Opinion
Standards Opinion

Going Online to Ease Common-Core Transition

By Christine Newell — September 11, 2012 5 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

It’s an understatement to say the “next big thing” in K-12 education is the Common Core State Standards, the result of a state-led initiative to establish common educational standards in mathematics and English/language arts across the United States. Forty-six states and the District of Columbia have adopted the common-core standards and have begun or will shortly begin to transition into using them in classrooms this school year.

A key feature of the common core is the building of conceptual understanding and procedures from kindergarten through 12th grade, meaning teacher collaboration within and between grade levels will be a necessity. Beyond prescribing professional development within districts and states, the adoption of the common-core standards provides an unprecedented opportunity for teachers to meaningfully collaborate with their peers around the nation. As schools move their students toward the same educational goals, it makes sense for teachers to share ideas, instructional strategies, and reflections in real time. Engagement in meaningful conversation with fellow educators will provide teachers with support to understand and implement the standards.

Common-core implementation can be defined as the steps taken by states, counties, and districts to raise awareness, build resources, develop and establish professional learning opportunities and collaborations, and align curriculum, instruction, and assessments, as well as strategies and practices developed and reflected upon by teachers.

Online learning communities can provide a space for teachers nationwide to come together as peers to navigate standards implementation.

The success of our students depends on our ability to facilitate the standards-implementation conversation."

Teacher learning communities are nothing new, but, in the context of the common core, they will open new doors and provide greater opportunity for interaction between educators who previously did not have a purpose or means for collaboration. With the common core new to everyone, discussing and establishing new practices will be crucial to student success, and the ideal platform for this national discussion is the online learning community.

Instant messaging, message boards, blogs, wikis, and social-networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook all have a place in the national common-core discussion. Additionally, learning-management systems, such as Blackboard and Moodle, give a defined space for all of these tools to come together. The possibilities for collaboration and conversation are endless, but here are some ideas to get started with online teacher learning communities focusing on the common core:

Synchronous collaboration. Synchronous tools such as instant messaging, chat rooms, videoconferencing, and Skype give teachers a chance to converse and collaborate in real time about standards and implementation. From chance encounters after a hard day in the classroom to arranged meetings with a group of peers in a common grade level or content area, synchronous collaboration provides the immediacy of a face-to-face conversation without the need for members to be in the same geographic location. Both formal and informal conversations will be meaningful for community members as the standards are implemented.

Message boards and online forums. Message boards and forums provide both ongoing and archived conversations for community members to contribute to and access at their convenience. Among other approaches, common-core message boards could be organized by content area, grade level, key features of the standards, or classroom strategies.

Blogs. Helping teachers share their experiences will be crucial to building a collective understanding of what common core looks like in the classroom. From administrators and legislators to teachers and parents, no one can predict the frustrations and successes that will accompany implementation. In sharing their attitudes and emotions about the process through blogging, teachers can guide a larger policy-and-practice conversation and ensure that no educator is left feeling isolated in uncharted waters.

BRIC ARCHIVE

Wikis. As definitions of common-core jargon are developed and clarified and new buzzwords pop up, wikis can provide a working space for stakeholders to share knowledge. Wikis are open online websites that allow their users to work as simultaneous co-authors and editors. Wiki pages usually read like encyclopedia entries, with the bonus of hyperlinks connecting to other relevant information. Wikis can be updated by anyone with an interest in the topic at hand.

Social networking. Type CCSS or Common Core State Standards into Twitter’s search field, and you’ll see just what a hot topic this is. From elementary teachers and college professors to organizations and publications, the common core has everyone tweeting. Even if a teacher is not ready to tweet about the standards, he or she can follow what others have to say to stay current on common-core news. And, they can retweet those updates they find particularly interesting.

Collaboration apps. Common-core implementation means the evolution of the grade-level collaboration meeting. Thanks to a variety of Web-based applications, even less tech-savvy educators can easily invite others into their common-core conversations. Tools such as Google Docs, Sync.in, and Zoho allow members to manage group collaboration more privately than with a wiki.

Learning-management systems. An LMS is the software that stores and enables online courses and training sessions. As professional-development modules are developed to support teachers in implementing the common core, these systems will play a part in their facilitation. There is an enormous need for timely, accessible professional learning related to the common core, and online courses—whether offered for credit or just personal growth—will allow teachers across the country to collaborate meaningfully. Chunking the common-core standards into manageable pieces that can be explored in online courses will be another way for online teacher learning communities to expand the conversation.

Through all these avenues and many more, online teacher learning communities can launch, support, and promote collaboration on the common core and more. The success of our students depends on our ability to facilitate the standards-implementation conversation. What better place to start than in online learning communities?

A version of this article appeared in the September 12, 2012 edition of Education Week as How Online Communities Can Ease the Common-Core Transition

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Webinar
Stronger Together: Integrating Social and Emotional Supports in an Equity-Based MTSS
Decades of research have shown that when schools implement evidence-based social and emotional supports and programming, academic achievement increases. The impact of these supports – particularly for students of color, students from low-income communities, English
Content provided by Illuminate Education
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Standards Social Studies Standards Spark Fierce Debate in N.C.
Advocates say the new standards are more inclusive because they give more attention to the perspectives of historically marginalized groups.
T. Keung Hui, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
6 min read
Illustration.
Kubkoo/iStock/Getty
Standards Opinion How the Failure of the Common Core Looked From the Ground
Steve Peha shares insights from his on-site professional-development work about why the common core failed, in a guest letter to Rick Hess.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Standards Opinion Common Core Is a Meal Kit, Not a Nothingburger
Caroline Damon argues Rick Hess and Tom Loveless sold the common core short, claiming the issue was a matter of high-quality implementation.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Standards How New Common Core Research Connects to Biden's Plans for Children and Families
A study of national test scores indicate the early phase of the Common Core State Standards did not help disadvantaged students.
5 min read
results 925693186 02
iStock/Getty