Work of Art: NYC teachers show off student work aligned to new learning standards

Instead of drawings, paintings or sculptures, GothamSchools’ makeshift art gallery Monday night featured student essays about wolves, personal conflict, and classic fiction dotted the walls.

Middle and high school teachers from across the city brought the work to the Upper East Side to put on display during “The Art of Teaching and Learning to the Common Core,” an event we held with the support of Teaching Matters and Azure.

New York State is one of 45 states that has agreed to adopt the Common Core, new learning standards for math and English. Elementary and middle school state tests will be aligned to the new standards at the end of the school year, but New York City has asked teachers in all grades to begin working with the new standards.

The work on display last night was aligned to English language arts standards, but varied by task. In the video above, teachers who presented talk about the challenges and opportunities the new standards have brought to their classrooms.

Chris Fazio, a teacher at Queens Metropolitan High School, presented exemplary work of an assignment that asked students to write about a time they got in trouble. One objective of the task was to improve skills in organization and writing for detail.

Christina Roberts, a science teacher at Jill Chaifetz Transfer High School, used the subject of wolf species in Yellowstone National Park as a way to introduce students to her ecology unit. The students read related articles and then began the process of writing an essay about the importance of “keystone species” in ecosystems.

Other educators who presented student work were Ryan Fanning from Abraham Lincoln High School; Omolade Otulaja from M.S. 22 in the Bronx; Victoria Dedaj and Mark Anderson, both from Jonas Bronck Academy; Holly Obernauer from M.S. 131 in Manhattan.

The gallery exhibit was followed by a panel that included Anderson; the city Department of Education’s chief academic officer, Shael Polakow Suransky; and Sandra Stotsky, a critic of the Common Core.

We could not have made the evening happen without our two sponsors, Teaching Matters and Azure, the building that donated space for the event.

As an added bonus, Teaching Matters is inviting educators who attended our event to attend one of its workshops about the Common Core. Here’s what the organization has to say about its offer:

Teaching Matters is offering attendees from GothamSchools’ Nov. 26 event an opportunity to attend a workshop and receive a sample Common Core-aligned curriculum unit. Teaching Matters’ Writing Editorials unit includes a set of lessons, animations and organizers that guide teachers in effectively addressing argument writing. In addition, the unit is accompanied by a performance task posted on the NYC DOE’s Common Core Library.

Teaching Matters also welcomes teachers to attend a full-day institute on Dec. 12, entitled Text Dependent Questioning. At this session, teachers will discuss effective questioning strategies to support students’ access to complex texts. Teachers will also learn time-efficient techniques to link questions to formal and informal assessment. The strategies can be applied across content areas.

To receive a complimentary copy of the Writing Editorials Unit and/or to take part in the institute, please email Emily Durkin. To learn more about Teaching Matters’ work please visit.http://teachingmatters.org.