For the most part, I think my teaching is not that far from what Common Core expects. My expectations for students are high, my lessons are rigorous, and my class is student-centered. The other day, I began wondering what could I do to push myself and my students further in the direction of Common Core. I thought how could I put more ownership in my students’ hands, while still providing them support when they need it.
Rather than planning my lesson around a series of modeled examples, I decided to think how could I get the students to connect to their previous knowledge in order to accomplish a related task. I needed to figure out how to provide the support for students to problem-solve on their own without direct instruction. The lesson was on the basic operations of radicals. I knew that the students could relate basic operations of algebraic expressions to radicals. Knowing the connection, I created a two column worksheet putting the algebraic expressions next to the radicals.
Going into the lesson, I wondered if the students would be able to handle the lesson without some direct instruction. Some of my students struggle with independent learning. They are dependent on having someone close at their side to give confirmation and support. To my pleasant surprise, all of my students were successful with taking what they already knew and connecting it to new learning. All I needed to do was set the stage for learning.
As I continue to plan lessons as a Common Core teacher, I hope to continue leading my students toward more independent learning, in which they can begin to make connections without the structure already under their feet. I hope they can take those building blocks of prior learning and connect them to learn new skills and to form their own methods of finding solutions.