May 15, 2013

 

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Common Core shifts can help teachers outline instruction

South Dakota’s new content standards feature six major shifts for math, and six for English language arts. These shifts are the center upon which the standards are based, and highlight the differences between the old and new standards.

Educators should be mindful of the shifts as they guide student learning throughout the year.

A quick synopsis of each shift is outlined below. For more detail on the shifts, visit the Council of Chief State School Officers Common Core webpage.

Math Shift #1: FOCUS
Teachers concentrate time and energy in the math classroom on key grade-level concepts. This focus is necessary so students can begin to develop strong foundational knowledge and deep conceptual understanding early on in their academic careers. This focus will enable students to transfer mathematical skills and understanding across concepts and grades later on.

Math Shift #2: COHERENCE
Learning is carefully connected within and across grade levels so students are building new understanding onto previously laid foundations. This shift will help students understand how math concepts are all connected and build upon one another, ensuring that students are comfortable taking on new concepts.

Math Shift #3: FLUENCY
Students acquire speed and accuracy with simple calculations through structured class time. Through mastering the predictable procedures of mathematics, students gain insights into the structure of math, and can apply appropriate procedures flexibly to solve problems correctly.

Math Shift #4: DEEP UNDERSTANDING
Students demonstrate a solid and thorough mastery of math concepts, smoothly operating within multiple concepts prior to moving on. Such deep conceptual understanding is critical for student success in later grades, and goes beyond isolated facts and methods, understanding why a concept is important and the context in which it is useful.

Math Shift #5: APPLICATION
Teachers provide opportunities for students to apply math in real-world situations at all grade levels. The process of modeling is key in improving decisions as well as linking classroom math to everyday situations. Modeling helps students choose and use appropriate math to understand situations.

Math Shift #6: DUAL INTENSITY
Students are intensely engaged in both authentic practice and extended application of math. Teachers create opportunities for students to make use of complex skills through extended application of math.

ELA Shift #1: BALANCE
Students read a true balance of informational and literary texts. This shift isn’t about making sure students can read technical manuals; it’s about building integrated knowledge across grade levels beginning in a student’s early years.

ELA Shift #2: DISCIPLINARY KNOWLEDGE
Students build knowledge about the world and various content areas through text rather than the teacher. This shift aims to build students’ background knowledge and vocabulary, so they’re able to read and fully comprehend a rich variety of texts.

ELA Shift #3: STAIRCASE OF COMPLEXITY
Students closely read central, grade-appropriate texts around which instruction is centered. This shift ensures that students are constantly challenging themselves to improve reading levels, and provides them with the proper supports to do so.

ELA Shift #4: TEXT-BASED RESPONSE
Students engage in rich and thoughtful evidence-based conversations about text. Students will be able to use and interpret text; students will engage in thoughtful discussion that allows them to construct meaning from a text on their own.

ELA Shift #5: WRITING FROM SOURCES
Student writing emphasizes use of evidence from sources to inform or make an argument. This shift pushes teachers to move away from writing prompts without context, with the goal that students can work with a common body of text-based evidence more like what they might encounter in the workforce.

ELA Shift #6: ACADEMIC VOCABULARY
Students are constantly building the transferable vocabulary needed to process increasingly complex texts. Academic vocabulary increases reading comprehension and builds students’ background knowledge, which means they’ll be able to read increasingly complex texts. Teachers will strive to consciously use academic vocabulary in context during class discussions.

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