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Common Core and Worrying Possibilities…

By Suzan Mullane.

Today, I talked to a veteran high school principal who discussed his concerns regarding the rigor of Common Core.

Yes, I’m a bit worried. Our AP classes and honor students will master the extra rigor quite successfully; in fact, when we conducted our curriculum alignment evaluations, as compared to Common Core, our AP and honors class curriculums were quite close to CC standards. My concern is for our students with disabilities and our large bilingual population. Obviously, we need to scaffold instruction but will tracking disengage our more capable students who are mainstreamed? Could minority and students with disabilities isolate themselves and quit coming to school because of tracking or watered down curriculum that is boring lacking in inquiry? What about the teacher who may not choose to scaffold and the kid is frustrated everyday? Now, more than ever, we need RTI and we need to make it part of the teacher evaluation process! Some kids will need cooperative group learning. Sadly, few teachers use it, especially in traditional math classes.

When educators consider Common Core, it is wise to look at the affective domain and student project based learning. Students focus with project based learning; furthermore, the opportunity to practice a myriad of skills serge when educators offer cooperative groups working towards a common goal. Particularly students considered at-risk. Practice of the English language is facilitated as well as creative thinking, student self-determination and social skill development. However, care should be taken to avoid group stagnation. Fluid groups are best, in part, based on student theme choice. Flexible groups are not tracking and differentiated instruction does not always mean less work is better. It is about the quality of work that defines academic success. When educators think about their own high school experiences, chances are they’ll remember their own cooperative group experiences’”working towards a common goal’”celebrating creative thoughts based in success.


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