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Common Core, technology will elevate school learning

By Jonathan Gillentine


Student performance continues to propel the conversation on what Americans think is wrong with our nation's public education system. As teachers, it's our responsibility to evaluate current educational practices and to determine how to enhance student achievement while better preparing students for college, careers and citizenship.

I recently attended the NBC News Education Nation Summit in New York City as an America Achieves Fellow. This four-day summit gathered outstanding educators and policy makers from across the country to discuss the state of education in America.

While there were a variety of opinions about how best to address and improve upon the perceived failings of the current system, I grew hopeful for positive change due to the emphasis on Common Core State Standards and technology as assets to individualization and innovation in the classroom.

Currently adopted by 45 U.S. states and three territories, the standards provide a consistent and clear understanding of what students are expected to learn so that teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. It is quickly becoming the focal point for changing how we think about teaching and learning.

As we strive to bring a world-class education to America's students, the use of technology is an important step toward improving teaching strategies that result in enhancing students' performance. While I do not believe that teaching should mimic technology, I do believe that technology is a critical educational asset that offers teachers more ways to engage learners across performance levels. Technology is already showing us that learning can be limitless and that it can be customized to meet the needs of individual learners.

One of the first tangible tools toward implementing Common Core State Standards is the launch of the America Achieves Common Core website. This tool demonstrates for the more than 13,000 educators in Hawaii how to make the shift to these new college- and career-ready standards in math and literacy. The website was created by teachers for teachers and includes editable lesson plans, teacher lesson videos, quality instructional resources and other guidance.

Another example of technology as a catalyst for groundbreaking and collaborative thinking was the introduction at Education Nation of a new technology called Pathbrite.com. This is a digital system that allows students to create personal digital portfolios that highlight their creativity, engagement in the community, and other growth areas for which there are no tests.

This technology tool resonated strongly with me. As a preschool teacher of children with developmental delays, I do not administer achievement tests regularly as research has shown that these tests are not valid for these young learners. What I document to show growth is how young children are learning to express their ideas through drawing before they can write, how they express themselves with oral language, how they engage with their peers, and how they express themselves as scientists and artists. Incorporating new technology like Pathbrite in my classroom would enable me to even better pinpoint specific weak areas of learning for each individual learner by using these individual portfolios.

To move our schools and students to global excellence, teachers must be encouraged to adopt the Common Core State Standards, innovate their teaching within the classroom, and possess the technology tools they need to best meet each student's individual learning needs. The only way to evolve our educational platform is to invest in both our teachers and the technology tools that will support them.

Returning from Education Nation, I have a renewed sense of how the knowledge I gained can help guide further conversations about teaching and learning. And, how as a community, we can leverage policy, practice and leadership to build high-quality educational systems in which students can thrive.

