Common Core, Flipping the Class . . .Help!!

In a little more than 4 weeks I will be officially returning to the classroom facing new changes and challenges.  I love a challenge!  As if implementing the new Common Core Standards were not enough, I have made a decision to flip my classroom this year. Why you might ask? 

Flipping my class will free up more time to work with my students both individually and in small groups throughout the day. Students will view and review material at home or at computer stations in class if needed.  Instead of spending precious class time spoon-feeding my students content information, they will spend more in-class time applying what they have leaned while engaged in activities designed to enhance rigor and relevance.  In a nutshell, flipping my class will free up time so I can meet the needs of all of my students.  Will these changes mean I have to completely change everything I currently do?  Absolutely not!

One practice I will continue is reading picture books to my fifth grade students.  Yes!  I said picture books.  They are a great vehicle to integrate content lessons into an already jammed packed instructional day.  They can be easily read in 1 or 2 sittings and are an excellent way to teach the ELA College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards.

The Easy reader section in our library (which has been more appropriately renamed the “Everyone” Section by our librarian, Mrs. Buro) contains some of my favorite read aloud books.  Here are a few of my favorites that I will use at the beginning of the school year to enhance my study of the Civil War.
· Pink and Say, written by Patricia Polacco, has proven to be the perfect book to introduce the Civil War to my students.  Through this biography I can easily introduce many historical concepts about the war such as: the Civil War was fought between the confederate and union states, Lincoln was president during this time in history, and during this war (commonly referred to as “The War Between the States”) many young boys and men suffered and died. 
· Nettie's Trip South, by Ann Turner, is a story of a young girl’s first glimpse into the world of slavery.  Through deeper reading one can discover the analogy between the physical sickness Nettie experiences to how slavery was a vile sickness in our country.   
·  The soul stirring Moses: When Harriet Tubman led Her People to Freedom, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Kadir Nelson.  This biography not only provides an opportunity to teach about the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman’s role in freeing over 300 slaves, but also lends itself to explore the author’s craft of using different fonts to add meaning to a story.   
These books provide the perfect vehicle to explore Common Core themes such as how two or more texts address similar themes to build content knowledge and how characters and ideas change and develop over texts. Will it be necessary to make changes as I begin to implement the new Common Core and flipping? Of Course!  Will these changes mean I have to change everything I am currently doing?  Absolutely not!

If you are not already using picture books in your intermediate class, I challenge you to visit “The Everyone” section in your school media center.  Please let me know how your students respond.

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