Reitz High School

Reitz High School
Evansville, IN

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Are You Ready For Common Core?

  This post piggybacks off of my very first blog post where I asked this question, “Are we preparing the future for their future?”  Almost all of standardized testing, at least in my state, is online now.  Our district is preparing for that over the next few weeks.  Our students will be using their netbooks; we are 1:1 in grades 6-12.  As we are getting ready, I have heard some administrators ask, “Why are we doing it like this?”  They followed that comment up with “Pencil and paper is so much easier and you don’t have to worry about any tech issues.” 

            Now, lets get this straight.  I understand why an administrator would say such a thing.  We have a high stakes test that reflects the school that he or she is running and it also affects teacher evaluations and salaries. We sure don’t want any questions being missed because of a technology issue.  However, that is the way we do business now.  We need to be able to deal with technical issues.  When is the last time you took a photo, waited a week to get it developed and sent it through the United States Postal Service to a friend or relative?  Today we share pictures with friends and family just seconds after they are taken via cell phone with Instagram or Facebook.  We pay most of our bills online.  We check bank and credit card statements online.  We communicate by email, text, or instant message online.  We purchase and sell things online.  We look up information about the meds we take online.  We book vacations and check out hotels by looking at pictures online.  We use global positioning systems and Google Maps to get around.  These devices are also online.  Most of corporate America sits at a desk with a computer and works online.  Teachers take attendance, create presentations, make lesson plans, get ideas, communicate with a PLN, enter grades, fill out discipline reports, and email parents……yeah you guessed it, ONLINE!  So, why in the world wouldn’t we take standardized tests online?

            It is time for education and educators to get out of this 1950’s way of doing things.  We don’t live in that time period anymore.  We don’t want to prepare students to be ready for a 1950’s society. We want them to be 21st Century ready.  The common core standards require them to be 21st Century ready.  The questions asked in common core are not about going to your local library and doing research in an encyclopedia.  They asked questions based upon a students experience of using modern day tools and devices.  For example, lets look at a few:

W.1.6 With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.

This means students should be using multiple digital tools on a regular basis to produce and publish writing.  They need to be using digital tools that allow them to collaborate with other students.  Students cannot learn how to do this if they are writing with pencil and paper and only use technology once in a while.

W.4.6. 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; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.

Students will not gain keyboarding skills by using pencil and paper.

RI.8.7. Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.

Students definitely will not be able to evaluate different digital mediums if they never use them or use them on a regular basis.  They have to be able to determine which tool would be best to use in different situations.

SL.11-12.2. Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.

Students need to be taught how to determine which Internet sources are credible and which ones are not.  They can only do that if they have been using the Internet for research.

SL.11-12.5. Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.

Students can only do this if they have been creating digital media for reports and presentations themselves.  For example they should be using Google docs, PowerPoint, Keynote, PhotoStory for Windows, Prezi and other Web 2.0 tools.

The bottom line is that we cannot continue to live/teach in the past to prepare our students for the future.  We cannot continue to do what is easiest and teach 21st Century skills.  We must transform.  I read an article by Fred Sitkins, an elementary school principal in Boyne City, Michigan.  I loved the way he summed the Common Core standards and technology.  I would like to end with a quote from Mr. Sitkins.

“While at a first glance the Common Core can be viewed as one more thing being done to educators, there is a positive side to this change. It allows educators to teach deeper, it allows us to focus on teaching students how to learn as opposed to remembering, and it provides educators the freedom to take advantage of this technological revolution to transform our teaching practices. The fact that this change is occurring at the same time as the introduction of mobile technology like the iPad is just icing on the cake. Schools adjusting their curriculum in response to the Common Core must give serious consideration to the integration of technology into their instructional model. Not only will the integration of technology allow schools to meet the CCSS, but more importantly it will provide for the deep learning required of our students.”

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