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Mythman wrote:
Workshop Way
on October 31,2012 | 05:16AM
false wrote:
Some of us live everyday to deliver Standards Based instruction Common Core or State. It's the way we measure student achievement. The DOE, federal or state, have a language to drive publishers' economic growth. Relevance and Rigor don't come up by themselves overnight. Teachers have to filter every event/instructional source to meet the standards and relevance and rigor required for Common Core. The challenges follow us around like a never dying ghost. The data we use daily, weekly and quarterly determines how our students from least able to most able are holding up and holding on. We have fabulous trainers to polish our delivery. If only we were not in a state that doesn't regard our talent and passion. LBO was a tsunami all of its own renown.
on October 31,2012 | 06:03AM
Weisun wrote:
Twenty-five years in public education and I have never seen or heard of the DOE providing inservice opportunities for teachers to use technology for instruction. Common core standards are the latest rage among policy makers and pundits, but where are the opportunities provided for learners who do not read at grade level, or even worse, cannot read for meaning? Each school needs both the flexibility and resources to provide for the needs of learners as determined by teachers; and opportunities are needed for teachers to learn new technologies. However, these are not principles in the politicized fad of education reform.
on October 31,2012 | 05:36AM
thos wrote:
Standards Schmandards. What a load of hooey. Remember way back when former Supe LeMahieu promised that his then brand new "standards" would not be subject to veteran teacher belief that "this too shall pass". He even went so far as to say "It's not FAIR for teachers to have to shoot at a moving target so THESE standards will stay in place". Then of course we went from Hiccups ONE (the HCPS "blue book") through to Hiccups THREE in less than half a decade after which a kaleidoscope of "benchmarks" were rolled out, unwrapped, you name it ad nauseum. But keep in mind at NO time did DOE EVER relent from its REFUSAL to establish academic curricula for ANY subject at ANY grade level. And according to Article XIII of their contract ("Academic Freedom") they did not have as a condition of employment a requirement to deliver ANY curriculum. Absent a mandated curriculum as a condition of employment, teaching amid such chaos is like playing tennis without a net. So NOW we are supposed to get peckish all over because of a NEW set of "standards"? PUHLEEEEEZE.
on October 31,2012 | 06:39AM
thos wrote:
Couple that with the fact that DOE is about to do away with textbooks altogether and give each kid either a tablet or laptop computer instead. Doubt that? Check out: http://www.staradvertiser.com/editorialspremium/20121026_A_computer_for_each_pupil_pencils_out_in_digital_age.html and http://www.staradvertiser.com/newspremium/20121024__DOE_plan_would_give_all_pupil_computer.html There was once a time when a student was expected to learn how to become an independent learner, one willing to take up a reference text and actually READ it and then APPLY what he or she learned. Now you would have to dig a trench to find "the bar of excellence". The political purpose and intent of DOE is clear: separate the sheep from as much of their money by confiscatory taxing and dumb their kids down so far that they will reflexively vote "Democrat" in election after election. BAH HUMBUG!
on October 31,2012 | 06:46AM
kaiakea wrote:
While I agree with many things in this submission, I find it unfortunate that the role of teaching is the only thing in focus. As a teacher of our students with special needs since the early 90s, I think that while the desire to teach is important, just as important is the desire to learn. I have found this one component will make or break the education of ANY student. The dedication of teachers, the hard work of administrators and parents, and all the technology in the world will fail if the student does not have an appropriate work ethic that will enable him or her to take advantage of the opportunities presented. More and more I am convinced that this is primary in the education of Hawaii's children.
on October 31,2012 | 05:47PM
Anonymous wrote:
TESA means Teacher Expectation -----> Student Achievement. A cause and effect relationship. Or as a friend of mine once put it rather indelicately "The horse you lead to water may not wish to drink, but by forcing his head underwater and applying suction to his rear end you can at least get his mouth wet"
on November 1,2012 | 01:38AM
inHilo wrote:
Unfortunately, your analogy describes exactly how some people think about education: If you can't force it down their throats, why not try the other end too? Maybe we should be asking why the horse doesn't want to drink? If education is like water, something students need to survive, then why won't they drink? In some cases, it may be that it isn't like water, and not all students need it.
on November 2,2012 | 06:41AM
Anonymous wrote:
Some students think education is a waste of time because they have personal contact with someone (older sibling, auntie, parent, grandparent, &c.) who had little or no education and has managed to survive on government hand outs of various kinds. What these kids don't realize is that the welfare stream is drying up to the point that if they cannot get a job they will learn the cruel truth that those who don't work, don't eat. It falls to the teacher to make a convincing case that education IS important and worth the expenditure of student sweat equity ... often a very challenging bit of work.
on November 2,2012 | 12:33PM
false wrote:
Teaching is a lot more like Letterman and Leno. It requires deep content knowledge and the talent to engage students on several levels of modality to put the instruction together in a delivery that makes integrated connections. Teachers have to be as inspiring as the next app for an Ipad.
on November 3,2012 | 05:42AM
Weisun wrote:
The call for inspiration ignores the fact that inspiration cannot be taught. And for teachers who are inspirational, the accouterments of common core standards will drive them out the profession. Specifically consider the requirements of data collection. This newspaper should publish the data collection sheet required for use by data teams. The data madness will drive out inspiration in the teaching profession as teachers are not statisticians, yet part of RTTT has for its goal the creation of statistical discourse as the primary language for teaching. If teachers really care about children, they will refuse to kneel before Data Collection and say no, I will not participate in this madness. If administrators really care about children, they will refuse to kneel before Data Collection. And if policy makers really care about children, they would refuse to participate in NCLB. If the public will really cares about children, it would cry out for voluntary education and school level flexibility to meet the education needs of Hawaii's children. Under NCLB and RTTT, Hawaii is destroying the collective mind of its future.
on November 3,2012 | 07:30AM
Weisun wrote:
So when will I know if my comments have been approved?
on November 3,2012 | 07:31AM
Weisun wrote:
I want my comments back!
on November 3,2012 | 07:37AM
Glassy_eye wrote:
Please Lord, deliver us from this psycho-babble. We all remember wonderful teachers and they never sounded like this.
on May 22,2014 | 09:14AM
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