Simple Tips to Help Every Teacher Meet the Common Core

from Education World

Teachers everywhere want to know how the new Common Core State Standards will alter what they teach and how they teach it. To gather an-swers to those questions, I spoke to educators across the country. Here are some of the things I learned.

To meet the CCSS, teachers should:

 Lead high-level, authentic discussions. Teach-ers should craft good questions, and students should learn to cite textual evidence in their responses. For great ways to teach speaking and listening skills, see the book, Teaching Critical Thinking by Terry Roberts and Laura Billings.

 Focus on process over content. That doesn't mean content is not important. It means teach-
ers shouldn't ask students to memorize vocabu-lary words or facts; instead, they should engage students in the gathering-information and learn-ing process. (For suggestions, see Vocabulary at the Center by Amy Benjamin.) Also, it’s a mistake to think you have to nail each stand-ard, one by one. The standards are not meant to be taught via isolated, discrete tasks. In the real world, skills overlap, and they must overlap in the classroom, too. For a great unit that combines multiple standards, check out this research unit by Heather Wolpert-Gawron (http://www.edutopia.org/blog/common-core-lesson-plans-speeches-heather-wolpert-gawron) .

 Create assignments for real audiences and with real purpose. Don’t assign papers that are just for the teacher. Design projects with a real purpose, such as to solve a problem in your community. Have students present their find-ings to an authentic audience—online, in print, or in person. Students will benefit from these rich experiences and be more motivated to learn.

 Teach argument, not persuasion. According to Appendix A of the CCSS, persuasive writing might “appeal to the audience’s self-interest, sense of identity, or emotions,” whereas a logical argument “convinces the audience because of the perceived merit and reasonableness of the claims and proofs offered rather than either the emotions the writing evokes in the audience or the character or credentials of the writer.” Teach students how to gather logical evidence.

 Assign increasingly difficult texts. One way to increase text difficulty is to use text sets. For ex-ample, one teacher at the conference suggested combining The Odyssey with a Star Wars text and an NPR story on veterans and violence. Text sets increase engagement and help students make thoughtful connections.