The skills and knowledge needed to be successful today are different from those needed 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. As the global marketplace rapidly evolves, the landscape of education must also evolve to effectively prepare students for a rapidly changing global economy.
This focus on preparing students for a global economy will require changes in the way teachers teach and students learn, as well as how technology is leveraged— both inside and outside of the classroom.
The Common Core Standards have not provided a separate set of technology standards, but recognize that “Just as media and technology are integrated in school and life in the twenty-first century, skills related to media use (both critical analysis and production of media) are integrated throughout the standards.”
To ensure that today’s students are “college and career ready,” early technology integration is essential. Students must be able to use technology strategically to communicate, collaborate and problem solve with others. The good news for educators is that technology also makes it possible to teach multiple standards simultaneously and open the door for engagement beyond the physical classroom.
The Common Core State Standards seeks to develop students who:
- Demonstrate independence
- Evaluate complex texts
- Possess strong content knowledge
- Communicate effectively
- Comprehend and critique
- Locate and use evidence effectively
- Feel confident solving real world problems
- Understand other perspectives and cultures
- Apply their existing knowledge to new situations
- Use technology and digital media strategically and capably
These skills have been identified as crucial to student success beyond high school. Given the proliferation of technology in our global economy, the Standards stress the importance of knowing how to use technology to both better understand the content being taught and demonstrate competency in these subjects.
Teachers looking to integrate technology to support students in developing these key attributes should explore Web 2.0 tools that can be used to complement the work they already do in the classroom. To be sustainable, technology integration should replace and improve what teachers already do, not add to their already overwhelming workloads.
These are three of my favorite free technology tools to teach the Common Core Standards:
Collaborize Classroom is an online discussion platform with a variety of question types that can be used to structure dynamic discussions. It has reporting capabilities for quick grading and any discussion can be published to the Results Page so teachers can see concrete outcomes of conversations, debates and voting. Collaborize Classroom makes it easy to teach argument writing, which is prioritized in the standards, and support students in learning how to communicate and collaborate effectively with their peers using the Internet.
Diigo is a free online research, note-taking and annotation tool. Students can read articles online, insert virtual post-it notes to annotate the text, bookmark, highlight and easily share their notes with others. Diigo makes it possible to teach students how to effectively manage digital resources, connect students to informational texts and address the reading standards.
Google Docs is the perfect tool to produce, share and collaborate on written work. The Common Core Standards emphasize literacy throughout. Teachers in any discipline can use Google Docs’ sharing functionality to support writing, editing and revising across the curriculum.
These are just a few of the myriad tools available that can help educators to creatively teach the Common Core while increasing engagement and fostering collaboration.