oh, and did I mention Kiddom’s planner is integrated with Google Drive? That means you can access and assign students any Google Drive attachment, right from Kiddom! You get all the perks of Google Classroom right from this nifty feature.

Gradebook and Reports – Beautiful and Meaningful


More like EMPOWERbook. This tool functions like a grade book on hyper drive because it has a variety of beautiful, full colored reports that you can use to analyze student growth and which steps to take next.

Kiddom’s reports are unique because you not only get overall class mastery reports but with a single click you can instantly convert those whole class reports into individual reports. This means that you get to spend your time analyzing and taking action on your student data, instead of grading to just get the data!

Collaboration and Sharing – Co-Teachers Rejoice!

I am a huge proponent of #BetterTogether. I am only as good as the people I collaborate with. The problem that arises with using a full platform is that it is challenging to share class and individual progress with administrators, coaches, TOSAs, and other people you might work with. Well, Kiddom has created a collaboration tool that will make it clear to anyone, no matter what their stake, where your class is in their academic journey.

Not only can you collaborate on Kiddom, you can decide what level to invite your collaborative partner into your Kiddom account. If you grant “view only” access, collaborators will not be able to edit or modify your lessons. This would be super useful to share with the people who support you in meeting your students’ needs. “View only” will grant someone access to view without the ability to change your content. This is great when you are working with a coach or TOSA. This is even beneficial for principals because all it takes is a glance to see what you’re doing in your classroom.

However, sometimes we work in teams. Sometimes teachers of different content subjects get together to build cross-curricular units. Sometimes you co-teach, or team-teach. Don’t worry, Kiddom’s got you covered, too. You can grant a collaborator “edit” permission collaborators can make changes, as well as have access to class or individual reports. If I were still in the classroom I would collaborate with my RSP teacher, my ELD teacher, and my PE teacher so they all had access to create their own assignments, or so they have a better picture of how they can support each of my students.

Student Dashboard – And It Works on iPads and iPhones

One of the most powerful things we can encourage our students to do is “own” their learning. Research tells us that students who feel an ownership will approach classroom tasks very differently from a student who is passive. Kiddom is built for student engagement. Students have access to their very own dashboard where they can track their overall progress, progress on individual skills, and respond to teachers’ comments. Oh and their iOS app works well for students who are glued to their phones.

Parent Engagement

Parent engagement is one of the most challenging parts of our already challenging job. I have some sway with my students. I’ve built a relationship with them, but it proves a challenge when it comes time to build those same relationships with their parents.

We don’t spend as much time with parents as we do with students. In fact, most of what our parents know about us is what their children tell them. With full-time jobs and full-time parenting, we need to make it as clear as possible, as quickly as possible, where students are and how we are celebrating their successes and supporting their needs. Kiddom has parent-communication tools built in so that your parents know the exact location of their child’s academic and social emotional growth (did I mention they have a social emotional component?). Yeah. That’s real.

The Bottom Line

I’m not the only one singing the praises of Kiddom. Ann Leghorn, a high school teacher says, “Kiddom has made me stop and say ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know or am I really challenging them?’” Ann speaks to the importance of giving our lessons meaning.

Differentiation makes the content more accessible across ability levels. Although it’s key, it’s also very hard. Mrs. Oldenburg, a Special Education teacher in a Self-Contained Special Education Classroom. “Kiddom provides differentiation tools that allow me to reach all my students on their level!

If you haven’t tried Kiddom yet, they offer free and live digital demos! Or, if you’d rather learn it for yourself, check out these introductory videos. It might seem overwhelming, but if you reach out to the Kiddom team, they’ll support you. They even have a live chat feature in their app where you can ask them questions at any time. Oh, and if you already use Kiddom, take a second and send them some love. I’ve got a tweet below you can copy and paste, or throw them a digital high-five.

@Kiddomapp, keep up the good work! *digital high-five* #BetterTogether Click To Tweet
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