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Amy Callahan

June 13, 2009

Core Values Reflection on the Connecticut Common Core of


Section I, “Composing, Responding, and Interpreting,” of the

English Language Arts specific area of the Connecticut Common Core
of Teaching reads: English language arts teachers use their knowledge
of the ways people use understandings through reading and writing,
speaking and listening, viewing and acting, when they design
instruction, interpret student performance and evaluate their teaching
to help students reach understandings. (CSDE, 1999, p. 17)

I chose this section to examine because of the use of the word

“understandings” throughout it. As teachers we have to be careful how
we use the term “understand” as an evaluative assessment as alone it
is broad and vague. This section really addresses two different ideas.
First, the section assumes that teachers apply their knowledge of ways
students exemplify their understandings through various measures
when designing objectives and lesson plans. Additionally, part of
Section I also addresses the idea of students reaching their full
understandings. But this is where we need further definition of
“understandings.” Wiggins and McTighe (2005) assert, “Understanding
is about transfer, in other words. To be truly able requires the ability to
transfer what we have learned to new and sometimes confusing
settings” (p. 40). So, the Core implies what knowledge teachers should
be using in their curriculum design but as teachers how do we really
measure our students’ true understandings or measure transfers of

As teachers design and implement lesson plans and activities

based on goals and objectives, it is also important to acknowledge that
students may learn in different ways and may exemplify
“understanding” in different ways as well. The concept of
Differentiated Instruction can help guide teachers to adjust activities to
various types of learners and/or culture differentials. As a pre-service
high school English teacher, I feel that true understanding may begin
to be measured in various forms. As the Section I standard suggests, I,
as the teacher, am responsible to rely on my background and
knowledge to effectively assess my students’ understandings. This
assessment can happen informally through class discussions and group
work as well as formally through interpretation questions on tests and
paper assignments that ask students to analyze, explore, and transfer
their ideas in sometimes frightening but enlightening ways.

In conclusion, as teachers in Connecticut, we must continually

look back at the Connecticut Common Core of Teaching and assess our
own development. Only through trial and error can we really determine
the best ways to teach and evaluate. We will always be learning with
our students.


McTighe, Wiggins (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA:

ASCD Books.