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On the night of NBC’s live broadcast of “The Sound of Music” last week, a friend updated her Facebook feed to read: “Apparently, thanks to the Common Core, we can now watch ‘Sound of Music’ in our house. Whew, that was a heavy discussion.”
Knowing this friend as I do, I’m sure her status update had much less to do with seeing Carrie Underwood as Maria von Trapp than it did with unease about the educational shifts brought about by the implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS). With Common Core, the biggest change in the approach to English Language Arts (ELA) and Literacy is a significant increase in non-fiction over fiction. Turns out, my friend’s nine-year-old son is deep into a book about Nazi Germany at school.
For many students, this kind of reading is new, and some parents are anxious about how to prepare their kids for the switch.
Regardless of how you feel about the new standards, one benefit to having a common, national curriculum is that resources offered in any state and school district to help with the transition can, for the most part, be adopted by families across the country.
I’ve been busy researching. Below are my five favorite resources for helping kids succeed with the new Common Core standards:
1) The breakdown: Many schools and school districts have included information on their websites about CCSS. A helpful piece of writing that’s been included in many, many Common Core summaries includes a list of changes and what parents can do to prepare their kids. For example, when it lists the Common Core requirement that students “form judgments,” the advice counterpart is that parents “demand evidence in every day discussions / disagreements.” Go here and scroll to the middle of the page for an extensive list.
2) See it in action: For some, a fear of the unknown adds to the Common Core angst. Teaching Channel, a website that allows members to “trade ideas and share inspiration” about teaching, has posted many videos of teachers using Common Core standards in the classroom. If you or your child are worried, have a look with them to demystify the shift a little bit.
3) A tutor’s wisdom: While some of the tips in this roundup by experts may seem depressing (ex: “Turn family dinner into math games”), there’s a lot of good advice here. The tips dealing with the dreaded testing are particularly valuable.
4) Look at lesson plans: Similar to watching videos of teachers implementing Common Core standards on the job, the Lesson Planet website provides thousands of resources, including lesson plans and articles about Common Core. If nothing else, it will elimate any mystery.
5) Magazine stand: As the new standards emphasize facts and non-fiction, certain magazines tailored towards children may be helpful in bolstering their stockpile of facts. Kids Discover, which focuses on a variety of non-fiction topics, Cobblestone, a magazine with an American history bent, and Muse, with a focus on science, are just three of many fantastic publications for kids. They show up in your mailbox regularly, which can help you keep up with your goal of carving out time to help.
Have you done anything in particular to prepare your child for the Common Core State Standards? Tell us in the comments or in a blog post.