A Recipe for Success


Every two weeks we receive a vegetable box from our community-supported agriculture, or CSA. If you are not familiar with this concept, a cooperative farm offers “shares” that others can purchase to receive locally grown food that they raise. People receive what is in season. This week, it was tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, onions, parsley, leeks, and even mushrooms! The fun part is finding recipes that incorporate these ingredients for healthy meals for our family.

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I share this because as we peered into our box this evening, it reminded me of a tweet I sent out last Friday. It received quite a bit of attention, in terms of retweets and favorites.

Rick Wormeli (@rickwormeli2) addressed our entire professional staff last Friday regarding differentiated assessment and grading. The analogy he used, regarding standards as ingredients, is a great way to think about how to integrate the Common Core into our instruction. I believe this was the intended spirit of the developers of the #CCSS. They did not want to dictate curriculum, but rather provide benchmarks for educators as we prepare for coherent and appropriate instruction.

What are your thoughts? How do you make sense of the Common Core State Standards and put them in perspective? Please share in the comments.

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District (http://mineralpointschools.org/). Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD (www.ascd.org) and Lead Literacy (www.leadliteracy.com).

7 thoughts on “A Recipe for Success”

  1. We must plan and teach the bigger themes, and create new metaphors and paradigms across all subjects in our classrooms. I believe that this was the intent of common core: for all of us to be chefs who get to pick and choose the healthiest and most appropriate selection from our local CSA garden to cook with: however, I’m a radical and I strive to get fresh eggs and raw milk from local farms. I really like Common Core; it has required me to be reflective like I am in my garden, asking questions: “What worked last growing season? What do I think would be good for our family this spring? What veggies from our CSA garden supplement my own?” It requires reflection and action on my part.


  2. Super insight, Matt. I agree heartily. These standards are helping us all grow kids who demonstrate a robust literacy and learning to interface with them and our curricula is always an engaging and enjoyable chef’s plan. (Okay, well, not always enjoyable).


  3. Hello Matt,

    I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks now and appreciate the readings and insight you’ve given on rethinking literacy in the classroom. I am an informal educator, teaching S.T.E.M environmental education to 10 Title I schools in the South Baltimore area. I’ve been following your blog because of the push in the school system, and by the funders of our organization, to incorporate “evolved” literacy into our lessons.

    Your last post caught my eye because Baltimore City has seemingly taken what was supposed to be a national set of guidelines that was supposed to allow for autonomy in teachers’ instruction, and turned it into a series of modules and units that are completely disconnected and don’t serve to form a deeper, more meaningful understanding of what students are supposed to be learning.

    I’ve been trying to restructure our current environmental literacy program into a tool that would help inspire students to take leadership in their community and from a global perspective. Incorporating technology into this program is very important to me, but I have nothing to compare the way I assess what I’m doing to anything being done in the school system, so I’m unclear of how effective the program actually is. I’ve been able to get students’ hands on IPads, GPS devices, and they have been creating PSAs with Flip cameras, but I’ve run into so many roadblocks in terms of internet accessibility in schools, permission to film students, getting teachers to use the information we’ve given them outside of our time in their classes, etc. It seems like every avenue I take to become more progressive in my instruction is hindered by the system.

    I was wondering if you’ve ever had any experience with the Virtual Learning Magnets. I’ve been reading a book Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World by Heidi Hayes Jacobs, and I was very interested in using something like this in exposing students to a more expansive mode of learning in environmental education. From what I’ve read about it, it seems like there was some funding from NASA to implement such a program, but I haven’t found any other evidence of successful programs since that time. Do you (or anyone else) have any insight on this?


  4. A great analogy, Matt! I’m regularly concerned that the popular media implies that the Common Core dictates more control over the day-to-day teaching in our classrooms than is true. Your short and sweet perspective helps correct that misunderstanding.

    And as a former-CSA consumer who failed many times to cook the produce well, I’m also aware of how much talent, interest, context, and experience relate to the ability to cook well (and, to continue your analogy, to teach well).


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