The Common Core State Standards are intended to help students prepare for college and the working world, wherein they must think critically and apply the skills they learn in the classroom to a variety of real-world scenarios. The “buzz” about the standards is that they go much deeper into all math and English-language arts areas and emphasize comprehension and building understanding more so than rote memorization. The standards are meant to strengthen students’ ability to think, analyze, comprehend, defend and support one’s ideas, and much more. According to the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, the Common Core State Standards weave such aptitudes throughout the standards. Here are a few examples:
Reading comprehension is top of mind at all levels. As students read a variety of texts—both literature and nonfiction—they will be expected to make logical inferences, express their insights, explore ideas, and think about topics from many different viewpoints, among other objectives.
Through speaking and listening (and through media), students must assess and offer complex information and ideas. The classroom will focus on smaller group discussions as well as one-on-one discussions as a way to encourage students to think critically, work together to develop ideas and answer questions, and more.
Students are expected to write thoughtful, logical arguments, express their opinions, reason, and conduct focused and in-depth research.
A huge part of 21st-century learning is knowing how to use, critically analyze and produce media and technology. Technology and media are woven throughout the standards—from teaching students to present ideas and knowledge in various media formats to using technology to develop mathematical models that link classroom math to everyday decision making.
High school students will be expected to apply mathematical ways of thinking to real-world issues and challenges and think and reason their way through math problems. The elementary and middle school standards help prepare students for this type of thinking.
There are many things you can do to help your student build his or her critical thinking skills, thereby equipping him or her for the curricular changes resulting from Common Core. Here are a few simple ideas to help your student engage in critical thinking each and every day.
Critical thinking is an important life skill that is now becoming a focal point in math and English-language arts curriculum. Talk with your child’s teacher about how you can support his or her development of such higher order thinking abilities. Also, throughout your child’s daily life, encourage him or her to think, reflect, make decisions and develop opinions.