Sunday, April 29, 2012

First Impressions of The Common Core

I have been hearing about The Common Core for about a year or so now on Twitter and other mediums. Still, it wasn’t until a couple of months ago when I began working on a team, with five other educators throughout our district to write a K-5 Gifted Scope and Sequence, that I actually took the time to read through The Common Core.  As I read through the introduction, the key design consideration and the standards themselves I actually got very excited about the possibilities. Sure it is wonderful that most of the country will be working towards the same standards and that the overall goals are to prepare students to be college and career ready.  However, the more time I spent exploring them three main principles caught my attention: 1) that the standards suggest interdisciplinary approach, 2) that critical thinking is expected across all content areas and 3) at their core they were about learning strategies that students can be use while exploring any new content and/or problem.

 Also, while I was in my early exploration of the Common Core, I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs at FETC in January 2012 and viewing Alan November’s TEDxNYED Talk.  It was then that my brain really began to imagine what putting these standards into practice might look like. I was picturing classrooms involved with curriculum models like; Problem Based Learning, Inquiry Circles, Challenge Based Learning and other Constructivist Learning Models. Along with, school hallways and classroom websites full of meaningful and well developed student driven projects. 

Then a couple of weeks ago the buzz started about The Common Core a bit closer to home. Since this has happened I feel that what  has taken the lead focus in many conversations has related to the assessment and materials. These things are important and in no way am I saying that they should not be discussed. I am just not sure that these topics should be taking the lead in early conversations. It would be like gathering a group of college freshmen together who want to be Certified Public Accountants (CPA) to discuss their future. Then leading the conversation with the format of the CPA Exam and which specific software to buy so that your customers' IRS audits will be most effective.

Honestly, I truly think The Common Core could bring about some real exciting changes to education, but as educators we need to be involved. With that said, I would like to suggest every educators go to The Common Core website, download the standards, read, explore, discuss and think critically about them. Let’s approach these standards the same way we would want our students to approach our curriculum. We would expect them to start by reading the actual document, think, reflect, discuss with their peers and then build something from the knowledge gained. Seriously, here is our chance let's lead by example.

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