If you’re a teacher in the US, you’ve surely heard of the Common Core Standards, the national academic standards for K-12 schools.
While there’s always a lot of mumbling and grumbling when it comes to anyone mandating what should be taught and how to get there, the Common Core Standards have been adopted by 45 of the states, so they’re not exactly something that can be easily ignored.
So how do all of the newer, innovative teaching methods and ideas mesh with having to meet certain standards?
The Common Core Standards, the national academic standards for K-12 schools in the United States, have now been adopted by 45 of the states. This makes them the pre-eminent source of what is being taught in the vast majority of public schools in America.
Much has been made in the blogosphere and across social media of the changes compared to former academic standards that were dictated at a state level. Reactions usually involve the added demand these standards place on text complexity and general rigor.
Since they’re only available for English-Language Arts and Math, it’s difficult to get a full picture for how they will impact public education, but some inferences can be made based on the set of ELA standards.
Edudemic’s focus is on the intersection of education and technology, and the Common Core certainly takes aim at in-depth student technology use. Four sample standards from elementary, middle, and high school English-Language Arts appear below.
The Common Core Standards
Note: The first letter represents the strand (or “area”—reading, writing, etc.), the following number the grade level, and the last number the standard number.
- W= Writing
- RI= Reading: Informational
- SL= Speaking and Listening
W.4.6. With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.
RI.8.7. Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.
SL.11-12.2. Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.
SL.11-12.5. Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
Publishing requires deep consideration of audience, purpose, structure, text features, and format. Whether text blogging via WordPress, photo blogging via tumblr or Instagram, or video blogging through Vimeo or YouTube, the demand for students to actually publish their writing is a significant leap.
Collaboration forces students to plan, adopt, adapt, rethink, and revise, all higher-level practices. Whether through apps, social media platforms, or in person, collaboration is not new for most K-12 learners in modern settings. But collaborating in pursuit of publishing and sharing thinking online is.
Evaluation is near the top of Bloom’s taxonomy for a reason, necessitating that students make critical judgment calls about how information is presented and shared. In many ways, this standard represents the most important—and perhaps least-understood—of the new Common Core ELA standards, asking learners not just to prefer Facebook to Twitter, but to deeply evaluate the pros and cons of each for different purposes. Powerful!
Integration is a matter of design, and produces considerable cognitive load on a learner. And in light of APIs, social media, and an array of smart mobile devices, is a kind of digital strategy.
When the standard says “digital media,” it might as well say social media as it continues “to add interest,” a side-effect of making something non-social, social. students,” but rather requires learners to make complex decisions about how, when, and why to use technology–something educators must do as well.
In the past, tech use—whether limited or gratuitous—has been more a matter of preference or available resources than a must-do requirement.