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St. Lawrence Central School plans common core presentation

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BRASHER FALLS - St. Lawrence Central School officials say they’ll answer all questions and concerns about the new Common Core curriculum during a Dec. 10 presentation.

The informational sessions kicks off at 6 p.m. in the high school auditorium, and child care will be provided for participating families.

“We’ll have kind of a quick PowerPoint version of what the Common Core is. Then we truly want to get into people’s questions. If we don’t have answers, we will find answers and we’ll post the answers on Google docs and our web page. We want to make sure we’re answering everybody’s questions,” middle school Principal Christopher W. Rose said.

Elementary Principal Johnathan R. Hirschey said he will join Mr. Rose and high school Principal Tracy A. Davison in giving the PowerPoint presentation, and the three administrators will be joined by teachers from each of the district’s three schools for a panel discussion.

“We’ll talk about college and career readiness and international and statewide data as it pertains to the Common Core,” Mr. Hirschey said.

The discussion will also focus on the Common Core standards and what’s different, as well as “what works best and what parents can do,” he said.

“We’ll follow up with a question-and-answer panel discussion with teachers from each of the three schools and three administrators,” Mr. Hirschey said.

Mr. Rose said they want to make sure everyone’s questions are answered before they leave the session.

“We’re trying to get the word out about what Common Core is. Our main focus is to answer questions from parents. We want to hear questions, concerns, the pluses and minuses people have, what they’re seeing from their kids when they get home as far as homework,” he said.

“What were also looking for is, are they seeing that their students are looking deeper into things? Do they notice a difference in what their kids are bringing home? It’s not just simple memorization anymore. They should be seeing some of those things,” Mr. Rose said. “We’re not here to defend it, but we’re not against it either.”

Mr. Rose and Mr. Hirschey said students and teachers have seen some changes in the classroom as a result of the Common Core implementation this year.

“Some of the things I’ve seen as a result of the Common Core have been absolutely phenomenal,” Mr. Hirschey said.

In kindergarten, for instance, students were asked to create a linear figure of 10.

“The kids were able to take 10 blocks and put them into a tower,” he said.

They were then asked to place those in a 5 by 5 array, which they successfully did, Mr. Hirschey said.

At the fourth-grade level, students were working on adding unlike units, such as kilometers and meters.

“They were able to regroup. It’s not the fact that they were able to get the answer, they were able to justify the different ways to use it,” he said.

Mr. Rose said the the introduction of the Common Core has been a process with change along the way. Four modules that were used in seventh-grade English were changed before Thanksgiving, and the books that had been required for modules three and four were no longer required. That means the district had to purchase the new modules.

The administrators said they have stayed on top of the Common Core and any changes through professional development sessions offered with the local Board of Cooperative Educational Services, as well as a network team.

“We get a lot of support through the network team that goes to Albany and comes back with information to disseminate,” Mr. Hirschey said.

“The BOCES people helped present at Potsdam’s first (Common Core presentation) that they did in October. We’re using a lot of the same materials,” Mr. Rose said.

Other Common Core reference materials are provided through the Engage New York website at www.engageny.org, he said.

“We want to be able to offer this to parents. We know their concerns. We have the ability to reach out and provide assistance,” Mr. Hirschey said.

“I hope we get a good turnout,” Mr. Rose said. “If there’s any one meeting that you’re going to come to that’s going to affect your children’s lives for years to come, this is it. If you want answers, please come. If your question gets answered and you don’t want to sit through the rest of the presentation, feel free to leave. We’re going to answer everyone’s questions.”

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