The Role of Your Educational App in the Common Core State Standards

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)
  • Writing
  • Speaking and Listening
  • Language
  • Counting & Cardinality
  • Operations & Algebraic Thinking
  • Number & Operations in Base Ten
  • Number & Operations – Fractions
  • Measurement & Data
  • Geometry

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

5 Replies to “The Role of Your Educational App in the Common Core State Standards”

  1. Thank you for bringing this subject to app developers’ attention. I recently completed Part 1 of a Case Study regarding Apps with Curriculum in Education, and I know that educators appreciate apps that are aligned with CCSS.
    First, let me say that the CCSS is not comprehensive of what students should learn; it is a foundation of the basics that students across the nation should know. This provides educational consistency, which is critical when students change schools and that sometimes involves changing states as well.
    The standards are also an ongoing process; however, literacy standards do apply to other subjects, such as history, social studies, science, and technical subjects. They most certainly could be applied to the arts, so no subject should feel slighted.
    I am passionate about helping teachers and am excited that our new media for education – apps- considers their needs for apps being aligned to the standards.
    Most apps do align with the standards, you know. All one needs to do is a little research.
    Cyndie Sebourn
    National Board Certified Teacher
    Sascyn Publishing, Inc.

  2. I love that you talk about the core standards and apps. We have been discussing the core standards a lot this year in my program too. App developers should be aware that preschool core standards have also been developed. At our special needs preschool we focus on standards as we develop IEP goals. As the AT provider for our program and a Special Ed teacher, I am always looking for apps that will help with IEP goals. Keep developing great apps, and thanks!

  3. In the UK, they’ve had the equivalent of Common Core, called the National Curriculum, for over 20 years. Publishers would promote their products by listing the targets that a piece of software would cover, for example by saying that this software “helps children with work towards target 1A ”or “covers target !B” at year group 3 of the National Curriculum for Mathematics.

    Being able to quote the curriculum standard (ie the Common Core Standard) is quite a useful endorsement of the product, for both schools and parents. I have seen teachers selecting products on the basis of the targets that they list, and whilst I’m not sure how many parents were aware of the standard, it was an impressive detail to mention!
    I understand there are different curriculum for different countries – as mentioned we have the National Curriculum in the UK – and I understand there are ones for other countries too, for example, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.
    Peter Miles

  4. Question It aligns perfectly with the CCSS. If you look at the K-1 language standards, being able to answer Wh-qeustions about what they have heard is one of the first on the list for young students. As an SLP who formerly worked for a district and has worked with public and nonpublic schools for more than 30 years, I know how important this skill is in the classroom – and in life!

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