Using Tech to Smooth the Transition to Common Core

From Jeff Kahn

With most new reforms, educators have to ask the question: "How will this change the way I teach and the way students learn?"

This is a particularly important question to ask about the current nationwide implementation of the Common Core Standards. Most states have adopted this set of curriculum standards and are planning for implementation.

Fortunately, the answer is teachers can use technology solutions they already depend on to ensure their curricula meet these new standards.

The standards exist; there is no need to create or rewrite them. Likewise, we are awash in an ocean of content. Teachers don’t face a problem of scarcity -- the problem is that there is too much to choose from. So how can we help teachers choose?

As is always the case with teachers, much work goes in before the lesson begins. Properly aligned content helps teachers reduce preparation time, if the discovery tools teachers use know how to search based on alignment and it adequately improves the relevancy of search results for them.

Discovering aligned content requires standards data to be associated with the content, ideally at authoring time. Authoring tools need to support this, as SoftChalk does through the standards alignment picker. Documenting which standards are used should be more than associating machine-readable tags -- a text description is also important. SoftChalk’s Curriculum Standards sidebar is a good example of this.

With the great need for aligned content, resources like discovery tools, content portals, sharing sites such as SoftChalk Cloud need to expose alignment data in searches and results. This provides teachers with an at-a-glance way to determine if the content they are interested in can help them adopt the Common Core.

Ultimately, all this work we (the tech developers) and teachers do to ensure easy access to standards-aligned content can help students meet curriculum standards. If a student has difficultly mastering a particular standard, being able to discover aligned content quickly and easily increases the chances of successful remediation. This is what many hope the Common Core can offer, and what developers can support in creating tools that adapt along with reforms.

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