Common Core

Pointers for Parents are regular inspirations to bring hope and encouragement to parents. I hope to build a bridge between parents and teachers as it pertains to the education of children and how we can work together for the betterment of our kids.

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They’ve been around for a while now…the Common Core Standards…and they’ve received quite a bit of negative publicity. That is understandable, because they are so completely different than the way most of us learned when we were in school.  The math has particularly gotten a bad rap.  I mean who does multiplication like that, and why can’t we just teach kids the facts by drilling them?  Let’s not even get started on the way they teach division!  At every level, and in every subject, it seems this new way of doing things is foreign to most of us as parents.  It makes it difficult to help with homework.  It makes it difficult to know what the teacher wants on projects and papers. Many parents have washed their hands of even trying to help their kids, since they don’t know what is expected.  Others have taken up arms to battle the standards, hoping to go back to the “good ole days” when you just learned the facts.  Still others have bought into the conspiracy theory that the schools are trying to brainwash our kids.  I want to take a minute to explain how we got these standards in the first place.

In our current technological world, businesses were having difficulty hiring employees who could think.  What I mean by that is that many of the jobs today require a different kind of thinking than used to be needed. The job market has changed and become more about problem solving, analyzing, and using information to complete different types of tasks.  Because of this change, schools needed to change the level of questions our students are being asked.  In order to do this, the standards changed. I would agree that many standards are not developmentally appropriate for the ages at which they are taught.  However, I understand the idea behind the changes even if I don’t always agree with them.  For years, teachers have used Bloom’s Taxonomy for defining the levels of questions they use.  The new standards are requiring higher levels of questions…that is their goal.  Therefore, you will see more instruction where they have to first, learn the basics, and then take what they know and use it in other kinds of tasks in multiple ways.  Before common core, only the “gifted” kids were taught the higher levels, now every student is expected to be taught this way.

Whether you agree or not, it is helpful to at least understand what these levels are. Here’s a list, and I added a question from each level so you can see how they get harder and require different types of thinking as they go up. The questions are based on an article about social media use in schools, but the levels can be applied to any subject area, these are just examples.

Knowledge– asks you for basic facts or information that is found in the article.

 How many students use social media in our schools?

Comprehension– asks you questions to determine if you understand the material.

 Explain the problem of social media use among students in schools?

Application– asks you to put something into operation based on what you understand of the knowledge of some circumstance.

  Can you make a schedule for social media use in groups of your peers?

Analysis-asks you to examine methodically and in detail information for the purposes of explanation and interpretation.

 In what specific way is social media different from passing notes in former generations?

Synthesis– asks you to compare or contrast a combination of ideas and make a conclusion.

Is there a better solution to the complexities of social media use among students than what we are doing now?

Evaluation– asks you to assess or judge the information.

What are the outcomes of social media use in the future if it continues as it is now?

All controversy aside, I believe all parents want their kids to be able to think at higher levels.  In the current job market, it is a necessity. My goal is to help parents to help their kids. The ultimate goal of Common Core is to grow kids into this new way of thinking things through so they can use factual knowledge in a variety of other ways.  Even if we disagree with the methods, I think we can get on board with the premise that we want our kids to be successful in the future.

(This material was taken from a Study Skills course M&M Educational Solutions offers students.)

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