Thursday, May 29, 2014

Common Core: Please Read The Standards

Last night I was invited to take part in a panel on the Common Core State Standards for interested folks in Lake County. The inimitable Michelle Wood, Lake County Superintendent, organized the event which was attended by about 30 people. Our panel included Dennis Parman, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, a couple of administrators, a couple of elementary teachers, a math expert, and a policymaker in addition to me.

The Common Core State Standards are attacked from the left and the right for different reasons, but notice how I phrase that: left and right. This education initiative has become politicized and as such, has suffered greatly and needlessly. It has become a pawn in political gaming even though most teachers know this much about the standards:
  • they are a set of skills; 
  • they are outcomes, not curriculum; 
  • they are high-level and encourage high-level thinking and communication; 
  • they are helping teachers strengthen their instructional practice; 
  • they provide consistency across states and across the state.
Another important feature, in my opinion, is the standards' integration with Indian Education for All (IEFA), our state's multicultural initiative. One of our missions as teachers is to teach students to think critically and independently; this is supported both by the Standards and by IEFA, which is often best addressed through the lens of multiple perspectives. In February I wrote this guest column for the Billings Gazette that explores this idea and the Montana Office of Public Instruction included my ideas in the following video for their series on the Common Core.

Here's a short video I put together for the #InMyClassroom campaign, showing Common Core in real classrooms across the nation. In it I demonstrate how I help students understand the Standards and apply them to their classroom work. 
Common misconceptions about the Common Core include the idea that they complicate teaching and learning, that they are a federal mandate, and that they remove local control from schools. All of these are false. 

At last night's symposium, one of the emerging themes was that concerned individuals ought to read the Common Core Standards for themselves. I've linked here to the Montana Common Core Standards for English Language Arts (choose the grade level that interests you). If individuals still have questions, they should talk to their schools' teachers and administrators. At my school you might even be able to talk to some students about them. The main point here is that people learn for themselves rather than swallowing what various media outlets or their favorite politician has to say about the Standards.

As a side note, one of the best parts of being on The Warrior Trail is the travel. Here is a picture I snapped from the car on the way home last night. 

Ninepipes. Flathead Reservation. Home.

1 comment:

  1. Reading your blog from where I am in SoDak at the moment. Good stuff as always Dr. B