Why I’m a Common Core Advocate
By Cheryl Mosier, earth science teacher
While still in middle school, I decided to become a teacher. I first wanted to teach math, but soon found that science, specifically earth science, was my true passion.
There have been many changes to my world as an earth science teacher in Colorado. But I’ve learned over the years that I have the power and responsibility to speak up for what is best for the students I reach, directly and indirectly. Regardless of whether it is a new evaluation system, educator effectiveness laws, a new statewide assessment system, or revised state content standards and college/career readiness standards, they all affect my ability to make a difference in the lives of students.
I have had the opportunity to work on standards writing committees for the state, as well as assessments for my district and state. All of this has influenced my strong support of the Common Core State Standards. The Common Core State Standards are the best innovation to happen in education since I started teaching over 20 years ago. Here’s why:
The CCSS are the floor, not the ceiling for all students. This means that while they will be a challenge for some, others can have their learning extended and enhanced. These expectations are not the lowest common denominator as some claim; rather, they will set a high bar for all students. With the right support at the right time, all students will be able to meet these expectations.
Simply put, the CCSS are a set of consistent and realistic expectations to help prepare students for a successful future in today’s changing world.
Recently I stumbled across an awesome quote from Michael J. Fox: “If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” The CCSS will force all educators to change their classroom practice and become more innovative.
The CCSS is not a curriculum, which means I have the opportunity to collaborate with educators in my school, district, state, and nation to develop and implement the best practices at the best time. Having already implemented a flipped classroom, I’ve seen first-hand how using technology to teach today’s students has made a powerful and positive impact on their learning. Utilizing the CCSS in my science classroom will increase their science literacy, develop informed citizens and create life-long learners.
In my 9th grade science classroom, I will be responsible for ensuring that I address the ELA Standards for Science and Technical Subjects. This means that I will have to figure out better ways to engage students appropriately with complex texts. I have to learn how to develop quality text-dependent questions. Students will have to precisely follow directions to gather data and explain that data in words. Students will have to take written information and translate that data into visual information. I have to find other sources of text to support our content and to introduce students to other ways of learning and knowing. I have to teach content specific vocabulary beyond memorizing definitions. I have to continue to teach students using research-based, and innovate strategies.
Most of all, I have to start speaking up more and helping to educate my community on the benefits for all students of the Common Core State Standards.
My 4th grade son will graduate high school being college and career ready with not only the content, but more importantly, the 21st Century Skills he will need. This also means that he will have endless opportunities to compete in today’s constantly changing global market. He will be exposed to classic literature, but will also get to ask questions and find answers to things that truly interest him. He will learn how to effectively communicate, listen critically and use information appropriately. He will have a firm grasp of mathematical concepts rather than memorizing facts and formulas. As a mom, nothing makes me more excited about the Common Core.
Over the past few months listening to parents and non-educators speak at meetings, reading blogs through various media and having general personal conversations, I have seen and heard many misconceptions.
I have read the standards and come to my own conclusions about them. I’ve attended trainings about CCSS and critically read some of the blog posts and comment strands. I’ve communicated with others, looked for supporting evidence, tried to understand bias and perspective, evaluated information from various sources and begun to write arguments and informative texts.
In short, I’ve used the skills that the Common Core State Standards are asking us as educators to teach our students. Yes, change is difficult and these standards may feel like just another reform being pushed down upon educators. But, I think you’ll find that the Common Core State Standards really do have the potential to provide access to a complete and challenging education for all children and to help them be successful in life outside school.