Monday, February 10, 2014

Thoughts on tools for implementing CCSS

"Best practices" is an educational buzz phrase I've heard tossed around  for many years. It makes sense. Take what's working, concentrate your efforts there, and enjoy seeing students grow and flourish.  But it seems like next best curriculum materials are initially clamored over, with professional development days tossed together highlighting potential sure fire results and then as quickly as these fixes emerge they sink back into abysm as another curriculum contender surfaces and the cycle repeats.

During the sixteen years I've been teaching, no doubt, there has been some strong curriculum adopted. Unfortunately such curriculum loses support when a trendy new fix emerges.  With all  the hype and controversy surrounding the new common core state standards, I think techniques and tools are going to be the ticket to disseminating growing and dynamic content with students.  It seems like teachers and students will be able to wade through vast arrays of information together while collaborating and concluding together what is most important and needs to be delved into further for deeper understanding.

The idea of students driven to guide their own learning is utopian for sure.  Striking a balance between developing foundational skills that need to be explicitly taught while helping students figure out which way to adjust the rudder, pointing themselves on course for their future, seems like it may be the challenge of really getting the CCSS widely accepted, off the ground and running. 

With solid tools and techniques in place for sharing content and curriculum adapting to the new CCSS may seem less daunting.  As I've been working with a 5th grade student I've seen the value of using an  app like to quickly create lessons that are both personalized and high interest along side lessons that are necessary for building foundational skills. 

My high school English teacher, Mr. Rex, would put a different quote on the blackboard everyday to discuss (yes...I said blackboard...the kind with chalk, not and this is one that always stuck with me:  “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” 
It speaks to the need for a foundation and what you can build on it once it's there.

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