As a result, I'm feeling rather reflective.
Love it or hate it, the CCSS is here to stay, adopted by 46 states, and expected to be implemented for the 2014-15 school year.
Honestly, I'm still on the fence about the whole CCSS debate. The OCD side of me likes the idea of consistency and uniformity, but the rebellious side of me doesn't appreciate the government issuing mandates. And then I read Jacqui Murray's recent article about the 7 Ways Common Core Will Change Your Classroom, and I now kind of get it. Murray fairly and succinctly summarizes the expected major changes to the current curriculum, and I don't necessarily think these are bad things:
1. Depth over width
Fewer topics will be covered in greater detail.
2. Nonfiction over fiction
Expository writing and critical reading take precedence over inferential reading.
3. Evidence Is required
Regardless of the subject matter, students will be required to back-up their claims with clear and authentic evidence.
4. Speaking and listening
These two skills, necessary in college and employment, will be emphasized.
5. Technology is part of most/all standards
Collaborating, sharing, and publishing are real-life skills in our global community, and tech tools will be integral to all subject matter.
6. Life skills are emphasized across all subject areas
Critical thinking, writing, and cognitive processes will be performed--in every subject.
7. An increase in rigor
Students and teachers will be expected to dig deeper, to show more evidence of learning, and to create more authentic products of learning.
I believe most teachers (and parents) would agree that these seven pedagogic changes are not only necessary, but necessary in a very crucial way in 21st century education.
And that's what makes the workshop I attended today pretty timely. It addressed performance-based tasks & assessments--an approach to learning that covers all of the points listed in Murray's article.
What's so great about the application of PBT & PBA is that it provides for authentic outcomes, it involves collaboration, and it makes use of different learning styles. Instead of having students show what they know in a passive way (e.g., multiple choice tests), students show what they know in an active and engaging manner (e.g., podcasts).
Performance-based tasks aren't simply just "cool" and "fun" alternatives to tests--although they certainly can be cool and fun! They have proven outcomes clearly in line with the CCSS purpose to better prepare our students to require less prompting and scaffolding to show what they know.
Don't believe me? Take a good look at the "Cone of Learning" above.
I don't want to belabor the point about PBT & PBA; you can get a quick overview here. What most performance-based tasks have in common, though, is the use of collaboration through cooperative learning, and it's that on which I'd like to focus with some quick information to get you started.
With that said, here's the condensed version of the very best and the most useful of what I learned today--and even some stuff I found on my own:
Cooperative Learning Resources
- Achieve Texas - Classroom Best Practices for Cooperative Learning (Note: Scroll down to the "Roles and Responsibilities" heading)
- PIGS Faces - The Six Elements of Cooperative Learning Explained
- Prince George County Public Schools - A one-stop shop for cooperative learning
- Cooperative Learning - Cooperative Learning Methodologies (Note: Click "Further Methods" at the bottom of the page for more.)
- Cooperative Group Contract - Click the first link on the page to download the Word document
- Laura Candler - Teaching social skills for cooperative learning
- More Laura Candler - Team formation ideas
Cooperative Learning Assessment Tools
- Daily Teaching Tools - 7 Free PDF Assessment Instruments
- Starting Point - Provides pre-, during-, and post-excercise assessment suggestions
Finally, here's my very favorite resource of the day from iLearnOhio. I suggest you type "performance" in the keyword search engine before you choose the grade level and discipline. As for resource types, be sure to choose "lessons."
Of course, being from the Buckeye state myself, I'm unapologetically biased, but this resource from our neighbor to the south isn't so bad, either. :-)