The Riverside Unified School District is taking a collaborative approach in the transition to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by bringing together teachers from different levels and disciplines to serve as Common Core Ambassadors.  These ambassadors will work together to discuss ideas, and to provide input regarding district-wide implementation. We have our second meeting next month, and I am looking forward to the process.

Here at the Riverside Virtual School, the English and History Departments started this transition last year with the creation of blended, project-based, integrated middle school curriculum which incorporates both ELA standards and historical literacy. Currently, Dave Dillon, the RVS History Department Chair and I are working on 9th and 10th grade online courses, allowing for vertical articulation for grades 7-10 (eventually 7-11).

The CCSS have liberated us to do more authentic work, and in doing so, hone in on the three factors to consider in a purposeful and engaging educational environment – technology, curriculum, and people. Technology is a tool, but without the standards and theoretical framework guiding our work, the tools are not as powerful, or purposeful. We are able to collaborate across disciplines, providing that valuable, guiding framework that is so often missing, and leads to what we all hope for our students – whole student education, connection, engagement, rigor, and relevance. Not only is this extremely rewarding as an educator, but most importantly it has added value to the learning experience of our students.

7 Questions that I continue to struggle with as someone who has started this transition to CCSS process:

  1. Will we transition to CCSS without increasing standardization?
  2. Will we explore all that the CCSS have to offer while remaining flexible, allowing teachers to meet students where they are, and without making coursework prescribed and constraining for our students and teachers?
  3. Can we continue to create purposeful and engaging learning experiences for our students?
  4. Can we create opportunities for students to enjoy the learning process rather than simply see what they are doing at school as a series of hoops to jump through and credits to obtain?
  5. Can we ensure that the standards guide our work, rather than determine our work, keeping in mind that planning is more valuable than plans?
  6. Are we using technology successfully?
  7. How will we prepare students for ever-changing assessments?

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