With all the controversy that surrounds the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), it’s easy to lose sight of what Common Core really means. What were these standards designed to achieve and what really qualifies a lesson as “Common Core aligned”?
At its core, CCSS presents more than a mean of standardization, but rather, a strategy to enact deeper learning and put the United States on the map when it comes to global academia. CCSS aspires to achieve more depth and less breadth of learning in the classroom. These standards intend for classrooms to cover fewer topics at a more comprehensive level, so that students can intuitively apply what they’ve learned to real-life situations. Supporters bring up the old “quality over over quantity” idea. Think of it as opting for a full course meal over twenty burgers from the Dollar menu at McDonald’s. It makes sense, right? Teach students skills they can use.
When it comes to developing curriculum that achieve these goals effectively, it is a good idea to come up with essential questions for the students participating. These essential questions should engage the learner in inquiry and get them thinking beyond the confines of the lesson. Ultimately, students in CCSS classrooms should be leaders of their own learning, so don’t be afraid to “hand them the wheel”. As much as you are a teacher, learn to also be a guide. It can be just as effective to simply be the safety net as students lead the conversations. To equip students with real world skills, consider lessons that integrate multiple subjects. Imagine students learning vectors and angles while they make maps using latitude and longitude. Imagine students being able to predict the weather using calculus! It’s a funny thought, but cross-curricular teaching is a major key to developing deep, applicable learning.
I know, I know. Easier said than done.
When it comes to providing CCSS aligned content, UClass is proud to boast over 600 lessons and 2000 resources. Our coveted Teacher Board adheres to robust CCSS math, ELA, and science rubrics to ensure that only quality content enters your classroom. The rubrics help guarantee that all components of our lessons promote real-world application and encourage students to challenge assumptions. We commend our teachers for their dedication to the challenge and the excitement they see in the Common Core changing the course of education.