Keeping up with the Common Core Standards
My school district has just adopted the Common Core Standards, does this mean I have to change my entire curriculum? What can I do differently to help my students achieve a higher level of success and still meet the Common Core standards?
The Common Core Standards have been created for the purpose of streamlining education across the nation. It is not mandatory for any state to adopt but as of 2013, 45 states have chosen to adopt the standards with implementation scheduled for the 2014-2015 school year. If your school district has adopted the Common Core Standards, it is because your state representatives made the decision.
Here is a link to the website that answers FAQs about Common Core and provides the actual standards: http://www.corestandards.org.
Most likely, teachers will need to change their math and language arts curriculum to meet the high expectations set by the new standards. However, teachers are not told how to deliver the instruction – this is still their choice. The value that teachers bring to the classroom is their own craft and expertise in understanding how their students learn best. The teachers, administrators and business leaders who developed the Common Core standards believe our students would be better prepared for their future when given high standards and highly qualified teachers to help them reach their fullest potential.
Before the Common Core, students across the country were held to different standards, depending on the state. For example, 4th grade students in California were held to different expectations then the same age groups of students in Florida, or Montana or Pennsylvania. The trouble arose when students who were of age to attend college or join the work force, were not ready. Our nation’s education system had been failing our students for sometime, stuck in a time when the expectations for our students were more specific to a farming/manufacturing age, not less difficult but different and more importantly, irrelevant. An incredible amount of research was done to create the Common Core so all of our students will have more choices in their lives and of course be prepared for whatever path they choose. So now the hope is for our upcoming farmers and manufacturers to gain the knowledge they need to think creatively and solve the complex issues of their new high-tech futures. Of course the Common Core addresses any and all new career opportunities available to the variety of students that will become the future United States.
Since the standards have changed for 45 states, it would be impossible to list how each standard will change according to the previous standard. What we can do is list a few of the standards, explain how the expectations are to be measured and offer some ideas on delivering a great lesson.
One of the most significant changes in the standards across the nation is the requirement to make the content we teach relevant to our students. Lots of new books and educational websites offer ideas on how to incorporate real-life experiences in our Math and Language Arts curriculum. Much of this information also blends the several courses together. For example, nutritional information is relevant information. Conducting research and reading about the nutritional content of certain foods can lead to figuring out the percentage of each nutrient or calculating the proper amounts an average person needs to stay healthy. The Math and Language Arts, Science blending potential for a subject like Nutrition are endless.
Language Arts can be blended with any other subject – think about it, you may consider yourself a Science, Social Studies or Math teacher, but don’t we all teach reading as well? Yes, you are all responsible for your students’ comprehension of the complex problems they are required to solve. To solve those problems a bit of reading must occur. Especially mathematical word problems! (I’ve had my own students understand how to solve a problem, but got the answer wrong because they didn’t understand what was being asked). It is the same when you are teaching a specific skill. Maybe you will teach the life-skill of collecting and organizing pertinent data, but you will teach that skill using Science content
Here are a few samples of how you might create relevant, blended lessons using standards taken from the Common Core State Standards:
1st Grade Standards:
Represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction.
CCSS.Math.Content.1.OA.A.1 Use addition and subtraction within 20 to solve word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions, e.g., by using objects, drawings, and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.
CCSS.Math.Content.1.OA.A.2 Solve word problems that call for addition of three whole numbers whose sum is less than or equal to 20, e.g., by using objects, drawings, and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.
Ist Grade Activity to Address These Standards
Example word problem: Cupcake Caper! Mom made 20 cupcakes for the fair on Saturday and put them on the cake plate. When we went to be that night, all 20 cupcakes were on the plate. When we woke up in the morning only 3 were on the plate! How many cupcakes went missing? Where did they go?
Here are some hints for young detectives to solve the mystery:
- Our dog, Fido doesn’t feel so well this morning.
- There is fresh dirt piled in a mound in the backyard.
- Dad has icing on his pajamas.
