5 Things to Know about Common Core Standards

Category: Ideas

The Common Core State Standards, adopted by 45 states, are a hot topic and a very high priority in curriculum development. Let's take a look at five qualities of Common Core State Standards, perfect for the 21st Century educator.

Ties to technology integration

As Common Core State Standards started to be implemented, teachers with technology-rich lessons were concerned. Would Common Core put technology on the back burner? Thankfully, the answer is no. Not only do specific standards call for the use of technology, but many are facilitated through the creative use of technology. For example, standard W.F.6 states: "With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others." On first glance, this standard may appear to limit students to simply typing a document. However, publishing and collaborating is actually very open-ended and opens up amazing opportunities with blogging and social media. In fact, online collaborative environments facilitate numerous standards such as: "SL.5.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions. Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, sound) and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes."

Perfect for project-based learning

Common Core State Standards are replete with standards attainable through project-based learning. In fact, the standards, Research to Build and Present Knowledge and Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas, cultivate fundamental ideas in project-based learning. For example, one standard which follows project-based learning states, "Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions for further research and investigation." The connections don't stop there; almost every standard can be met and surpassed through the use of project-based learning. 

Promotes classroom creativity

All educators want to push their students to the pinnacle of Bloom's Taxonomy – creating. Common Core State Standards certainly help promote this goal. As stated earlier, Common Core is perfect for project-based learning, which has an ultimate objective of students creating their own learning. Further, the standards list numerous curricular skills but do not dictate the manner in which to achieve the skills. Let's look at the somewhat mundane cluster taken from the Conventions of Standard English standard, "Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing." Instead of a simple writing assignment, engage your students with a digital storytelling project using web 2.0 tools and include this standard in your assessments. You can definitely encourage creativity and meet the standards at the same time.

Inspires cross-curricular activities

Common Core standards are fundamentally cross-curricular. Reading and writing standards, such as, "Write opinion pieces on topics or texts," can easily be addressed throughout the curriculum. A creative social studies project on civil rights including research, collaboration and presentations reaches across the curriculum silos and includes ELA, history and even math (e.g. Figure the economic impact of women in the workforce.). A project such as this meets Common Core Standards all along the way.

Includes history, social studies and science

Common Core standards do not have separate standards for history, social studies and science. So, on first glance it appears these subjects were left out. Actually, the Common Core standards are still in development. For example, a new book, A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas was recently published and will serve as a guide to Common Core science standards. Meanwhile, the current ELA standards include Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. While not including standards specific to each area, these standards do address common skills such as researching, drawing conclusions and presenting evidence.