Albuquerque Project: Behind the Scenes

These resources offer a behind-the-scenes look at our Common Core in Albuquerque, New Mexico project.

The video clips and journal entries below highlight the process that the teachers engaged in with Dr. Diane August to become familiar with the standards and examine what the standards will mean for English language learners (ELLs).

Video: Behind-the-Scenes in Albuquerque

Creating the Lesson Plans

Behind the Scenes

Diane August: Working with Albuquerque Teachers

Ann Bradley: The AFT Innovation Fund's Work on Common Core and ELLs


Journal entries

For more background on the lesson planning process, take a look at the following journal entries from the Albuquerque teachers, as well as their journal entries on planning and professional development:

Elizabeth Dukart: The lesson planning process

Thinking back on the process of developing our lessons, my first reaction is surprisingly a sense of optimism for the future. Although there are many ideas and concepts which have been important, having the opportunity to work with true professionals who so clearly care and give so much has helped me to revitalize my own flagging enthusiasm and teaching. In this time of standardization and mandated curricula, this has been a rare experience in creativity and the art of teaching.

However, this has truly been a process. I started with very limited knowledge about the new Common Core Standards we would be working with, and even an incomplete picture of the project I was taking on. Initially the meetings were very overwhelming and largely, I passively observed. I think that the combination of beginning the process late and the open nature of the project made it especially challenging.

With time, the project began to take shape in my mind, and our working team began to come together. While I began the process feeling behind, after several weeks of review and delving into the content it was amusing to find our group chomping at the bit to begin creating our lesson plans ahead of the timeline.

One of my own challenges during this process was the freedom we were given to create lessons. Often teacher are given a very scripted curriculum to follow, and while I have been given wonderful freedom during my teaching experiences, the possibilities we were given were so much larger.

Ali Nava: Scripting the lessons

Scripting the lessons for that actual read-aloud of the book was an intense process that made me examine my own teaching. I know I will never pick up a piece of literature without taking the information discussed throughout this process and implementing that with all of my students. I have learned an immense amount of knowledge on what not only works for ELL students, but for ALL students! This will assist me in the delivery of all curricular materials.

After meeting with Dr. August, I now have a better understanding of my role within this cadre. My initial concerns were that as teachers we were having to script out every minor aspect of a lesson. My fear was that this would be insulting to teachers. I felt that a portion of our lesson should be left up to the creativity of the teacher, and that we were providing teachers with a solid frame of what the lesson should be.

I learned from Diane that the reason for all of the scripting is that we were developing a "model" lesson. The directions throughout the sequence needed to be in explicit detail so that teachers could have an ideal example of what a great lesson for students would look like.

I am thankful that I had the opportunity to work with Diane. Though there were many times throughout our meeting that became heated and often times frustrating, everyone brought valid arguments to the table. This is what learning is. I am glad that our state has moved toward the direction of national standards. I believe that the CCSS will provide ELLs with numerous educational opportunities in more in-depth, and project-based learning. That is what ALL kids deserve. Being an English Language Learner is not a deficit!! It is an asset!

Dorian Shiver: The "Cinderella" lesson plan

We decided on Cinderella as our anchor book, which never would have occurred to me when we began — it seems like such a played out story. But we realized that it's perfect for this lesson because there are so many versions of it from many different cultures. We gave ourselves homework, to each select a different version, find a copy, and make a list of all the vocabulary. I picked Yeh-Shen, and I really enjoyed taking the time to read the story several times, and pull the vocabulary.

However, I increasingly feel as though there are not enough hours in the day. I feel like this work is so important and we have such a crucial opportunity to help teachers and influence the way these standards are implemented — I don't want the quality of the work to be compromised because it's being done by teachers who are already stretched quite thin. I don't really know what the solution is though — I certainly wouldn't want to put my teaching on hold; being in the classroom with the kids is really essential to staying motivated in this line of work.

I'm also starting to try and look ahead, beyond the scope of simply lesson planning. I'm curious about what will come next and what the next phase of our work will look like. I am a revolutionary at heart, and I want us to start taking some kind of action…I have no idea what that should consist of or look like, but I do feel a little antsy. It's not overwhelming me though, and I do feel really good about how comfortable I am doing this work as merely a second-year teacher.