The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were created as a way for states to better align instruction in a state and between states. The standards provide benchmarks for what students should know by the end of each grade level. So far, forty-five states have adopted the common core standards.
The new CCSS are very different than past state standards. Instead of focusing on fact recall and memorization, the new CCSS focus on inquiry, higher order thinking, and technology infused learning. While adopting the standards will be a lot of work, it is also an exciting opportunity to transform teaching and learning to prepare students for the 21st century.
Focus on Inquiry, Higher Order Thinking and 21st Century Skills
The new CCSS encourage educators to design lessons that foster curiosity, investigations and innovation. The new emphasis on inquiry and higher order thinking will require teachers to teach differently. Teachers will no longer be able to “teach to the test”. Instead, success will rely on their ability to engage students in thoughtful problem solving activities that helps students engage with CCSS in deep and meaningful ways. Instead of spending time creating presentations, teachers will need to spend more of their time facilitating powerful learning environments where learning is more personalized and differentiated. The CCSS also requires connections between subjects. For example, the CCSS require a greater emphasis on literacy across the curriculum.
Part of being prepared for the 21st century is being technologically literate. The CCSS incorporates technology as a tool to solve problems. In order to do the work required in the CCSS, students will need ubiquitous access to technology tools that can be used for problem-solving, communication, collaboration and sharing work with world-wide audiences.
Sending students to the computer lab once a week is not going to provide enough access for students to meet the CCSS. Instead, students are going to need access to real-time on-demand technology tools both in and out of the classroom to become independent users of technology that can apply powerful online tools to solve problems.
Teachers will also need access to real time technology tools that can assist them with assessing student progress and help them personalize and differentiate learning experiences.
Recommended Next Steps
Provide professional development for teachers and principals on unpacking the CCSS and inquiry models of instruction. Professional development models should incorporate lots of practical examples and model lessons. It should also allow time for teachers to collaborate and create lessons that incorporate the CCSS. The One-to-One institute provides workshops on both the CCSS and incorporating the Inquiry process in instruction.
Create Professional Learning Communities for grade level and department teams to meet regularly to work on adding CCSS to curriculum maps. A good website to see model CCSS lessons https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos.
Incorporate 1-to-1 Computing in your school to provide ubiquitious access to technology. The One-to-One Institute provides many resources including research, consulting and professional development to help your school or district effectively implement a 1-to-1 computing program.