Thursday, April 5, 2012

Common Core

The education world is becoming more focused on a new set of objectives called Common Core.  Some folks literally cringe upon hearing about it.  Any time something like this comes along I always try to take a step back and see how I can deal with it.  While I know I can’t satisfy everyone with my beliefs that common core is a good thing, I will explain some ways it is already embedded in schools.

For starters, one of the main goals of common core is for students to explain what they know rather than just provide us the same information we just provided them.  It’s no longer about, “Select one of the following choices: A, B, C, or D.”  This idea also provides greater opportunity for in-depth knowledge.  I think we know that when students feel comfortable talking about solutions they probably have a good understanding of it.

The part I like most about common core is the idea of proving mastery of content.  One of the beauties of technology is that it allows several different ways for a student demonstrate knowledge.  Additionally, there are always new and innovative programs being released that allow the student to show it in a different way.  As an eLearning coach this year I have seen some truly amazing projects completed on student netbooks.   To an extent, I expected those amazing projects to happen, but not to this degree.  Students are continually finding ways to “one up” the last project they completed.  That is very rewarding.

When I think about my career in the classroom as a Project Lead the Way pre-engineering instructor I thought about how common core was already embedded naturally.  No two products ever looked the same.  There were some advantages and disadvantages to each one.  However, when the students were done with the projects they not only felt rewarded by their accomplishments, but also understood the “why” behind it.  Furthermore, these differences in products often encouraged conversation to happen among students.  They asked each other why they chose to design a product in a particular manner.

In essence, I really believe the movement to common core standards is going to allow us to do much more.  We will be able to create environments in which students can converse with other students throughout the country on different projects to get ideas or develop a better understanding.  We are also going to be creating an environment in which students become the center of the classroom because it is going to be the student’s job to demonstrate mastery and provide rationales for decisions.  We will also continue to develop an environment in which students have high expectations and move more toward independence. 

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