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Friday, June 17, 2016

Common Core Intent and Practice

I cringed when educators got up to decry the Common Core Standards at a recent Union meeting because the curriculum materials they were told to teach were poor representations of what it means to teach the Common Core Standards well.

I believe that the best way to teach these standards is the following:
  1. Know the standards well. 
  2. Teach standard-by-standard
  3. Use engaging, meaningful learning experiences and units to teach the standards
  4. Assess regularly and reteach and refine as needed
  5. Work with your collegial group to grow and deepen the effort.
  6. See and use the standards in progressive ways so that students who are not ready for the grade-level standards begin with the foundation standards and those that have mastered the standards are able to move ahead.
Too many school systems believe that teachers need tight, "do as you're told," curriculum outlines instead of standards that can be embedded into rich, creative, student-centered learning experiences.

When good teaching is reduced to a cookbook of lessons, what's possible is diluted. When this happens teachers are demeaned and the learning superficial. Instead teachers, like scientists and artists, should be given standards and goals and then allowed to work their magic in meaningful, successful ways. Yet, new teachers need a good guide to follow and work from as they begin the profession.

The Common Core Standards are guiding principles that teachers are able to embed into rich, student-centered study. This creates an opportunity to teach well when used well.