Higher Learning

FREDONIA – Several Chautauqua County teachers underwent lessons of their own in order to better help themselves in the instruction of their students.

On Saturday, the Chautauqua County Reading Council hosted a series of informative sessions focusing on different aspects of the Common Core Learning Standards during its fall literacy mini-conference held at SUNY Fredonia.

The CCRC, which has a membership of approximately 40 reading and English teachers, aims to promote literacy in Chautauqua County and support the development of literacy professionals through a number of conferences held throughout each academic year. According to Karen Kondrick, CCRC president, the fall literacy mini-conference was held to assuage some of the concerns faced by teachers who are adapting to new lesson plans.

“All the schools are now implementing the Common Core, and we just wanted to give teachers more resources to kind of support them,” Kondrick said. “A lot of times, we get overwhelmed every day by what’s going on in the classroom with all of the modules. So we wanted to give everybody a chance to come in and hear some more about the Common Core, and see how they could maybe do better in certain areas.”

Kondrick said the mini-conference was open to all teachers within Chautauqua County, and special emphasis was placed on involving social studies and science teachers in addition to their regular membership.

“We also wanted it to be not necessarily entirely for reading and English teachers,” she said. “We wanted some other people to be able to come in and hear about it because everybody is teaching literacy now. So, we wanted to kind of make that a resource for our science and social studies teachers. And we’re happy that we’ve got maybe five or six social studies teachers here today.”

The conference ran from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and was divided into separate segments with a different focus. The topics of the segments included: using the Charlotte Award, created by the New York State Reading Association for the purpose of encouraging students to become lifelong readers, to simulate interest in reading; enhancing the use of vocabulary in writing for the Common Core; reading and writing in the Common Core classroom; and the power and purpose of protocols.

Kondrick said this conference, the first CCRC literacy conference solely focused on the Common Core, was necessary because of the need of teachers statewide to adapt to the state-designed curriculum modules.

“The standards were adopted three years, and we’ve been supposed to be teaching them for three years,” she said. “The state has just now provided us with modules this year. Before, teachers were supposed to be writing them based on the Common Core, but a lot of teachers struggled. So this is about educating teachers not just on the modules, but reaching the standards that the modules are helping us to achieve.”