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The Common Core Curriculum Cleaning: Don’t Throw Out Everything!

 Posted by on March 25, 2015  Common Core  Comments Off on The Common Core Curriculum Cleaning: Don’t Throw Out Everything!
Mar 252015

When looking at the Common Core, it can seem as if our entire curriculum needs to be thrown out in favor of new materials and methods.  It is easy to see all of the differences the Core presents when compared to our current instruction, and it can be overwhelming to consider all of the changes that need to be made.  But, wait!  Before you say out with the old and in with the new, take a moment to look for pieces in the Core that are familiar and can be taught with your existing methods and materials.

For example, there are ELA standards at 3rd, 4th,and 5th grade that focus on main idea:

Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.

Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text.

Finding the main idea is an important skill you already teach in your classroom and can continue doing so to meet these Core standards.  While the Core shifts focus from teaching skills to teaching concepts, students still need to know what a main idea is and how to find it before they can start applying that knowledge to the literature they read.


This StarrMatica practice activity can help students practice discriminating between a main idea and supporting details.





The StarrMatica activity encourages students to write a newspaper headline that will tell the main idea of an article.

Newspaper Headlines


There are also ELA standards at 3rd, 4th,and 5th grade that focus on context clues:

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from non-literal language.

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g., Herculean).

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.

Before students can comprehend and analyze a text, they need to be able to identify the meaning of unknown words.  This is another skill you were already teaching in your classroom that can be continued to meet these Core standards.

StarrMatica’s learning animations teach students how to find Synonym Clues, Definition Clues, Contrast Clues, Experience Clues, Example Clues, and Explanation Clues to figure out the meaning of an unknown word.


This StarrMatica activity then encourages them to use what they have learned to determine the meaning of new words.

Leaping Lilies


Some tried and true teaching methods and resources are tried and true for a reason.  They teach timeless skills and should remain in your classroom as an important, effective part of your Common Core instruction.

Web Tools to Help Your Students Shine

 Posted by on March 19, 2015  Content Recommendations  Comments Off on Web Tools to Help Your Students Shine
Mar 192015

notebookWhen you give students options of ways they can demonstrate their learning, does your list include digital resources for your tech-savvy students?  Here are five ways you can engage students in sharing their knowledge using online digital tools.  All of the tools shared are free to use, yet some require sign-up if you want to save student work.

  • Students can design a newspaper, brochure, flyer, poster, or sign to demonstrate their knowledge about any topic that requires a visual presentation–think character studies, state reports, environmental issues.


  • Students can upload a photo or create an avatar and make it talk by recording their voice to make its mouth move.  This resource is perfect for biographical presentations.  Imagine George Washington telling the class about his life!



  • Students can create a postcard about a place they would like to travel to demonstrate their knowledge about a specific geographic location or a specific culture.


  • Students can create animated stories for creative writing or as book reports.



  • Students can add photos, video, notes, and documents to a blank canvas.  This resource can be used in every subject anytime a visual presentation is required.


  • Students can create their own online illustrated stories just like a professional author!