Monday, November 18, 2013

All in the name of the Common Core…

One of the things I criticized the Common Core Standards for in my earlier post was for how it has engendered “a label that lends legitimacy to all sorts of wrong-headed educational ventures.” These include the “Common Core Technology Project,” the name the LA Unified School District had given to its iPad Iniative.

The Common Core Technology Project is a software program designed by that edu-publishing behemoth, Pearson, that, according to a recent article in Edweek, 

will eventually consist of between 145 and 150 lessons per subject and grade, organized by units and building sequentially year to year.
Its special features?
Designed specifically for tablet computers, the lessons make heavy use of videos, games, and interactive elements and focus on engaging students in solving problems. The final software will include assessments, supplemental materials for students of different skill levels, and tools for taking notes and annotating texts.
Just what we need more of: videos, games, writing crutches, and assessments. Interactive elements sounds nice, but automated interactivity, at the moment, is still highly limited pedagogically and of unproven pedagogical value.

But that’s not stopping the juggernaut:
Pearson’s Common Core System of Courses, meant to eventually become the district’s primary instructional resource in both math and English/language arts for kindergarten through 12th grade, currently consists of just a few sample lessons per grade, resulting in widespread frustration and confusion among classroom teachers.  
Despite the questions about the project’s implementation, education technology advocates say that taking a comprehensive approach to integrating hardware and software makes sense. Officials from Pearson, a London-based company with headquarters in New York City, agree.  
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do for kids in this country what high-performing countries have been doing for their kids for a long time,” said Judy Codding, a managing director at the company who is overseeing development of the new curriculum from her base in Los Angeles.
No, sorry, that’s not what high-performing countries have been doing for their kids for a long time. And, interestingly, as I reported earlier, it’s not what many of our country’s hardware and software experts are choosing for their own kids either. But if the folks at Apple and Pearson can talk the people who make decisions about other people’s kids into buying their products, then a question arises that I intend both rhetorically and sincerely: Who cares?


lgm said...

If the students are going to learn, they have to have the correct info. SO, either the incompetent teachers have to be removed, or the students get the info from another source.

This method also lets the fully included classroom exist since differentiation is available.

I didn't have a tablet when I was in grade 5, but I did have cards to put in a machine, and a window to read the questions from, then uncover the answer. Meanwhile teacher could circulate, and all had the opportunity to learn something new.

Katharine Beals said...

The correct info can come from a variety of sources, including books, and, as you mention, card that can be inserted into simple machines. Differentiation can happen even in old-fashioned one-room school houses!

On the other hand, the Panopticon that the technology-enabled classroom is turning into will allow teachers to ensure that students are doing what they, the teachers, think they should be doing, rather than what they, the students, are actually capable of doing.