A lot has been said about the Common Core State Standards. The state-led educational initiative is intended to help prepare students for college and for life outside the four walls of their campus. It is expected to equip students with the knowledge and skills that will help them succeed in college, in their chosen career, and in life.
Since one of the basic goals of the Common Core is to improve students’ performance in math and English, the two major components are Literacy in various studies, English Language Arts as well as Mathematics. The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts has four sections: reading, speaking & listening, language, and writing. The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, on the other hand, focus more on the Standards for Mathematical Practice.
While the Common Care has been generally helpful to students, there are still aspects that can be improved. For example, additional topics and modules can be created, particularly for the English Language Arts component. Basically, in this component, English is integrated with other disciplines like science and social studies. While this is already a good thing for both the students and teachers, adding several modules or topics to the standards can help make it more effective.
Modules or Topics That Can Be Added to the Common Core
1. Environmental Science
While the Common Core already focuses on science (integrated with English Language Arts), there is not a lot of attention given to environmental science. For example, in social studies and history, students can go to a certain historical building or monument and learn all that they can there. Why not do the same for environmental science? Since federal education funding is now available for environmental education, why not take advantage of it? Integrate more of environmental science into the Common Core. Take students out of the classrooms so they can learn more about how the environment works, and in the process, they’ll get a better understanding of why it is deeply important to take care of Mother Nature.
2. Technology Through Digital Literacy
While Standard 7 of the Common Core states that students must combine and assess the presented results in a diverse media and formats, this includes visual effects and in detail. There really is not a lot of evidence that digital literacy is practiced or allowed. Sure, teachers use “diverse media,” but these are usually the ones they are familiar with: magazines, books, and newspapers. Focusing on digital literacy helps students become technologically prepared, especially if they plan to work after graduating from high school. It is important to understand that there are two forms of digital reading: the one done offline through computers, laptops, tablets, and ebook readers; and the one done online. Online digital reading is a bit complicated because it involved search engines, keywords, and hyperlinks, among others. Integrating technology and digital reading with the Common Core will help prepare students for a technologically advanced future.
3. Health Education
Yes, students are already learning everything that they can about science. But health education is different. It is a discipline or topic focused mostly on the importance of good health, including information about proper diet and nutrition, physical activity and exercise, and basic information about certain illnesses. Once students are well-informed about the value of good health, they will be able to set out a plan for themselves, one that will help them achieve their health and fitness goals. Needless to say, proper health education is more than just knowing how to identify fruits and vegetables, or how to make good real health product comments. It is about opening the minds of the young to the reality that to create a good future, they need to take care of themselves.
4. Arts and Culture
Yes, the Common Core integrates humanities into the English component, but it does not really focus that much on arts and culture. While arts education is an essential part of the learning process, it is leaning more on art as a creative form. What is lacking here is a focus on arts and culture in general. Students can go out of the classroom to spend an afternoon at the park trying to paint whatever they want to. Or, they can go on a field trip to the museum to study the works of the masters. Likewise, they can research and then dramatize cultures of the early societies. All these will help students appreciate the contribution of arts and culture to society.