Common Core State Standards are bringing changes for teachers at all levels.

The standards emphasize the role of all teachers in the development of students’ literacy skills, and in math, focus will shift to the application of real-world skills — rather than passing a test. The common core also recognizes the growing importance of technology in education and the expectation that students can access information anytime. 

Educators are searching for answers to three questions:

  • What are the CC State Standards?
  • How will they change what I do?
  • Why are they here? 

Some of the details are frustratingly elusive as various groups — publishers, school districts, states, and universities — jockey for positions in the first post-NCLB initiative. Here’s what we know that can fit into a blog: 

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) represent the most significant, widespread education reform that has ever occurred in American public schools. Currently, 45 states and three territories have adopted the standards and plan to assess students’ progress on them during the 2014-2015 school year. With these standards, all learning is linked to 10 Career and College Readiness Standards, what students need to know and be able to do in order to thrive at the college level and in the career world. It’s the first time that the country has ever had such a clear picture of the kinds of skills students should have when they leave high school. It’s a big deal.

The CC standards are organized in an intoxicatingly simple, linear fashion that acknowledges that the work of a first grade teacher contributes to the growth of a tenth grade student. This connectedness between grade levels is a welcome departure from some previous state standards that jumped from topic to topic, addressing a particular skill one year, dropping it the next, and returning to it later on or not at all.

The standards’ organization will help teachers focus on the big picture and see how their work with students is connected to a child’s academic past and future. No CCSS strand can be mastered in one year.

How Will They Change What Teachers Do?

CCSS will have varying degrees of influence for secondary teachers. For the areas of English language arts and mathematics, CCSS will replace current state standards. They will unify goals and expectations for students across the country as well as align assessments. For history, science, and technical subjects, the standards offer 10 areas of key literacy skills to overlay onto already existing state content standards. Because the content and assessments will be the same from state to state, a unified system of measure can be used to compare student growth from one part of the country to another. And states will be able to compete for Federal money, but that’s another topic. 

The standards address the fact that literacy demands in college, the workplace, and life in general are getting higher, not lower, and to thrive in an information-rich, digital global age, we need a highly literate population.

For the authors of CCSS, this translates to teachers in all disciplines sharing responsibility for students’ literacy development. While English teachers might be relieved to know they will not have to carry the responsibility of literacy instruction alone, CCSS also acknowledges that the informational texts used in various subjects are complex and worthy of study. It makes sense that the best person to teach specific areas of literacy is the expert teacher of the field: scientists, historians, and other scholars. The authors believe that these skills are essential to the success of students in these disciplines.

It doesn’t mean that a science teacher is going to drop teaching the concept of velocity and start teaching essay writing, but it does mean that writing in science, a common occurrence among scientists, will benefit young scholars. 

The CCSS will help solidify students’ progression to higher-level math, through real-world applications and conceptual understanding, not just procedural knowledge. It’s through concepts that students will be able to go beyond passing the weekly math test and build to a sophisticated understanding of the language of math; hence taking students to the level of achievement needed in fast tech times.

The Technology Piece

The standards also take into account our rapidly changing information age, acknowledging that entirely new genres of reading and writing could develop at any time (Twitter, Facebook updates, and multi-author blogs did not exist in 1997 when many current state standards were in development). To help address the demands of technology, the CCSS incorporates research and media skills into every subject. It’s a spot-on relevant move in an age when anyone can look up the answer to anything on the Internet.

No longer do books, or adults, hold all of the information. Students have to be able to navigate through, independently, a vast amount of information, learn and mimic new genres, and communicate with others near and far. It’s with this in mind that the CCSS focuses on key skills and concepts that will serve students for a lifetime in our ever-changing world.

Continue reading

thyroid and memory