Building a smarter computing culture in Fargo, ND
The CORE curriculum standards are published online at the Common Core Standards site. Much of their standards for the language arts seem to be okay, and I’m even moderately impressed with their definitions of technology and media usage:
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.
Yet, when you dig into the standards around writing and reading, the language in the standards do not become any more clear on how these strengths are developed. I know that standards simply address the foundational ideas which will serve as a foundation for a teacher’s plan for a class, but the extent to which the above computer literacy skills are defined for 4th & 5th graders can be found within the following standard:
W.5.6. With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.
Keyboarding skills. That’s about as challenging as it gets for computer literacy skills for 4th and 5th graders. I might be getting worked up over nothing here, but it just seems like there is so much more potential to be had than what has been provided as the standard. There seems to be a edugap here for Sugar to fill. (Sugar even has an awesome typing program, Typing Turtle!) Yet, from what we’ve experienced just in the last year at Madison, developing Sugar users takes time. It takes even more time to help the educators understand Sugar and what it can do for their curriculum. Currently, it works great as an aside, after school activity. Hopefully, Sugar can make its way into the curriculum this year vicariously through some of our Tech Teamers. 🙂
While this is a small critique of their standards surrounding computer literacy, I am more concerned about the overarching language surrounding CORE. Notably, the slogan “Preparing America’s Students for College & Career.” Is this necessary for K-5? I believe CORE’s faculties lie in its ability to build and develop skills from each previous year, but this language is (I think) rather indicative of the larger set of educational problems of teaching the answers versus teaching to learn, which is now alive and well within elementary school culture, too.
Okay, a little rant. But, I’ll think of it as some thoughts out on the table for discussion.