Thursday, January 31, 2013

1,500 Indicators for the Common Core Is Like Playing the Penny Slots

Casino Royale
I grew up living with my grandmother. Fondly called "G-ma" by me and my friends, my grandmother was notorious for offering all kinds of inappropriate advice about boys, bikinis, and blonde highlights.

However, there was one topic on which she was truly a master: penny slots.

Although my grandmother frequented the casinos in Atlantic City, she would never, ever (ever!) play the penny slots. If my grandmother even heard a rumor about someone else playing penny slots, she would hang her head in deep despair and shame.

Her reasoning was this: "If you break something into such tiny pieces, how can you ever amass anything worth actually winning?"

I was recently reminded of her advice as I cruised the web for resources with the Common Core Standards. Several different vendors and curriculum companies are offering their "broken down" versions of the standards. Some of these products actually boast between 1,500 and 1,800 learning targets. 


If you break down the standards into such tiny pieces, how will you ever reach complex performance in your classroom? 

Skill + Skill + Skill ≠ Complex Performance

Mastery of isolated skills does not always equal complex performance. Often, skills learned in isolation are forgotten or remain unused when messy problems arise.

Instead of tiny skills, use broad competencies to organize your learning goals and curriculum. This will help you to provide students with lots of opportunities to use lots of different skills and knowledge at the same time. 

Isn't this: Argue your position by using compelling facts from compelling sources.

Better than this?: Identify the topic of the paragraph.

Don't turn the Common Core Standards into a trip to the penny slots. My grandmother would disapprove.

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