This week's blog prompt is about common core standards. Common core standards are national level learning standards that will soon be implemented in most states across the country. These standards will be implemented in grades K-12 in most all major subjects: math, English, social science and science. Before this common core initiative, learning standards were set independently by each state. In some cases, states copied the standards of other states; however, there was no mandate to do so. Each state could by choice devise learning standard different for all other states.
Elementary School CCS: http://youtu.be/1IPxt794-yU
Middle School CCS: http://youtu.be/SC4OG11zOC8
High School CCS: http://youtu.be/Ym-VHwbpAQM
My wife (a 3rd grade teacher) and I watched all three videos and were impressed. First, establishing nation-wide learning standards is a good idea. The essentials for students to know does not really vary from state to state; math, science and English, among other subjects, remain the same regardless what state a students live in. The only thing that many vary between states that I can think of is state history, of course this varies state to state. Moreover, the common core standards emphasize learning based on evidence rather than students taking the information presented by the teacher as gospel. The strategy empowers students to learn how retrieve information and how to judge its reliability, rather than waiting for facts to be presented to them. Moreover, students learn to judge, in most cases, how reliable this information is and whether it will support any conclusions.
Additionally, common core will emphasize quality over quantity. Student learning will focus on doing a few core concepts well and dropping some material traditionally covered in order to make this possible. At first, this may seem like a mistake. Students will not be exposed to as varied many concepts, so therefore will learn less. This is true to some respect; however, common core standards emphasize strategies than enable students to gather, judge and learn information even when they are not with the teacher. In limited time of grade school it really is not possible to learn everything well, but it possible to teach something well and give students the ability to learn more in the future. This makes sense. Students build a strong foundation on which all further learning beyond public school will rest firmly. Today's face-paced technological society requires lifetime learning. Of course, lifetime learning does not upon high school graduation. Common core will give student the power to continue a lifetime of learning.
I reviewed the California’s Common Core Content Standards for English Language Arts &
Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects at the California Department of Education at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cc/. As described above, these standards for science demand students learn to base their learning based upon evidence. This is precisely the right perspective for science learning. Every scientific conclusion, all of science, is based upon evidence. Without strong supporting evidence no conclusion in science can be made. All science rests upon the foundation of evidence. This is clearly the right way to teach science.
It seems most of the teachers in the three videos were hesitant to can their methods for the latest flavor of the week learning tactic. However, it appears the teachers once comfortable with the new common core standards really felt they were an improvement. I am all for these changes and so is my wife, a teacher of 10 years.