Common Core Standards: ideas, resources, tips, sample lessons.

Like it or not, Common Core Standards are going to have a big impact on American schools. There are many pros and cons about the adoption of National standards for education, but we believe that with the right attitude, and the right tools, students and teachers could truly benefit from this change. How? Unifying the goals of public schools can do a lot to make students feel like they’re part of the same country, and that they can have the same opportunities, regardless of their social background.

We can’t stress enough how important this could be for America. Common Standards alone, of course, are not going to do the job. It’s still the teachers, the principles, the policy makers, the developers, the students that have to make the tough job, but now they are united in the goals they have to achieve.

Are Common Standards perfect? Of course they’re not.

Nevertheless, they are important because they represent a bottom line that can keep us all focused. With different standards for every state, for publishers it’s been incredibly hard to produce top quality resources for education. Now we know in which direction we have to experiment, to research. And for sure, this is going to have a positive impact on the development of educational materials.

We’d like to share with you some resources we’re finding useful and some tips. We’ll be more than happy if you tell us what you think about CCSS and whatever advice you feel like sharing to keep pushing education forward.

RESOURCES

1) The Official Website of Common Core Standards 

We found the FAQ Section particularly useful. The website lacks examples, though, and it doesn’t help you understand what’s concretely going to change.

2) The Twelve Shifts

Curated by EngageNY.org, it’s a useful recap of the 12 main shifts required for teachers in terms of curricular materials and classroom instructions.

3) Sample lessons for Common Core Standards

- Wiki-teacher provides useful videos to understand how to concretely adjust your lesson plans.

- Learnzillion provides 2000+ high quality lessons all build by the Common Standards.

4) A Principal’s point of view

We found Principal Eric Sheringer‘s approach particularly wise. He writes about the importance of seeing Common Core Standards as a whole, instead of focusing on single parts of a standard. Principal Sheringer points out the importance of grasping the interconnectedness of CCSS and we couldn’t agree more with him.

5) FLAME!

If you’re interested in reading posts that are *extremely* critical towards Common Core Standards take a look here and here.

TIPS

As we said, Common Core Standards are not perfect. To get the most out of CCSS, if you live in one of the 45 States that have already adopted them, you need to add some “content meat” to your curricula. But does every teacher choose for him/herself what the students actually need to know? Not exactly. This is what CCSS’s website replies when questioned about content:

Do these standards incorporate both content and skills?

Yes.

In English language arts, the Common Core State Standards require certain critical content for all students, including:

 

  • Classic myths and stories from around the world;
  • America’s Founding Documents;
  • Foundational American literature: and
  • Shakespeare.

The remaining crucial decisions about what content should be taught are left to state and local determination. In addition to content coverage, the Common Core State Standards require that students systematically acquire knowledge in literature and other disciplines through reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

In Mathematics, the Common Core State Standards lay a solid foundation in:

  • whole numbers;
  • addition;
  • subtraction;
  • multiplication;
  • division:
  • fractions; and
  • decimals.

Taken together, these elements support a student’s ability to learn and apply more demanding math concepts and procedures. The middle school and high school standards call on students to practice applying mathematical ways of thinking to real world issues and challenges; they prepare students to think and reason mathematically.

SO YOU’D BETTER:

1) Prepare a curriculum that’s complete, but yet not too rigid.

Teachers, you’re on your way to becoming true DJ’s! Probably, teachers who will be able to mix classics and pop culture to engage students will shape the new wave of education. Before opening a Dead Poets Society circle in your school, though, read this post about the risk of giving too much space to self-expression by Robert Pondiscio.

2) Avoid the traps

Robert Pondiscio wrote a great post titled “Six Traps that Could Snare the Common Standards” and we found it very useful. (Hint: interconnectedness again).

3) Cooperate!

Share resources with other teachers, let technology help you and give feedback to app developers. We’re eager to receive feedback about our app, because we want it to help you as much as possible, and so are many other app developers.

Teachers can have a huge impact in the development of appropriate technologies to support education. Help us understand how to engage kids and how to help teachers see love for school and knowledge blossom in children’s hearts and minds. It’s not impossible, with your help! Today we have so much more experience, and so many tools to fight this battle, that we’re probably in the best position ever in the history of education. Email us at hello@timbuktu.me if you want to join our beta testers group.

Next: Pinterest for educators. How to leverage Pinterest to create and share great lesson plans.



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