The following is a sampling of Common Core inspired lessons and activities that have been successfully implemented by community school resource coordinators.  All of these activities were shared by participants in our Common Core Corps program.  As the program continues through the 2014-15 school year the list will grow.  We hope you are inspired to think about ways these activities can be adapted to support the learning and development of your students.

I Know Math Fun Station
At the July workshop of the Common Core Corps, Corps leader Eduardo Perez demonstrated how after school learning can encourage critical thinking and learning ownership, encourage collaboration, encourage real world application of math skills and concepts, and help students to internalize concepts when tasks and projects are the focus.

The highlight of Eduardo’s math presentation focused on the creation of a math station to enhance after school learning. Eduardo found that many students worked on homework but would finish early and beca me a distraction or disengaged. The solution was to create a math work station or structure where students could independently explore activities that would extend their learning. However, the student engagement began with the creation of the center itself. To create the math work station each participant randomly received a sheet of paper which contained images of parts of letters. In order to decipher the message, participants had to work together to arrange the individual sheets of papers to reveal the secret message. The message was: I KNOW MATH – FUN STATION. As participants we had to talk to one another and use problem solving skills and strategies in order to complete the task.

Perez also talked about a creative way to encourage real world application of math concepts and skills through the use of a classroom store. Students earn tickets with various numerical values. Those tickets can be redeemed at the classroom store. He shared how students must add, subtract, and budget in order to actually receive items from the store’s stock.

THINK BIG - Using Poetry to Promote Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity

When it comes to academic learning “Think Big” is much more than a catch phrase.  Thinking big means encouraging students to collaborate, communicate, and create on a higher level.

At the September 12, 2014 Common Core Corps workshop Amy La Duke presented “Encouraging High School Students to Think Big” focusing on how poetry and a collaborative spirit can produce big ideas with big results.  La Duke is the Community Schools Manager at Y.O.U. in Evanston and a former Resource Coordinator at Roosevelt High School in Chicago.

La Duke created a poetry team as an after school program at Roosevelt HS to compete in Louder Than a Bomb (LTAB) annual youth poetry festival, which has been around since 2001.   But the formation of the team created more than poetry, the team meetings became a safe space (and a brave space) to express feelings and explore big ideas. La Duke found out that students who lacked motivation in the regular classroom were surprisingly motivated to write as a part of the poetry team.  Students' confidence increased as did their abilities to communicate and collaborate with each other.

The LTAB initiative impacted more than just the students directly involved with the team.  Enthusiasm for the program led to a school wide poem challenge.  All students were asked to contribute one line of poetry about the school’s annual theme: peace.  Team members modeled and encouraged their peers to write.  Presentations were made during advisory and English classes. In the end, over 1,000 lines of poetry were collected.  Poetry club members created a way to select the most appropriate lines of verse and compiled the entries into a cohesive school poem - which was then turned into a student art installation on the school walls.

Students benefitted academically, as well.  Collaborative poetry projects such as this one reinforce the Common Core State Standards.  Students gained real-world practice in analyzing the structure of texts and determining how lines of poetry relate to each other and to the piece as a whole.  They also gained a better understanding about how word choice shapes meaning and tone which are two items the new standards recommend.

La Duke’s poetry team at Roosevelt not only opened the microphones to free flowing verse, it opened young minds to look beyond their current environments and THINK BIG.

Tools for replicating these ideas at your school
School Wide Poem Activity
Draw a Proverb Activity
Draw a Quote Activity

More Common Core resources can be found here .
This program is made possible by

Federation for Community Schools • 125 S. Wacker Drive • 14th Floor • Chicago • IL 60606 • 312.424.6814