November 17th, 2013
This year, more than any other, I’ve asked our UTES 5th graders to use the 21st Century Skills of creativity, collaboration, cooperation, and critical thinking; I’ve asked them to be innovators. They’ve written and acted out their own Peace Table Talks – rewriting history in the voices of civil rights leaders. They’ve worked in teams to simulate natural disaster relief in their Lego Teams, then design and build their scenarios, rescue innovations and MindStorm robots to solve problems people have faced all over the world. Now it’a my turn.
I’ve been asked to find a topic to research for my own Innovation Challenge. While this type of research project is not new at our little University of Texas Elementary demonstration school, the formal research documentation is new. Since I’ve been blogging for 3 years now, I decided this blog would be my forum. So here goes.
I’ve been attending and presenting at the National Council for Social Studies Annual Convention for 5 years now, so I’ve seen and heard much about the Common Core. As one of only 5 states in the U.S. that has not adopted the Common Core Standards, I’ve been asking myself why. My research questions are:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Common Core? What resources were used to develop them? What is covered and not covered by the Common Core?
- How are the 45 participating states using the Common Core? Do they still have their own state standards? Are their annual assessments based on the Common Core, or on their state standards?
- Why would Texas (and 4 other states) decide not to participate in the Common Core Standards? How do our Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) compare to the common core?
- How can I present at the national level and continue to make my content relevant to the Common Core?
My starting point for is the Common Core State Standards Initiative, http://www.corestandards.org, and the map of states implementing the Common Core Standards.
Next, I wondered what is not covered by the Common Core (as compared to our TEKS). In summary (http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI_ELA%20Standards.pdf), the Common Core is:
- common standards that students should know in order to be college and career ready. It is NOT how to teach this content.
- essential knowledge. It is NOT everything there is to know.
- a baseline of knowledge. It is NOT advanced knowledge and work for students needing an enriched curriculum. It’s a springboard to more advanced work.
- grade-specific standards. It is NOT an intervention program for students needing below (or above) level instruction.
- college and career readiness standards. It is NOT a full range of skills for English Language Learners (ELLs).
- ELA and content area literacy standards. It is NOT the full range of early literacy and reading readiness, especially in the early grades.
If you’d like to read Key Takeaways from the Draft K–12 Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts, http://www.corestandards.org/assets/KeyPointsELA.pdf, gives a brief summary of the rational behind the ELA Common Core.
Social Studies are not specifically addressed prior to grade 6, but they are integrated into the ELA standards grade 6-8, 9-10, and 11-12 (http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI_ELA%20Standards.pdf, p. 59-61).
As an ELA and social studies teacher, these ELA/SS standards include many of the strategies that I use to integrate my core subjects. These standards do not include the specific history, geography, economics, and cultural content, but they do give effective integration of ELA skills.
That’s it for my first Innovation Challenge research project. I haven’t answered all of my questions yet, but I feel like I now know enough to ask even better questions.
Peace out. ml