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LI classes filmed for Common Core training videos

Giuseppe Garofalo, 9, left, and Andon Sauerman, 9,

Giuseppe Garofalo, 9, left, and Andon Sauerman, 9, get help from their teacher, Christine MacQuarrie, during a common core lesson at JFK Intermediate School in Deer Park. (May 16, 2013) Photo Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

A camera crew trailed teacher Christine MacQuarrie's every move as she counted out squares on a yellow sheet of paper, showing the third-graders in her class a hands-on way to measure distances.

"I'm going to make you think about things," MacQuarrie, a veteran teacher at John F. Kennedy Intermediate School in Deer Park, said during the filming last month.

The model educator and her pupils were selected to appear in training videos for teachers statewide who are implementing the state's new Common Core standards, the more rigorous course of study adopted this year in schools across New York.

Deer Park was among three dozen districts in the state chosen for recording of the short training films, and its video probably will be available by the end of the summer, officials with the state Department of Education said.

Several videos from other schools already are posted at A similar training video has been shot at Park Avenue School in Westbury.

"It is very intimidating to look at Common Core standards and look at how to incorporate it into the work we are already doing," said Danielle Sheridan, Deer Park's district administrator for elementary curriculum and instruction. "So to look at a district that has had success incorporating the standards in both math and literacy helps other people feel motivated and that it is doable."

This is the first year that state test questions were based on Common Core academic standards recommended by the National Governors Association and adopted by 45 states, including New York. The academic standards encourage students to think more analytically.

Math classes now focus on concrete modeling and problem-solving. English classes focus on nonfiction. Some parents and teachers, including NYSUT -- New York State United Teachers, the largest teachers union -- have argued that the state's standards-based testing is being pushed too quickly.

MacQuarrie, a teacher for 16 years, helped rewrite the curriculum to include the instructional shift.

"It has forced me to change my thinking," she said, adding that students now are being asked about the reasoning behind mathematical equations. "Our kids are really excited about it."

Deer Park was selected for the video project after Kenneth Slentz, the state department's deputy commissioner of P-12 education, visited its classrooms in March. In addition to being featured on the website, the videos may be used in training seminars.

A video crew filmed two days' worth of lessons, including teacher interviews in four classes -- three English and one math -- at the grade 3-5 school. Education Department representatives helped teachers prepare the model lessons. Four videos, eight to 12 minutes in length, will be produced.

Lindsay Williams, 9, a student in MacQuarrie's class, wrote in her daily journal that she was excited to be part of the process.

"I think it really was an honor," she said.


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