iPads and the Common Core Standards

You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.
― Galileo

common core 6One of the big questions I am repeatedly asked is about using iPads and implementing Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  When you study the standards and the purpose behind them, and you understand personalized learning, you can see how the two fit nicely together.

Personalized Learning is the tailoring of pedagogy, curriculum and learning support to meet the needs of the individual student.  Typically technology is used to facilitate personalized learning environments.  The CCSS are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our students need for success in college and careers. In Language Arts, the CCSS focus on students learning to read and write complex texts independently at high levels of proficiency and at a rapid rate to be effective.  The focus is on proficiency and complexity, yes, but also on independence.  We want our students to be able to do quick, on-the-run research when needed, to express their thinking verbally and in writing, and to summarize, analyze, and design without needing teachers to insert the key questions along the way or to walk them through step by step.  iPads are an ideal learning tool for these goals.  Having constant access to information, students are able to research when needed.  They are able to to write, compose, and create with various applications…all without having to wait their turn on a classroom computer.  The CCSS emphasize that every student needs to be given access to the thinking curriculum that is at the heart of the standards.

The Common Core standards is, above all, a call for accelerating students’ literacy development.  We must lift the level of student achievement.  This is not achieved by simply transferring a worksheet from paper to the iPad.  The CCSS call for true reform.  Reform needs to revolve around creating systems of continuous improvement that result in teaching toward higher expectations, personalizing learning for students-which in turn, increases rigor as well as student engagement. One way we can use iPads to implement the standards is iBooks Author.  iBooks Author allows us to create our own texts to move students up levels of complexity by providing them with many just-right, high-interest texts.

As educators, we have to enable our students to become strong and proficient readers and writers.  Using iPads, we are able to fortify our own teaching, our students’ learning and meet the high standards of the Common Core.

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High Progress Classrooms, The Common Core and iPads

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.- John F. Kennedy

I’ve recently completed training on High-Progress Literacy Classrooms and Common Core State Standards for Language Arts.  One of the guiding premises behind the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is the standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. The shifts from the old state standards to the new CCSS are student-focused.

Students will do more than just read texts for basic comprehension.  They will be expected to pull from multiple sources to synthesize diverse texts and ideas, consider multiple points of view and read across texts. The ultimate goal of each standard is that all students will demonstrate key skills articulated in the CCSS on their own.  The expectations spiral across grade levels to help students reach this goal.

During this training, I read something written by Donald Graves called The Cha-Cha-Cha Curriculum.  He states that it is a sign of the times that silent, sustained reading lasts only twelve minutes and that we race our children through everything ever recommended.  Time is our scarcest resource and to teach well, we do not need more techniques, activities or strategies.

Using the iPads the last 2 years really helped me hone in on the essentials in teaching reading and writing.  Students are able to construct their own learning. They are able to research, read, write, and create.  Much of our curricula still includes things we no longer need or no longer feel strongly about.  By cleaning out our “curricular closets” we are more easily able to focus on those essentials.

The CCSS will definitely provide more rigor in our instruction.  These standards are designed to help ready our students for post-secondary education and the workforce.  Our students now will become our future leaders.  I’m excited about the possibilities of using the iPads in conjunction with these standards in the fall when we return to school.

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