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As an educator, I think that I’ve been looking at this from the wrong side of the lens. For years, I have been soap-boxing that we need to find out what business and college need our students to know and to teach it.

However, after posting and reading the comments here and on my Facebook page, I think we need to also look at the children. What do they already know? What, then, do they need from us to help them go forward?

My state and district have adopted the Common Core Standards which were developed to provide equity for our nation’s students and to prepare them for college and the workforce. http://www.corestandards.org/

There is one standard specifically related to the skill of using technology, and it’s under Writing: Production and Distribution of Writing progressing through each grade level, i.e., W.1.6 = Writing Grade 1; W.11-12.6 = Writing Grades 11-12. 

The standard is worded in general terms and teachers can create assessments and activities that specifically meet the needs of the kids, but will they? I do not think so, for a number of reasons, primarily because of assessments.

Teachers are hyper-focused on the skills that are tested on the high stakes assessments because their own evaluations and sometimes pay are linked to increasing students’  test scores, in the name of accountability. There is little time to play with the creative activities that spark enthusiasm and curiosity because they “aren’t on the test.”

This results in tedious lessons that redundantly cover the same skills presented five years before. The students react in boredom and misbehavior, and their skills regress rather than progress.

I wonder if our students might be more successful if we look at where they are now and show them how to move to the next step. While keeping our eyes on the standards, I think we should also look at the student herself.

Of course, that might necessitate a smaller teacher to student ratio, rather than the typical 150 students – 1 teacher. But that is a topic for another day.

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