New school year, new ways to tackle the Common Core


HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Students at Herkimer Elementary School are turning a new page, starting up a new school year.

"There's always an adjustment. The first week is all about getting kids back into the routine of school. Usually kids are excited to be back after two months off," said Robert Miller, superintendent of Herkimer Schools.

Mr. Shepardson is already gearing up his sixth grade class to tackle the Common Core. Turns outs, you can learn a lot more from spaghetti and marshmallows than you may think.

"It's for kids to pull information out of one another and they're their best teachers. When they work together in teams they come up with great ideas," said Mark Shepardson who instructed teams to build a tower out of the food.

This teamwork will translate directly into a new reading program aimed at boosting stagnant English Language Arts scores on the 2014 state assessments.

"Some of the work is whole group instruction, but then a lot of it is focused on individual needs in small groups," said Shepardson.

Teachers will also use questions from the Common Core based tests in their lessons.

"Often times the students take the tests and then we get the scores back and we don't know what areas they were weak in or what areas they were strong in. With the release of test questions, it helps our teachers focus on differentiating instruction," said Herkimer Elementary Principal Renee Vogt.

But first, it's all about getting students back into the swing of things. Vogt advises plenty of sleep and a nightly routine.

"Read a book, take a shower, get your child's backpack ready the night before, pick out what your child is going to wear the next day. After the first three days students normally get back into the routine, but I would just encourage parents to start that nightly routine, get back into it," said Vogt.

The start of the school year also means buses are back on the roads. The superintendent is asking everyone to look out for the stop signs on buses and for kids crossing the road.

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