Skills for the 21st Century

Cognitive and Literacy Skills for Success in a Fast-Paced Technological Age

New Common Core Standards – Where’s the Tech?

Posted by durencls on June 4, 2010

On June 2nd, 2010, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) released  the Common Core State Standards  for grades K-12.

Developed in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders including content experts, states, teachers, school administrators and parents… [we think that the] standards establish clear and consistent goals for learning that will prepare America’s children for success in college and work. ” [Read press release]

Many in the K-12 field and the field of Adult Literacy Education have been closely following the development of the Common Core Standards (see our 4/21/2010 post). It is expected that these standards will have a dramatic effect on WHAT is taught, WHEN, and HOW in all education fields. Upon (an admittedly quick) review of these standards, I noted these things overall:

  • The English Language Arts and Mathematics Standards documents have signficantly different formats/approaches (clearly written by different folks). Thus how these two documents address technology skills is very differently.
  • The Language Arts document is organized around a set of “College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards” in 4 areas: Reading – literature, informational text and foundation skills, Writing, Speaking & Listening, and Language) – skills they feel students should have upon exiting K-12 education. They also provide a ‘vision’ of students who are “College and Career Ready in English Language Skills.”   
  • The Math document contains a general list of “Standards for mathematical Practice” – processes and proficiencies important to all mathematical processes (technology is only mentioned in one place here in the entire document). The remainder of the document focuses on grade-specific “Standards for Mathematical Content” listing the procedures and understandings students should have at that level. They note however, that order may vary and hope that implementation of the standard may “…allow research on learning progressions to inform and improve the design of standards...”
  • The Language Arts document includes skills as applied in Social Studies and Science, and strongly emphasize the integrated nature of language skills with all other disciplines. The Mathematics Standards do not seem to do so.
  • Overall the Language Arts document seems richer and more well developed.  There is much more mention of technology integrated throughout. [But, then, it was written by *writers* not mathematicians, who tend to think about writing in a different way 🙂 ]
  • Technology: While I have not yet had the chance to read every paragraph under every grade level, I believe the writers of both documents have approached technology as a tool, not a set of skills in itself, and mention of technology is found mostly in the more “overarching” sections of the documents.
  • Lastly, it feels (to me) like there is something of a bias in these standards towards skills needed for success in higher education settings, although Career Readiness is mentioned throughout, there seems (to me) an emphasis of prepration for more academic environments.

So – what do these standards say about Technology skills for success?

The Mathematics Standards document says simply this, under Standards for Mathematical Practice:

5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
Mathematically proficient students consider the available tools when solving a mathematical problem. These tools might include pencil and paper, concrete models, a ruler, a protractor, a calculator, a spreadsheet, a computer algebra system, a statistical package, or dynamic geometry software. When making mathematical models, they know that technology can enable them to visualize the results of varying assumptions, explore consequences, and compare predictions with data. Mathematically proficient students at various grade levels are able to identify relevant external mathematical resources, such as digital content located on a website, and use them to pose or solve problems. They are able to use technological tools to explore and deepen their understanding of concepts.

The English Language Arts Standards document has more to say in several different sections:

Key Design Considerations:  Research and media skills blended into the Standards as a whole
To be ready for college, workforce training, and life in a technological society, students need the ability to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and report on information and ideas, to conduct original research in order to answer questions or solve problems, and to analyze and create a high volume and extensive range of print and nonprint texts in media forms old and new. The need to conduct research and to produce and consume media is embedded into every aspect of today’s curriculum. In like fashion, research and media skills and understandings are embedded throughout the Standards rather than treated in a separate section.
(emphasis added)

In the Language Arts ‘vision’ statement – “Students Who are College and Career Ready in Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, & Language”:

They use technology and digital media strategically and capably.
Students employ technology thoughtfully to enhance their reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language use. They tailor their searches online to acquire useful information efficiently, and they integrate what they learn using technology with what they learn offline. They are familiar with the strengths and limitations of various technological tools and mediums and can select and use those best suited to their communication goals.

In three of the four College and Career Readiness (CCR) anchor standards:

7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
8. Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

Speaking & Listening:
2. Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
5. Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
And also – New technologies have broadened and expanded the role that speaking and listening play in acquiring and sharing knowledge and have tightened their link to other forms of communication. Digital texts confront students with the potential for continually updated content and dynamically changing combinations of words, graphics, images, hyperlinks, and embedded video and audio.

WOW, that’s a lot to think over!  And you may have other things you want to investigate in this new document as well.  So Bill & I are going to give ourselves a chance to ruminate, and compare this standards document to both our list of meta-skills and the overall philosophy behind this blog and get back to you on this later.  (We’re going out of town soon and need to go do other stuff!)

In the meantime, you think on it too – and PLEASE feel free to make comments!


6 Responses to “New Common Core Standards – Where’s the Tech?”

  1. Linda Neely said

    Parent here with 9 years experience with local school district vpk-12 42,000 students and a School Advisory member since 2002. The very lack of core curriculum in the use of technology has created the divide already for our students. Less than 400 are prepared and proficient with even Word let alone the other features of Microsoft Office. Every year the district invests heavily in hardware and software (32 Million last year), yet last year when teachers were begging for copies of Microsoft Office, when I introduced them to Open Office, they were unable to transfer their skill set to the program (i.e. save as .doc). They have after school programs in technology (paid by stipend) but the school requires that they have a 9 week course in the 6th grade (where assessments for membership are made) thereby even transfer students are unable to attend. Instead of equal and free education for all it becomes the select (is your mom on the PTO?). This is a flagship for the district to win awards, not education. I was volunteering and asked 5 sets of 6th graders who were by curriculum to have created and published a foldable. Not one knew what I was asking. When I took it to the principal, I never received an answer. Therefore I took it to his supervisor, who would “check it out”, again no answer. I took it to the superintendent, being ignored is wonderful. I went to the school board meeting where they referred it back to the superintendent. There is no method for parents to hold the schools accountable. We’re told you don’t get the big picture, you misunderstood, we have time constraints, we cannot give your child a private education, I don’t have time for this, et el. Excuses no admission of problems, therefore no fixes on the radar. I was never asked again to volunteer.

