Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What Will the Iowa Core Look Like in 
Manson Northwest Webster Classrooms?

The purpose of the Iowa Core/Common Core is to transform teaching and learning in all classrooms so students are college and career ready. So what does that mean for the teachers and students at Manson Northwest Webster?  The Iowa Core/Common Core highlights five shifts that should be happening in every classroom when the Core is fully implemented.

·         Lead high level, text-based discussions –This is as simple as  when  asking students to discuss a text as a whole class or in small groups, make sure the questions are grounded in the text, and  that students refer to the text in their responses.  While personal reactions and opinions are important, they should first be in response to what is being read.

·         Focus on process not just content – Teachers are passionate about their subjects and we are glad they are serious about students learning the skills and concepts because content obviously matters.  However, we cannot merely fill students’ heads with content; we should no longer ask students to just to memorize facts and details.  Instead, we should engage students in the learning process. Give students the opportunity to really understand the concept and connect it to their own lives. When students make multiple connections between a new learning and their own experiences, they develop a better understanding of what they are learning and learn the details along the way.

·         Create assignments for real audiences with real purposes - Of course teachers can create fake situations or simulate audiences for projects.  However, if our goal is to prepare students for life beyond school, they need to be given experiences like those they will have later. 

·         Teach argument, not persuasion - Logical argument convinces the audience because of the  merit and reasonableness of the claims and proofs offered rather than either the emotions the writing.  It is more for college and career to know how to create a logical argument and to be able to persuade someone.

·         Increase text complexity - It’s not just about the textbook anymore!  Besides making sure that an individual text is challenging enough, teachers can also raise the level of content in their classroom by using multiple sources of information. Providing multiple sources on the same topic can help students see a variety of perspectives, and it can help students adjust to texts at varying levels of difficulty.

Although the MNW staff  has been learning about the Iowa Core for a couple of years and thinking about what it means for the classroom, teachers are now in the process of furthering their study of the Core by taking part in area-wide professional development sessions.  During these sessions, the teachers collaborate with colleagues in surrounding districts and schools and follow an Iowa Core Investigations process that will help them discover what the Core is all about. While there are a lot of great learning opportunities going on in MNW classrooms, it’s quite likely not all classrooms have been transformed to reflect the Iowa Core/Common Core.  Learning the Core documents at a deep level during these inservice days is a first step to changing instruction and learning in the classrooms.

Even though we could approach the Iowa Core/Common Core as a compliance issue, we have chosen to look at the Core as an opportunity to prepare our students for their life beyond school.  The Iowa Core/Common Core is about learning and that’s what we’re about at Manson Northwest Webster.

1 comment:

  1. Laura,
    I love your closing. If the Iowa Core is only about "compliance" the possibilities for improved student learning are much dimmer. If all educators believe that it is important for students to be "College and Career Ready", it is easier to consider the changes that are necessary to fully implement the Iowa Core. Are our students really our first consideration?

    Thanks for making me think!