Build a Strong and Successful Common Core Classroom

For many educators, the 2013-2014 school year may reflect a shift in teaching methods from previous years as a result of the implementation of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics. Whether you are implementing the standards this year or next, even the most seasoned teacher may wonder what changes and challenges will arise with these new, rigorous standards.

The good news is that many of the key concepts found in the Common Core are skills that are quite familiar; however, the way you approach these concepts and the way students are asked to think about them may be different. As students master skills in accordance with the ELA and Math standards, you can ensure they are prepared for success by teaching them how to communicate their answers, work with others, and become critical thinkers.

Explain and Justify. Students are not only expected to answer a problem, but they are also expected to explain and demonstrate how they found the solution. Hands-on products offer students the ability to visually represent and justify how they found their answer. As you look for products to support the Common Core, you will want to make sure that the resources you provide to your students offer them the opportunity to accomplish this task. Not only will the Common Core State Standards Kits for ELA and Math help students solidify abstract concepts and present their findings, the products in each of these kits cover all of the domains found in Common Core and many support multiple standards.

Collaborate. The standards encourage students to collaborate in groups of all sizes and learn from other perspectives. Students are encouraged to question one another to get more information on a topic, build on one another's conversations, and work together to solve problems. As students begin to develop these skills, use products like the Speaker's Box, to help students learn to ask questions and listen to their classmates points of view.

Think Critically. Students need to become independent and critical thinkers. As students develop critical thinking skills, they learn to gather and analyze the information that is around them with confidence. In order to help students achieve this, teachers must learn to ask questions that make students contemplate and think deeper. Look for products like Snapshots™ Critical Thinking Photo Cards, which provide teachers with these higher level questions that encourage students to use their previous knowledge and assess new information that is being presented.

However you plan on integrating the new standards into your teaching, remember that these three themes are a crucial part to a successful Common Core classroom–and will prepare students for a lifetime of achievement in both college and career.