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Creativity and Collaboration in Common Core: Creating Pathways to Student Success

Teachers and students at Enumclaw Middle School in southern King County are shaping new perspectives on Common Core Learning Standards. Watch math teacher Crystal Morey and her students engage in quality teaching and learning in the classroom.

Teachers and students at Enumclaw Middle School in southern King County are shaping new perspectives on Common Core Learning Standards. There's no lone flag-bearer leading the way, but rather a collaboration among teachers that's creating pathways between their classrooms.  That pathway involves a creative and student focused approach that encourages the students of Enumclaw Middle School to look for the connecting dots between their classrooms. 
Crystal Morey teaches mathematics, Vicki Timko teaches history, Rebekah Cheney teaches science, and SPED inclusion co teacher Doug VanHulse are all involved in their 6th grade profesisonal learning community (PLC). PLC’s often involve discussing teaching practices and student outcomes. But within the PLC teachers are also taking a larger view of what’s happening within a school from an objective standpoint while fostering an environment that is ripe for collaboration.    
Crystal Morey speaks with exuberance whenever she talks about math and she takes that exuberance with her to her PLC.  “We get a chance to talk every Friday. We have been trying to understand what everyone is doing right now and how it might tie in with our own classroom.” Morey looks for learning opportunities to connect Common Core objectives in new and previously unseen ways.  “When we talk, our [science teacher] does a really good job talking to me about what mathematical idea I’m starting to investigate with students. She backs me up by creating investigations of her own that strengthen the [Common Core] concepts we’re exploring.” 
Enumclaw teachers are intentionally breaking down the silos of subject teaching and showing their students how, just like in real life, all of their subjects are interrelated.  One of Ms. Morey’s math students has already begun to see those connections in his science classroom.  “I like how [math] translates into the real word.  In science, we're doing chemicals right now and the different mixtures we need.  We learn learn about that kind of stuff in math, so it really helps with other subjects.”  While the PLC process is still new for the teachers at Enumclaw Middle School, it’s through thoughtful collaboration and creativity that a holistic learning picture is emerging. 
Ms. Morey says, “Before, mathematics to my students were isolated sectors that never crossed. Today, [Common Core] math is getting at that these underlying principles and big ideas are all connected.”
Through the implicit and explicit connections that students make, a greater understanding of what they’re learning has begun to take root. These everyday classroom experiences and connections can be carried into the real world and post secondary education, whether that is community college, university, or technical career centers.  This is one of the many ways we can set our students up for success and the fantastic teachers at Enumclaw Middle School are doing just that.

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