    This blog on the failure for a national recognition that children need skill set learning to be proficient users of technology does not surprise me in the least. The parent input….lol it is only parents who are probably members of the educational field who are participating. Where do we let the majority of parents know about the ability to input their opinions? Show me them please. I know from hard work that in Florida at the DOE website there are links for input on new rulings. But you are working in a vacuum, you input your opinion or even facts and you never are responded to. Input at the very least has to have some interaction.

    We make mathematics and science harder for our younger students with spending time on language and writing within those lessons, so many of the sub-sets are not working at grade level and it just gets worse for them until they do the only option they have – drop out. We know who is struggling and not “getting it”. We excuse our adult, educated bad behavior of moving them on without the necessary skill sets with “we have not got the funds” “they are not mature enough, as they mature they will grasp it” “they have parents who are um, not assisting our efforts” “the student is not taking responsibility for their actions of not learning it” I like that one the best, second it’s the parents fault. How many times have you heard that? We blame children and their parents for the lack of ability to change our method of operation to see that they have at the minimum, skill sets to work in that daycare, or trash removal or whatever and most importantly we teach no economic factors i.e., how to budget and save. Prepare students for work, isn’t work your life? So we fail 30% of all American children and we have for forty years said that was good enough.

    You here are trying to “pick up the pieces” from K12. I admire your stamina and your dedication. If it was infectious, I would apply you to all teachers. I have read the posts where even you tire of technology, attempting to segregate and evaluate all that is out there. You are attempting to do recovery work which with the money that K12 spends we should not be trying to recover but to improve. There is the sad story. How many adults who use computers, understand 5% of the operating system? Hot keys? If education truly knows that technology is the future, where are the skills sets for our educators to pass them onto the students? Mostly non-existent for the future of our country, our children.

    I will leave you with this story – true: SAC meeting guest speaker Director of School Improvement. We meet in the media center, our Chair puts agenda and data on computer and uses projector for group, has for two years. A video was requested by Dr. Robison to be shown, we had the principal, an AP, our chair (who is a teacher on leave) none could get an audio feed from the laptop, the visual feed was running. The technology teacher was also present (with five other teachers); she never made an offer to assist nor was requested to assist, they were stuck. All these educated, highly trained individuals were stuck for a lack of audio. I suggested it had to be a loose connection, I was poopooed. I said that when something fails you start at the beginning and you will find it is usually the simplest of things. Twenty-five minutes later, it was a loose connection.

    I believe that we have a loose connection in the delivery system of education. Until we start at the bottom of that system and connect the loose connections, we will continue to fail our children, our adults in need of remediation and our society.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share with you.

    • wrmcnutt said

      Indeed, far too few educational professionals have the technology skills to be successful in the 21st century. I am reminded off-hand of one colleague, years back now, who retired rather than learn to read his e-mail. They put a computer on his desk, and he successfully ignored it for five years. Then the last memo from the Department Head came out: all official business would be conducted via e-mail. So he quit.

      Clearly, a lack of technology, and/or problem solving skills is not limited to adults with low literacy levels. In fact, in my previous incarnation as the manager of a help desk, I discovered that my best hires came from the repair field. My three best hires were: a helicopter mechanic, a tank mechanic, and a car mechanic. The ability to generalize from previous experiences and apply those generalizations to new problems is a core skill for ANY situation in the modern workplace.

      Thanks for reading and commenting on our blog, and helping us get the word out.

  2. The basic component in literacy has been tecnology. It is completely neglected, whereas it would be relativly simpl to use a bit of human engineering and make it user-frendly. I mean English spelling. Whoever can make literacy easier to acquire will deserve a Nobel Prize. Even computers have made no radical change to how millions still struggl, or to the social costs of those who fail. And since the outstanding barriers to literacy continue to be the quite unnecessary difficulties in English spelling, the centuries’ old topic still remains. Other languages reform their writing systems to a major or minor degree – but English lags.
    Experiment for exampl with how deleting surplus letters makes a difference to lerners with all sorts of problems – dyslexia, social disadvantage, lerners of Engish. Surplus letters in words serv no purpos in indicating meaning or pronunciation, and often mislead.
    We could distinguish minut (time) from minute (small) as we now distinguish secret and secrete. We could stop worrying about pronouncing climat, privat, immediat, opposit, probabl, possibl. (‘silent e’ to show long vowels and dubld letters to show stress or short vowels ar not surplus)
    Litl steps to us – but experiment and u wil see what a difrence they make to lerners and failers.
    Demon, omelet, economy, error, ether, exotic, horror, medieval, music, program, hav replaced Dr Johnson’s daemon, omelette, oeconomy, errour, aether, exotick, horrour, mediaeval, musick, programme, but we could move much faster.

  3. […] New Common Core Standards – Where’s the Tech? « Skills for the 21st Century blogpost with thoughts on the common core standards and technology (tags: technology edtech commoncore elementary middle high blogpost professionaldevelopment) […]

  4. […] Common Core:  Where’s the Tech? […]

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