The Common Core and Deeper Student Learning – Part 2

Common Core and Deeper Learning-brainDeeper Student Learning

Last month, we started talking about developing Deeper Student Learning opportunities. This month, we continue the conversation by exploring some Common Core-specific connections.

Research, Reasoning and Inquiry

In Part 1 of my Deeper Student Learning blog series, we explored what types of learning experiences build deeper learning for students. Now let’s turn our attention to an overview of the key skills each student should engage in when taking part in learning–skills that build “stickiness”.

The key actions students should take part in to build “stickiness”:

  1. Inquiry: Undertaking some type of investigation, problem solving or questioning activity
  2. Researching: Locating, processing, and analyzing information
  3. Reasoning: Using information to reach conclusions
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Deeper Learning2-BrainResearch, Reasoning and Inquiry & CCSS

The CCSS specifically addresses research, reasoning and inquiry in Writing Standards 7, 8, and 9. The Standards describe two types of activities that students can engage in when addressing research: reasoning and inquiry: long term research, which can be found most commonly in our classrooms, and short term research projects.

                “Historically, schools have concentrated on longer term, in-depth research—the infamous research report: five paragraphs (or more) on Mexico or kookaburras or some other subject. Studying a topic in depth requires students to think critically about it and sift through a great deal of information to synthesize the right details to support a thesis or opinion in their reports. Research projects, however, do not really mirror real-world research experiences. In our adult lives, most of us do “mini-research”—quick investigations focused on precise topics that take a few minutes to a day or two, from start to finish. For example, last week my refrigerator died. I spent a few hours online researching different brands on consumer websites, looking at features and reliability and comparing prices. Research done, I set off to “present my information” to the salesperson to purchase my new appliance. Similarly, in the workplace, we often are called upon to research a topic and share our findings quickly with the boss or our team. The Common Core standards recognize that we need to prepare our students for these brief research opportunities as well as for longer, more developed projects. This means many more opportunities for students to ask questions, research a few sources, and share what they learned (formally or informally). In fact, new assessments for the Standards will require students to complete a small research project, reading several texts and writing an essay.”

Burke, Beth. Inquiry & Research, Common Core Style

So, to summarize, the CCSS ask that teachers create tasks that both engage students in long term research projects as well as short, problem solving activities. Here are the main differences between the two tasks:

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Implications for Shifting to an Inquiry Approach

What should teachers do differently in their classrooms in order for students to engage in the CCSS’ deeper learning expectations?

The CCSS and SBAC require instructional shifts in the classroom in order to meet the increased deeper learning demands placed on students. The following represents some of the instructional shifts in the area of research, inquiry and writing:

Instructional Implications
  • Present opportunities to write from multiple sources about a single topic
  • Provide opportunities for students to synthesize and analyze ideas and concepts across many texts in order to draw an opinion or conclusion
  • Use mentor texts to teach text features and structures and apply them to writing
  • Model expectations for writing; use rubrics and student work to help students learn how to self-evaluate
  • Develop reading, writing, language, listening and speaking through short, focused research projects
  • Provide time for collaboration to discuss findings
  • Teach note taking in order to assist with the development of coherent bodies of writing

How should administrators assist teachers in making these shifts?

Administrative Implications
  • Provide professional development and collaborative planning opportunities around opinion (K-5) and argumentation (6-12), informational, and narrative writing
  • Provide collaborative planning for teachers to discuss expectations in students’ writing
  • Provide professional development and classroom resources for short, focused research projects
  • Look for students’ use of rubrics and work samples while self-evaluating and engaging in peer/teacher conferences
  • Look for students synthesizing, analyzing and writing about information from multiple texts
  • Look for students who are collaborating and excited about writing

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