Wow! Looking at the Common Core Standards there is a lot of "stuff" that we are going to be required to teach our students in a short amount of time. In some schools, teachers will be required to teach twice the amount of information in the same amount of time that they were given before the new standards. On top of having more to cover in the same amount of time, we will be evaluated on how well our students do on the Smarter Balance test that covers the Common Core Standards. It is quite overwhelming! In this blog, I am going to talk about some of the things I am worried about with the standards, and some of the reasons why I am glad we are all switching to common standards.
First of all, I will talk briefly about what I am worried about with the new standards. Like many, I am worried about not having enough time to teach everything, and I don't want to have to make the decision to leave something out when everything is equally important. There are so many new technologies and activities that I would like to use in my classroom, but I am worried that with the amount of material I will need to cover I won't have time to enrich my lesson plans with technology and in depth discovery. In addition, I have mixed feelings about having the students take the Smarter Balance tests online. I want my students to work out the problems and show me the steps they have to take to get the answer, and I am not completely sold on how doing the tests online will encourage this.
Secondly, I will discuss why I am glad we are all switching to Common Core Standards. Growing up in a HS of about 800 students, I had a lot of opportunities to take a range of Math courses. We had courses from Pre-Algebra to AP Calculus. Although we were given the opportunity to take these courses, some of the topics that should have been covered in our Algebra 2 class weren't covered until Pre-Calculus, and most students don't make their way up to that high of a math. One of the topics that wasn't taught until later was the topic of matrices. These were not taught until Pre-Calculus, even though there are matrices on the ACT. As a student, this was frustrating because there was a topic on the math portion of the ACT that I hadn't even heard of before, and I felt like my HS didn't prepare me well enough to take the test. I believe that it will be beneficial for all of us to follow the Common Core Standards because we will all be taught the same material. So when we go into national tests, like the ACT, we will all be on the same playing field. In addition, I look forward to what our math programs will be like in 10 years. I think as educators we are all overwhelmed right now but the amount of information we are going to be required to teach our students, but I believe in the long run the common standards are going to be a wonderful thing in our school systems. Of course, the transition years are going to be rough, but we can only go up from there. :)
In conclusion, whether we are worried, overwhelmed, excited, or complaisant about the new Common Core Standards, as educators we all need to band together and help each other walk through this changing time. We are all going to stumble and fall, but if we help each other get back up we can grow and succeed together.