We just added the Common Core Standards to My eCoach. My team is trying to create a vetting process to match standards to projects and resources. After I reviewed the standards, I hit a wall. The Common Core Standards for English/Language Arts were vague in some ways and specific in other ways. I might not be clear here but I had an epiphany about the standards. Since we have all the state standards in My eCoach, I looked at correlations and saw similar issues. State standards are more specific but very little wiggle room for creativity. It is very easy for teachers to say this lesson matches to one or more standards, but this process is something teachers really never learned how to do. Some standards are very specific i.e. Social Studies, Math, and Science content where English Language Arts standards can be very broad.
For teachers’ own professional learning, they can learn how to unpack standards to make the use of standards creatively. Unpacking a standard is the process of identifying what students will know and be able to do when they have mastered the standard. Critical elements to the success of the unpacking process; identifying reliable resources for determining depth and rigor, scaffolding skills with the level above and below using clear and concise language for students.
The ELA 6th grade Common Core writing standard:
ELA-W.6.6. 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 three pages in a single sitting.
This standard covers so much and can easily be unpacked:
- the writing process
- how to use the Internet effectively
- collaborating with others
- keyboarding skills
However, how do you match to this standard when it covers so much? If you ask a teacher to match to a standard, this one standard can be at least a 6 week unit or many lessons. Parts of this standard could match almost every cross-curricular project where you ask students to write a draft or essay or script. What if a teacher has students practice their keyboarding skills each day for 20 days? Do they match to this standard?
Actually, the teacher has to be creative to figure out how to match to these standards. I browsed the math standards for a standard that would match to practical math — a project about money and life skills. Math teachers will have to be very creative to unpack a standard to find how to make Algebra or Number Sense relevant to real world activities. I’m curious how others find the Common Core Standards compared to their state standards especially math standards. The idea of national standards will help students who move from state to state and make a level playing field for students applying to college. I’m just concerned that some of these standards will be difficult for teachers to choose as an appropriate match for some of their lessons.
This could be a very interesting discussion as we develop professional development, resources, and projects matched to the standards.