Provide a picture of 20 cupcakes for each student or table group (your preference). Working in small table groups, have your students circle 3 cupcakes to show that they are still there. Guide your students into finding the number of how many went missing. Once they have the number 17, have them use your ideas or create their own ideas of what happened to each of the missing cupcakes. Encourage each group to come up with several different ways of getting to 17, once they are there, they will still need to add the 3 cupcakes to equal 20. Each group can share their ideas on how they “found” the missing cupcakes.
* You can incorporate cross-curricular content by change cupcakes to Egyptian artifacts, insects, famous people, etc. then altering the mystery.
5th Grade Standards:
Graph points on the coordinate plane to solve real-world and mathematical problems
CCSS.Math.Content.5.G.A.1 Use a pair of perpendicular number lines, called axes, to define a coordinate system, with the intersection of the lines (the origin) arranged to coincide with the 0 on each line and a given point in the plane located by using an ordered pair of numbers, called its coordinates. Understand that the first number indicates how far to travel from the origin in the direction of one axis, and the second number indicates how far to travel in the direction of the second axis, with the convention that the names of the two axes and the coordinates correspond (e.g., x-axis and x-coordinate, y-axis and y-coordinate).
CCSS.Math.Content.5.G.A.2 Represent real world and mathematical problems by graphing points in the first quadrant of the coordinate plane, and interpret coordinate values of points in the context of the situation.
5th Grade Activity to Address These Standards
Design a Rehabilitation Zoo:
Provide your students with graph paper. Have your students draw the coordinate plane with the 4 quadrants (x and y axis) and up to 10 (or more points). Explain they are to design a Rehabilitation Zoo with paddocks for each animal. They are to provide clear directions for the “zoo” keeper (the teacher) to place the proper food, in the proper paddock. Provide a sample:
Place meat in the lions paddock Q1, (+3, +5).
Place cabbage in the hippo paddock Q2, (-6 +2).
Place mice in the Eagle enclosure Q3, (-4, -9).
Place insects in the reptile house Q4, (+8, -4).
Have a coordinate plane with quadrants marked on the board or somewhere all students can see. As students finish, check for understanding by following their directions to each paddock/enclosure.
*This activity can be to design any place of interest. Include mapping out ancient cities, designing gardens and farmland, the ocean floor, etc… It can be extended by calculating the amount of food to give each animal or the cost of supporting such a facility, animals on the brink of extinction – should we be changing our philosophy on using animals for entertainment purposes?
11th/12th Grade Standards:
Language Arts Key Ideas and Details
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.11-12.3 Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks; analyze the specific results based on explanations in the text.
11th/12th Grade Level Activity to Address These Standards
Is our food safe? Have students use library resources or online, reputable sources to discover how we know if food is safe to eat. Read articles that provide information on the use of chemicals to enhance flavor, make meat and poultry grow faster or keep bugs away from produce. How healthy is our food now, compared to 100 years ago? Use and find conflicting evidence. Then research the authors of the resources. Are they representing any special interest groups? Do they have anything to gain by swaying your opinion? Your students will summarize these articles, present the findings. Student will use a specific medium of their choice and a teacher-provided outline to orally present their findings. Presentations can include a collection of data: health statistics, food manufacturer’s processes, experiments testing the nutritional value of non-organic processed foods and organic processed foods, etc. *This lesson can be altered by using a variety of environmental issues. Examples include: Fracking for natural gas, water pollution, waste management.
The skills being taught to students are what the Common Core is looking to measure. Relevant content is the medium to use to keep students interested and learning about the real-life issues in our world. The courses at The Teacher’s Academy are designed to expose teachers to a variety of resources to enrich learning in the classroom but also make it easy to implement. We show you ways to use online reputable resources, give you ideas to implement new techniques in the classroom and of course align the Common Core Standards.
Teachers need time to learn and understand these expectations before they can be expected to deliver the instruction. Teachers need time to “play” with technology and discover what works best for their students. The courses at The Teacher’s Academy are written by certified teachers who understand that time and cost are important factors when pursuing professional development. As teachers, we believe life-long learning should be beneficial and fun.
Interested in learning more about aligning your lessons with The Common Core?
Try one of our teachers online professional development courses:
- Story Maker
- Critical Thinking and Literacy Strategies
- Brain Based Strategies for Reading Comprehension
- Common Core Math Lessons