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Common Core State Standards Broaden Authentic Learning

Common Core State Standards are designed to “be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.” (source)

But what, exactly, does that mean? And fundamentally, how is that different than what traditional public education aimed to do?

Today we’ll talk about what “authentic learning” is, why it helps prepare students for life after high school, and what the Common Core State Standards are doing to broaden authentic learning in our schools.

What Is Authentic Learning?
Authentic learning encourages students to explore problems across multiple disciplines. With an emphasis on higher order thinking skills, authentic learning moves beyond the memorization of facts, pushing students to gain a deeper understanding of ideas and information. Authentic learning allows students discover information and answers rather than simply being told what the answers are.

Preparing Students For Life After High School
Unlike traditional rote learning, authentic learning teaches students the critical thinking and problem solving skills that are valued by universities and employers.

The Microsoft Partners in Learning blog says that authentic learning “…is based in ‘real’ problems, learning by ‘doing’, and learning that is social. These are all elements of on–the-job learning that are hallmarks of modern careers…” (source)

What Is Common Core Doing to Broaden Authentic Learning?
Expectations are high in the Common Core. Students are expected to demonstrate independence, to build strong knowledge in specific content areas, and to be able to explain or provide evidence for how they came to conclusions or solutions.

They are expected to adapt their communications to their audiences, tasks, purposes and disciplines, and they’re also expected to understand and appreciate other perspectives and cultures.

And yet, the standards are not a curriculum. While the CCSS articulate what students should be able to do at each stage in their academic development, they don’t tell teachers how to teach. This flexibility allows teachers to incorporate their own strategies into content-area curriculums. When teachers have that freedom, authentic learning is a natural outcome.

As a literature teacher at the Riverside Virtual School in Riverside, California said, “If you are designing real and engaging learning experiences for your students, then you are probably already teaching the Common Core Standards.” (source)

Missouri is one of 46 states and the District of Columbia to adopt the Common Core State Standards. You can learn more about the Common Core Standards by reading these posts on the Missouri Parent Blog:

How Does Common Core Affect Your Kids? There’s an App for That
Common Core Standards: Not a Federal Initiative
Teaching is the Core of Common Core

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