Common Core readiness was a key theme in the ASCD Conference exhibit hall

A number of companies showed products aimed at teaching students to think more deeply.

At the 69th annual ASCD conference in Los Angeles this past week, preparing for the Common Core was a common theme. In the conference exhibit hall, a number of companies showed products aimed at teaching students to think more deeply in order to meet the standards’ rigor.

A Virginia-based company called Mathalicious is trying to make math more engaging and relevant for students, using multimedia lessons that incorporate a real-world, inquiry-based approach. This approach fits nicely with the goals of the Common Core, challenging students to think critically about the world around them.

For example, in basketball, should you ever foul someone at the buzzer? Students use probabilities to determine when the defense should foul—and when they shouldn’t. Another lesson asks students: Who should buy health insurance? Using percents and expected value, students explore the math of health insurance from a variety of perspectives.

The Learning Institute, of Hot Springs, Ark., has released what it calls Core Guides. These are online “model instructional units” designed to help English language arts teachers integrate the Common Core standards into instruction.

Designed to cover about seven weeks of teaching, each Core Guide focuses on an anchor text, as well as several shorter, supporting texts. The Core Guides include formative and summative assessments, as well as a variety of activities that students can complete in the classroom and at home—all intended to have them engage more deeply with the texts.

Eighty Core Guides are available in all: four literary units and four nonfiction units for each grade level from three to 12. Literary units for grade four, for instance, include The Lightning Thief and The Trumpet of the Swan; nonfiction units include The Story of Sacajawea and Discovering Mars.

(Next page: A Common Core writing program; a professional learning program that teaches the ‘Essentials for Achieving Rigor’; and more)

Dennis Pierce

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