Saturday, April 13, 2013

How Common Core Will Propel Schools into the 21st Century

I have always believed that my job as an educator is to prepare my students to be successful in the world beyond high school.  To me, that meant developing critical thinkers, teaching career-transferable skills, and nurturing an appreciation for humanity in my students.

I believe that some of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects emphasize the same goals I envisioned for students when I first started teaching almost 20 years ago.  I also believe that technology is the gateway through which these goals will be met.

Here are some CCSS that recognizes the importance of technology in the classroom.

1.  "Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of three pages in a single sitting."

These standard could easily be met through the use of Google Docs.  To publish their writing, students could write blogs, create websites, and collaborate on wikis.

2.  "Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration."

Teach students how to Google Search properly and how to discern valid sources would be perfect here.

3.  "
Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a  standard format for citation."

Students need to learn how to use the Internet for more than just social networking and gaming.  Exposing them to quality journalism, online news and other similar media are crucial in their development as critical thinkers and well-informed, responsible citizens.  Learning how to properly give attribution to not just the written text found on the Internet, but also the plethora of images published online, is just as important.

4.  "Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest."

Teaching students how to use presentation software like Google Slides, Keynote, or PowerPoint not only meets Common Core Standards but is also an important career skill.  Here, they can build upon the skills gained in #3 above and incorporate that information into their presentations.

5.  "Consult general and specialized reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning or its part of speech."

Many online dictionaries like Merriam-Webster and can easily serve this purpose.  Chances are your students already use them so this standard is easy to meet.

6.  More informational text is expected to be taught across all disciplines now which "includes the subgenres of exposition, argument, and functional text in the form of personal essays, speeches, opinion pieces, essays about art or literature, biographies, memoirs, journalism, and historical, scientific, technical, or economic accounts (including digital sources) written for a broad audience."

What better way to prepare students for life in the real world than to expose them to more nonfiction writing, which includes the various media outlets that adults access on a regular basis like CNN, The Wall Street Journal, or National Geographic?

7.  "Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table)."

By practicing #6 above, students will naturally come across the various forms of infographics that are used in the world today.

8.  "Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic."

Need an excuse to use YouTube in the classroom?  Here it is.

9.  "Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas clearly and

Since my students blog with the world, this one is one of my favorites.  Blogging has truly motivated my students to explore their written creativity.  Read my post "For the Love of Blogging" to learn more.

I'm excited about what Common Core will bring.  I think the standards truly reflect what it means to be a 21st century learner.  Let me know what you think below.


  1. Hey, Alice. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on some of the positive aspects of the CCSS. I agree with you that there is an opportunity to engage students using technology without the pressure of covering the "mile wide, inch deep" curriculum. I'm a tech. coordinator and went to my first CCSS training a couple of weeks ago on Instructional Design. Funny, though, there was almost NO mention of technology. I was more than a little surprised. I appreciate how you took specific standards and came up with specific strategies/tools for meeting them in a way that would be meaningful and relevant for students. I'll pass your blog post along to some of the teachers in my district. I'll be spending some of my summer wrapping my head around the CCSS and figuring out how I can encourage teachers to see how using digital tools like Google Apps, the Haiku LMS, blogging, Weebly, Prezi, Soundcloud, Audacity, Popcorn Maker, etc. will help their students meet the standards and engage students as they create, collaborate, and share their learning. I'm hoping that the CCSS will press into some our teachers who resist using digital tools (beyond PPT) and motivate them to learn how to engage their students in some new ways, even if it's just starting to use Google Apps. and something like Collaborize Classroom and having some engaging conversations. Thanks again!

  2. Thanks for your support and for tweeting out my blog post on Twitter. Keep in touch. I look forward to networking and learning together.


  3. AnonymousJune 22, 2013

    Excellent resource. Thanks Alice.