Pr. George’s holds district-wide training for teachers on Common Core standards

Sandra Alberti, an educator providing training to Prince George’s County teachers on new academic standards, repeated the words of a fourth-grader who once described how his teachers taught him. He called it the “spraying and praying” method, she said.

Alberti said there are times when teachers “spray [students] with everything,” rather than focusing and allowing students to understand one concept before moving on to another.

“Think about depth of learning not spraying,” Alberti told the more than 9,000 teachers who gathered in high schools across the county for a one-day training on the Common Core and digital literacy, which was presented by Discovery Education, the county’s partner.

The training was the first effort by Prince George’s to require all teachers to participate in a system-wide, day-long session on Common Core. Dozens of states and the District have adopted the new, increasingly controversial Common Core standards, which advocates say are more rigorous and provide the framework for more uniform K-12 education nationwide.

Alberti, the director of state and district partnerships and professional development for New York-based Student Achievement Partner, told the teachers to focus on literacy and the push to have students read more non-fiction.

“If they want to learn more science, they need to learn reading,” she said. “We want students to be increasingly independent with increasingly complex text.”

Marsha James, a fifth-grade science teacher at Woodmore Elementary School, said ordinarily a select group of staff members, including the principal and department chairs from each school, attend the training for Common Core. Those who receive the training provide the information to their rest of the teachers in their school.

But on Monday, all of the teachers who work in the school system received firsthand knowledge about the new standards that are changing classroom instruction.

The main presentation took place at Northwestern High School, but teachers assembled at high schools across the county used as satellite locations.

“This is good because nobody can say, ‘I didn’t hear that. Nobody told me that,’ ’’ said James, who is the science chair at her school and conducted a workshop at Bowie High School for elementary school teachers.

Heather Kampmann, also a fifth-grade teacher at Heather Hills Elementary School, said she works in a specialty school and liked the idea of teachers from across the district coming together to hear about their various approaches to instruction.

The day for the teachers began like it does for many students across the county.

Some of the teachers-turned-students arrived late. Some talked in the back of the class, making it difficult for others to hear. Others were distracted by their cellphones.

“We can sometimes be the worst students,” said one teacher who spoke anonymously because she didn’t want to upset her colleagues.

District officials said the county has expanded its partnership with Discovery Education, which included the company to provide training to teachers about digital literacy. The partnership will also provide students in kindergarten to eighth grade access to digital textbooks next year.

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
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