Monday, December 31, 2012

A Late Night Glance at Common Core Standards as They Apply to Technology

Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the past few years you have heard the rumble of the Common Core State Standards.  At present 45 states are in the process of adopting a set of common standards that aim to "provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them."  Unfortunately, many of the educators I have spoken with, while aware of these standards, are confused or overwhelmed by the abundance of information they contain.  And I must be included in the previous statement and I am by no mean a Common Core expert.  What is contained within this post are late night ramblings based on my understanding thus far.

Over the past few years, I have tried to tie presentations I give on educational technology to ISTE's NETS.  But now I am trying to relate those same presentations to the Common Core and am having some difficulty in doing so. Perhaps, it is because there is a different set of standards for each grade level K-12.  Or maybe it's because at present time there are no Technology Standards?  Currently the Common Core has standards for Math and Language Arts.  Apparently, teachers of other subject matter have to find ways to integrate their lessons into those competencies.

I may be rambling a bit because this post is being written in the wee hours of the morning.  But after weeks of research, I may have finally encountered a breakthrough when it comes to integrating technology into the Common Core.

While most sites I have encountered suggest that technology best fits into English Language Arts Category, I think there are some ways that technology also fits within Mathematics.  These Mathematical Standards are broken into two sections: Content and Mathematical Practices.

Content seems focused on specific knowledge by grade level.  And that in itself for me is one of the challenges of the Common Core. For example, within Grade 5: Operations & Algebraic Thinking we have: CCSS.Math.Content.5.OA.A.2 Write simple expressions that record calculations with numbers, and interpret numerical expressions without evaluating them. For example, express the calculation “add 8 and 7, then multiply by 2” as 2 × (8 + 7). Recognize that 3 × (18932 + 921) is three times as large as 18932 + 921, without having to calculate the indicated sum or product.
There are certainly plenty of pieces of software that could assist with achieving these very concrete concepts.

But I think where technology integration will really shine is within the Mathematical Practices.  Within the K-8 Mathematical Practices are common across grade levels:

  1. 1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  2. 2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  3. 3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  4. 4. Model with mathematics.
  5. 5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
  6. 6. Attend to precision.
  7. 7. Look for and make use of structure.
  8. 8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning
Because there is true commonality across grade levels it should be easier to tie technology to these Standards.  For example, Wolfram Alpha could apply to "Use appropriate tools strategically" 

At the High School level, there are also Content and Practices sections.  Content, is not broken down by grade level and include Number and Quantity,Algebra, Functions, Geometry and Statistics and Probability. Again, these are very specific goals to which it should be easy to tie specific software programs.

Practices appear to be referred to as "Modeling."  According to corestandards.org, "Modeling links classroom mathematics and statistics to everyday life, work, and decision-making. Modeling is the process of choosing and using appropriate mathematics and statistics to analyze empirical situations, to understand them better, and to improve decisions...modeling standards appear throughout the high school standards indicated by a star symbol (★) As such, finding real life scenarios and solutions using Web 2.0 should be relatively easy. They provide the example of  "Estimating how much water and food is needed for emergency relief in a devastated city of 3 million people, and how it might be distribute" Tools like Google's Crisis Map immediately come to mind as real world technology implementation.

So in my sleep deprived mind I see Content as relating to specific softwares and Practices as adhering more to Web 2.0 and the 21st century skills of Communication, Collaboration and Creativity.  Does that make sense?

Within Language Arts, there are 5 key areas: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, Language and Media and Technology.  This is a bit confusing since there are not actually standards for Media and Technology. Instead they are embedded into the other 4 key areas.  Confused yet?  Well, here's my take on it.  Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening and Language have very specific grade level standards.  For example: "CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.2.4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension."  Certainly, a site like raz-kids.com would be helpful here.

Throughout the English standards are technical opportunities.  For example "CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source." Suddenly, we start to see opportunity for applications like wevideo, Prezi and Voicethread to be used in creative ways and still adhere to standards.

The English Language Standards seem to culminate with the "College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Language".  Here we seem to see the most opportunity for Collaboration, Communication and Creativity.  For example: ""CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression." allows for ideas like Project Based Learning and Digital Storytelling start to shine because the seem to be the end goals for each Grade Level in High School.   Why there are no Anchor Standards for Math I have yet to discover.  Perhaps I am missing them?

Two videos from AlignAssessAchieve on YouTube helped me to really start to see the light as it were and those can be found here and here. I am not sure if I am on point but I think I am on the right track?!

If you found this information to be helpful in anyway or if you think I am completely off point.  Please leave a comment. 

I am going to get some sleep now and probably re-visit my rambling in the morning
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