When I choose to read complex informational text, I usually turn off the computer and read from a hard copy. If I stay on my computer, multi-tasking takes over and my comprehension falters. So in order to write this blog post, I decided to print my background reading material, disciplined myself to focus, and tried to write and communicate effectively.
Given that I’ve stared at this introductory paragraph for over 10 minutes with tons of edits and very little progress, “communicating effectively” can be tough work! That’s probably where the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are trying to help. The framework (per page 7 of CCSS ELA intro.) emphasizes self-directed learning, critical thinking, evidence based reasoning, digital literacy, and the ability to express ideas into a globally competitive workplace.
Sounds good so far, right?
Well, educational philosophies are a hot button issue.
Debates on whether CCSS are nationalizing education, taking autonomy away from the states, or hampering our creative liberty, are all being debated in the press. I read some of these arguments over the weekend, and calibrated those views with the limitations laid out on page 6 of CCSS (“What is not covered by the standards”), and concluded that at the very least, a universal framework in the U.S. (and even world) can be a useful tool to get parents, teachers, AND app developers communicating progressively together about education.
I’m going to get started by encouraging educational app developers to take a look at where their app intersects with the CCSS. And would you believe, there is an APP FOR THAT? Yes, it’s called the Common Core and it’s a free download on the App Store. So you can take this app, and navigate around the standards to see where you match.
For the K-5 grade levels, which represent the majority of content I’m familiar with at Moms With Apps, here are the major categories I observed:
- Reading (Literature, Informational Text, Foundational Skills)
- Speaking and Listening
- Counting & Cardinality
- Operations & Algebraic Thinking
- Number & Operations in Base Ten
- Number & Operations – Fractions
- Measurement & Data
OK, so what about science, art, music, history, geography, and all of those wonderful bodies of knowledge? I believe, if I’m reading this correctly, that the K-5 level teachers incorporate those disciplines based on the curriculum they choose to use at their school, so those subjects would be integrated throughout the year with rich tasks. But I’m not an expert; I just picked up this document over the weekend, and would welcome input from educators familiar with the material.
For app developers, I wouldn’t take the absence of specific subjects like “art” or “music” too literally. If you have a drawing app with a blank screen of paper, and it can be used to practice writing letters, then read the standards for writing, speaking, or language to find out where your app excels (HINT: Look at K.W.6 and K.SL.5) Overall, I see a LOT of correlation between many of the letter writing and alphabet apps, and the “Foundational Skills” section of the reading standards.
I’m eager to explore this framework together, and I hope you are too. If we have a questions about if and where the app fits, it’s a valid excuse to stop a local teacher in the hallway to discuss your app. It’s almost summer and the kids are out of the classroom – which could be a great time to demo your creation to the teachers.
Lorraine Akemann | Editor | Moms With Apps