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Use Common Sense When Selecting Common Core Programs

Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “There is nothing more uncommon than common sense.” As we try to delve into the full meaning and ramifications of the CCSS, I'm guessing some feel a bit like they are lost in a jungle. With all the uncertainty that is swirling about, it might be a good time to apply some common sense on how to best use technology to support our students in mastering the Core Standards in English/Language Arts.

Prior to selecting our technology-driven curriculum solutions, we put a checklist together to be sure the tools we implemented had the appropriate features to shift our instructional focus to help our students master the Core Standards and be college- and career-ready. Here’s what we were searching for:

  1. All For One, And One For All! Is the product flexible enough to differentiate instruction, respond to intervention and promote student achievement against the Common Core standards while being web-based for anytime, anywhere accessibility on any device?
  2. Going Up?Does the solution offer a staircase of increasingly complex and authentic digital text for improved reading comprehension and the close reading of texts? The solution we selected includes an extensive library of hundreds of Lexile®-leveled texts in both fiction and non-fiction genres for elementary, middle and high school students.
  3. Write On! Evaluate the product for its offering of a holistic approach to rigorous, cross-curricular, text-based writing skills development.
  4. Let’s Talk About It. Engaging today’s ever-wired students in conversations about anything can be tough enough.But literature? Why not! Look for a tool that delivers engaging video lessons that model appropriate, academic discussion and collaboration. This"show and tell"approach givestoday’sstudents best-practiceexamples of successful interactions where listening, speaking, writing, researchingand analyzing skillsare put to use viatechnology.
  5. Assess. Address. Success. The solution should provide a means for multiple assessments according to the Common Core objectives. Thetimely assessment of student’s writing and critical thinking skills –from teachers as well as peer review evaluations–give thoughtful, informed feedback for improved academic outcomes.

Pat La Morte is the Assistant Principal of Curriculum, Technology and PD at Bishop Moore Catholic High School in Orlando, Florida. His school uses StudySync, a reading, writing, and critical thinking product aligned to the Common Core Standards for grades 4 - 12.