Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Clear Common Core

Parents at PS101Q in Forest Hills,
NY attend a Common Core Fair to
learn and understand what the
Common Core State Standards
is all about.
On February 6th, 2013, PS101Q in Forest Hills, NY, an elementary school of about 600 students in PreK-6, held a Common Core Fair Night for parents, staff, and student teachers.  The purpose of the Common Core Fair was to communicate to parents what the Common Core is and what a Common Core lesson looks like in a classroom setting.  The goal was to showcase the Common Core so that our strongest supporters, our parents, would have a better understanding of the rigorous work that students are being exposed to and what is being done to get the job done before the mandated 2014 roll-out. 

So, why a Common Core Fair Night?

Back in January, parents attended a workshop regarding the new Common Core-like NYS Tests in both ELA and Math that their children were about to face.  I presented the information to the parents and every time I mentioned those scary words, 'Common Core,' there were more and more blank faces in the audience.  Parents simply didn't know what I was talking about.  They heard of the Common Core, but it was clear that teachers and administrators knew much more about it than they did.

It can't be said enough -- learning the Common Core as an educator is one thing -- explaining and communicating the Common Core to parents is a whole new ballgame.  

How it was done:

Teachers who are on staff at PS101Q volunteered to help convey the message by taking a Common Core lesson and delivering that lesson to parents as if they were students.  Upper and lower grade CCSS Math and ELA workshops were offered along with CCSS assessments, technology, Science, CCSS Math games, and even Visual Arts were offered.  The goal was to have parents experience different components of the Common Core across the entire spectrum of the curriculum.  Focus on high text complexities, the language of the Common Core, high-level thinking conversations, and the overall work that is being done to challenge students to become college and career ready was explained and demonstrated.  Best of all, the parents did the work that their children do so that they would be able to take their experiences home to further assist work that is continued long after a school day has ended.

To further draw parents in to this extremely important educational event, we also enlisted outside organizations and companies like Scholastic, Common Core Questions, Answer Underground, BrainPOP, Quizlet, Cacoo, Common Core by Mastery Connect, Pearson, SpellingCity, Watch-Know-Learn, TEQ, iThoughts, Wordflex, and Children's First Network 207 for additional help and support with give-a-ways, promotional material, demonstrations, and even free raffles.  All of the help we got was highly enthusiastic support and it really made the night feel whole.

Technology played a roll as well.  PS101Q's website displayed Common Core Fair Night information with a Google Forms registration link that would provide preliminary attendance numbers.  PS101Q's Twitter feed was also used to communicate the event along with reminders from Constant Contact e-mail blasts.  Of course, we went the old-fashioned route as well too -- sending home paper flyers.  

The bottom line -- spread the word to your parents regarding the Common Core, what it is, what it isn't, what it's intended to accomplish, and how it affects our teachers, students, and yes...parents too.


  1. This was a great night! Instructional support staff from Children First Network 207 were also on hand to provide assistance.

    1. Yes, the Children's First Network was a huge part of the support for the school's been added to the list of other supporters in the blog.