Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Common Core Will Work for Students

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Common Core Will Work for Students

Article excerpt

Byline: Apryl Shackelford

Over the last three years, Duval County and districts across Florida have been gradually transitioning new Common Core State Standards in math and English-Language Arts into Florida's classrooms.

These clear, ambitious and relevant expectations for students will replace outgoing Next Generation Sunshine State Standards in the same subjects next year.

As Duval County's Teacher of the Year, I embrace these new standards. They bring needed rigor and emphasis on critical thinking to the classroom. They give teachers added flexibility to design plans to help students meet high standards without overwhelming them with material. I know they will offer a better path to college and career opportunities for all of my students.

Many students have been held back by a "top-down" approach to instruction where teachers gave long lectures and children were expected to memorize information then regurgitate it on test questions.

Common Core flips this model. Teachers are becoming facilitators of learning.

For instance, many of my students struggle with reading because they have poor vocabularies.

When they open conventional reading textbooks, they find fictional passages with abstract characters and settings with which they cannot relate.

MAKE MATERIAL PRACTICAL

By contrast, Common Core has a stronger emphasis on authentic texts, like news articles, which allows my students and me to select passages for lessons and assignments that interest them. Once students connect with the materials, it makes a tremendous difference in their ability to master vocabulary and reading comprehension skills.

I've witnessed the difference. Last year, students engaged in articles of interests, such as the school uniforms debate. After reading the article together and highlighting vocabulary words from the article - terms that initially were foreign to them - students used those words in proper context and constructed evidence-based arguments for or against school uniforms. …

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