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How new tech and teaching methods cover the Common Core
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2013 12:30 PM

Teachers face many challenges in modern classrooms. One of the most important of those challenges is being tasked with creating an environment that fosters creativity and collaboration among students who come from different cultural and social backgrounds. These students learn at different levels, absorb material in a variety of ways and do not always share enthusiasm or interest for each lesson.

Instructors who have to overcome the obstacles of a dynamic and flowing learning environment might be overwhelmed by so many difficulties. In addition, instructors are now integrating the Common Core State Standards into class curricula, teaching complex and more advanced content in the same amount of time. While doing all this successfully can be difficult, there are many teaching methods and systems being developed that help educators meet these challenges. 

What are the Common Core State Standards?
The Common Core State Standards are a set of academic benchmarks designed and developed by a committee of governors and education experts. More than 40 states have adopted the Standards since they were developed in 2009. These benchmarks are rigorous and students in kindergarten through high school have never before been expected to face academic challenges like the ones posed by the Standards. The majority of the Standards focus on math and language arts concepts and skills, but they are expected to expand to include more subjects in the coming months and years.

As the Standards become more commonplace in the classroom, school districts in each state will be using Common Core-based exams to assess the academic knowledge and skills of their students, as well as to track their progression through each level of schooling. The Common Core-based exams are also a means of evaluating the skill of teachers and the overall rating of a school.

Adaptive learning and blended learning courses 
Greater expectations have created an understandable pressure to perform at a very high level for both students and teachers. Fortunately, instructors can use modern technologies and methodologies to give students consistently excellent educational experiences in preparation for annual Common Core-based assessments.

Adaptive learning is a hybrid teaching system that integrates educational software into the modern classroom. Computer technology and Internet-based programs modify the presentation of course material in a way that is best suited to each student based on his or her responses to material-based questions. There are many different types of adaptive learning systems in the market today, but they often follow the same principles. It starts with the initial interaction between teacher and student. Through non-technological techniques such as question and answer, group observation and one-on-one discussions, skilled educators are able to formulate a preliminary course of instruction.

Teachers can begin to assess progress in real time when students move on to the portion of the class where educational software is used. Modified curriculum, specific learning activities and continuous adaptive analysis of a student's answers are collected into a database. The way students answer questions, and even the questions they choose to answer, are taken into consideration by powerful analytical programs. The software adapts to the needs of the student by following his or her line of interest and gives the student feedback on incorrect answers. When the activities are over, the instructor reviews the data and can modify future lesson plans for a more personalized learning experience.

Blended learning follows the same principles as adaptive learning. Courses that use a blended system integrate online or mobile technologies in traditional face-to-face instruction. Students are given greater responsibility over their education and can choose the educational programs they want to use, the pace at which they will learn course material and at what period during the class they will use the computer software. Students can cover more material by working at their own pace, and the advanced instructional software gives teachers the essential data they need in order to develop the most effective lesson plans for their students.