Friday, August 12, 2011

Let’s hear it for the Common Core!

Looking for support to increase the integration of technology in today’s elementary schools?  Look no further than the Common Core Standards, recently adopted by most of the states in our nation.  Technology is woven into the standards in ways that we have not seen in past state or local curricula.  The next few years have the “potential” to bring us closer to the 21st century.  I think the powers that be have finally come to recognize that we are already in the 21st century.  Better late than never….
Here are a few examples of the “potential” I see in the Common Core:
The Writing Standards K-5 document has a number of explicit connections with technology:
The continuum moves from Kindergarten – “With guidance and support from adults, explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.”  By grade 5 – “With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the internet, to produce and publish writing as well as interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.”
Other grade 5 standards include:
“Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.” and “Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources.”
In the Speaking and Listening Standards the following is listed as a grade 5 indicator – “Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, sound) and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.”
In terms of Math standards, the integration is sometime explicit, sometimes more implied.  With the advances in technology and the wealth of apps available on today’s smart phones, I would expect additional fundamental changes to how we approach math instruction in the coming years.
All of this without even mentioning STEM education?  Wow! 
Several things jump out at me about technology and the Common Core.  First, in order to our fifth graders to reach the expectations in the Common Core, technology integration needs to start very early.  Kids in PreK and Kindergarten need rich technology experiences to build the foundation skills they will need in order to meet the standards in later grades.  Second, the standards will be unattainable given the current computer configurations found in most elementary classroom settings.  One or two shared classroom computers simply will come up short.  I believe the Common Core Standards make a very strong case for the expansion of one-to-one mobile computing programs.  Not only does it make sound financial sense, today’s learners need to be connected when THEY need access to information, not when the teacher grants them access to information. 
I used the term “potential” earlier in today’s post.  At this point, that’s all the standards represent.  It’s up to folks like you to advocate to greater integration of technology to truly prepare our students for that amazing future that lies ahead of us.  No pressure.

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