How’s the core of your curriculum? Pam Allyn, founder of LitWorld and LitLife, Despina Stylianou, Co-Director of Mathematics in the City, Carrie Amon, Principal of the Mamaroneck Avenue School and Peg Peoples, Director of the Institute for Writing & Thinking at Bard College shared their expertise on the Common Core this past Friday at the Schools That Can National Forum at the Schomburg Auditorium in Harlem. Panelists discussed the many woes and glows educators face with the new state standards.

Pam Allyn mentioned how the common core “belongs to” the students; they know what their needs are. The common core is something that can be felt by everyone, she added.

Carrie Amon stated that families should be very much included in helping students with the Common Core. At her school, the Mamaroneck Avenue School, parents are included in workshops in literacy and math in grades K – 5. “We felt like we were empowering them in a way.”

Despina Stylianou agreed in saying how we must find ways to include practicing and working with the standards in our communities. Instead of teaching to the test, Amon also believes that students should have more of a choice in what they like to read. “Passion Reading,” as she likes to call it, incorporates kids to choose what they want to read. Throughout the year, they conduct research, send out letters to experts, have a list of those experts, and answer questions based of their reading assignment.

“The traditional sense of teaching kids to memorize answers to questions has to be rethought,” Peg Peoples said. She believes that there must be more focus into teachers’ strengths instead of just on their problem areas. “Teachers need to be more empowered.”

Allyn stated that “independent reading is accountable independent reading,” that must be a part of the process in preparing students to succeed. “In order for our kids to do well on tests, we have to build their stamina; build those reading muscles.”

“This is a process just like everything in education,”she said. In this process, Allyn believes not enough time was given to really dissect and understand the standards. “Instead of giving people a chance to look into the standards, we kind of rushed into it.”