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Common Core promotes creative teaching

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2014 11:57 AM

The Common Core State Standards are a set of benchmarks for each grade level designed to ensure students are ready for college or the workforce by the time they graduate high school. The definition and intent of the Standards is fairly straightforward, yet many people seem to apply different meaning to the CCSS. As the 2014-15 school year begins (states have now fully implemented the Standards), it's important to reassess our understanding of the Common Core.

As Renée Middleton, dean of Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education at Ohio University, said in a letter to Education Week, people seem to think the Standards are a one-size-fits-all solution to education. She argues that such a view is incorrect. In actuality, schools will get the most out of the Common Core by developing aligned curriculum and teaching strategies that are unique to each school and teacher. The implementation of the Common Core actually gave producers of curriculum a chance to shine. Companies knew states would be looking for aligned content, and worked to develop interesting approaches.

A number of educators seem to like the idea, as they have taught Common Core-aligned content in creative and engaging ways thanks to new tools. Going into the new school year, let's find inspiration from innovative schools and teachers who developed lessons their students loved. Here are a few effective and fun ways students are learning within the Common Core: 

Playing to learn
We've covered several stories of teachers who have applied game mechanics to their classrooms. The approach, known as gamification, seems to have increased in popularity. Games such as Minecraft and devices like Oculus Rift have been used in certain classrooms to teach students core subjects. By using the principles of achievement, questing, teamwork and creativity that come with gaming, students can look at subjects like math and English/language arts in a new way.

Music and math
Some companies have created series of songs that teach students about math, science and English/language arts concepts. Rather than read about the order of operations in math (commonly referred to as PEMDAS), students can learn a hip-hop song to help them remember it. Concepts like PEMDAS are mentioned in the Standards as information students should know. Companies like Flocabulary take those benchmarks and make learning the concepts fun.

Experimentation in school
Whole schools have changed the education status quo. Students can attend schools that promote project-based learning that's cross curricular. Students complete experiments and build new technology as a hands-on way to learn ideas outlined in the Common Core.

Instead of seeing the Standards as a rigid doctrine, schools can view them as a chance to explore new and creative teaching options.