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Preparing for the Common Core Curriculum

January 13, 2014

With the reality of Common Core knocking on our door, the Dublin Unified District has prepared a “Parent Resources” section on their website which parents may access to further their understanding of the new standards and learning our children will undertake.  This online library of information contains various articles and links pertaining to the Common Core Standards, Smarter Balanced Assessments where practice and pilot tests are viewable, Professional Learning Communities, a glossary of terms as well as a link to resources and information in Spanish and much more.

DUSD’s Parents Resources will be continuously updated with articles and resources of relevant information that will be helpful to parents as our District as well as districts across the United States navigate through this new educational initiative. The “Parent Resources” tab may be found on the District’s website on the far right side of the menu bar just above the carousel of photos.

Please find below a short informative video explaining the need for The Common Core Standards and a Q&A.

COMMON CORE STANDARDS Q&A

To be competitive in the 21st century, our students must have the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and in the knowledge-based economy. Today, students are no longer just competing with their peers from other states, but with students from across the globe. The Common Core State Standards will help them to do that.

The Common Core State Standards are a set of academic standards kindergarten through 12th grade that have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. CCSS was designed by educators and academic experts, and inspired by standards from the world’s highest-performing countries. It represents a seismic shift in the teaching of English Language Arts (writing, reading, listening and speaking) and Mathematics.

WHAT WERE THE STANDARDS BEFORE?

Before the adoption of CCSS, each state developed its own set of standards, creating a wide range of learning experiences and achievements. Students were not receiving a consistent high-quality education from school to school and state to state.

HOW ARE THESE STANDARDS DIFFERENT FROM THE MOST RECENT STATE STANDARDS?

The primary goal of CCSS is to teach critical thinking and problem solving. Students will become active learners in a dynamic classroom environment. They will become independent thinkers who can create informed opinions, critique the opinions of their peers and their world, defend their arguments with evidence and communicate their points of view effectively. On tests, they will be required to reason out the best answer, rather than memorizing the “correct” answer.

HOW WILL THIS CHANGE THE CURRICULUM?

In theory, CCSS should require fewer topics, but give teachers and students more time to explore the most important ones in even greater depth. Students will develop a deeper understanding of key concepts and be able to apply their knowledge to real-world situations. Under the new English Language Arts standards, teachers in all content areas will share in the responsibility for literacy development. Students will be expected to be able to read both literary and informational text closely and with deep understanding.

HOW WILL THIS AFFECT TEACHING?

CCSS offers teachers the opportunity to teach deeper rather than wider and allows them more time to help students master critical skills. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.

HOW WILL STUDENTS LEARN ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS?

Students will read more complex texts, both informational and literature. They will learn to create written opinions using evidence from multiple texts. They will learn to gather evidence to defend their opinions. In middle school and high school, students will learn to apply their literacy skills to math, science, social studies and technical subjects. They will learn to read and write well across all subjects in preparation for college and careers. CCSS leaves most curriculum decisions in the hands of educators. Resource: http://www.commoncoreworks.org/domain/111.

HOW WILL STUDENTS LEARN MATH?

Students will develop mathematical thinking and understanding. Foundational skills will begin in kindergarten and continue to develop through 12th grade. This will give students the building blocks to help them understand why and how math works in real-world situations. While fluency of math facts will remain important, more emphasis will be placed on the students’ true mathematical comprehension and reasoning. To demonstrate their depth of understanding, students will be required to explain in writing their thinking about how they solved a math problem. Resource: http://www.commoncoreworks.org/domain/119

HOW WILL STUDENTS LEARN SCIENCE?

Students will be taught using the the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), adopted in Oct. 2013. Testing for NGSS will not take place for at least two years. The NGSS are K-12 science standards created through a collaborative, state-led process. 26 Lead Partner States provided leadership to the standards writing teams. Resource: http://www.nextgenscience.org

HOW WILL MY CHILD BE TESTED ON THE CCSS?

The State of California is still working on finalizing the details, but beginning in the 2014-15 school year, students in grades 3-8 and 11 will be assessed using the Smarter Balanced Assessments in English-Language Arts and Mathematics. These computer-based tests will focus on developing richer, more authentic measures of student learning and will provide teachers precise, actionable information to improve performance.

HOW WILL MY CHILD DO ON THESE NEW TESTS?

Chances are, test scores will initially go down. Moving forward, every school district will need to work with educators to ensure they are teaching CCSS. It will take time. However, a level playing field ensures that all students will face the same academic challenges. Resource: http://www.smarterbalanced.org

HOW DOES CCSS CONNECT TO COLLEGE AND CAREER READINESS?

With the CCSS, students will become college and career ready as they demonstrate

    • The ability to work collaboratively
    • A strong foundation of content knowledge
    • The ability to think critically with more depth and complexity
    • An emphasis on informational text
    • The value of evidence
    • The ability to use technology and digital media strategically and capably

WHAT IS DUBLIN DOING TO TRANSITION TO CCSS?

Dublin teachers are working very hard during this transition to the Common Core State Standards. Teachers are working with coaches in specific grades and subject areas to ensure they are addressing the Common Core State Standards in their lesson plans. During this time, teachers are integrating new strategies, preparing aligned lessons and applying the new standards into all areas of the curriculum.

HOW WILL TECHNOLOGY BE USED TO TEACH OUR STUDENTS?

Technology will figure prominently into the transition to CCSS. Assessments will be done on computers – there are no more pencil-and-paper tests. Students may be utilizing their individual devices to research and seek information.

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP MY CHILD SUCCEED?

Get educated about the new standards and the ways in which it will change the way your child is learning in the classroom. As we strive for deeper understanding of subject areas and more complex text, encourage patience and perseverance. Read with your child. Ask them open-ended questions about what they are reading and studying. Ask them to talk about why they have reached the conclusions they have when working through homework, and ask them to support their conclusions with evidence whenever possible, even when the answer is right.

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