Common Core aims to change the way kids learn

Coursework focuses on understanding, less memorization

By Paul Giorgio - Producer

WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. - It's one of the biggest trending topics in education, and it's called Common Core.

Beginning next year all Florida public school children in kindergarten through twelfth grade will adopt new national learning standards. 

Common Core is a major shift in philosophy, stressing the importance of understanding concepts as opposed to simply memorizing facts. The end goal is to better prepare kids for college and the workplace.

Florida is one of 45 states to adopt the Common Core standards. This year kindergarten and first grade students began instituting the standards as part of their learning. 

First grade teacher Malinda Godinho began teaching with Common Core standards this year at Highlands Elementary in Winter Springs. She says Common Core allows her  more freedom to choose a variety of texts. What's important is the comprehension skills the kids learn from them. 

Local 6 sat in on her class where the actions of characters in story books were discussed in depth. The idea, if the kids can connect with the characters, they will understand the story better, setting a solid foundation for future reading comprehension across a variety of texts. 

"They are getting it," she said. "I do see a change. I like the fact that they take more ownership in the learning and I think if they take more ownership in their learning then they will remember it and they will use it and apply the standards we are teaching them." 

Some examples of common core curriculum include:

  • The ability to apply math to real wold situations.
  • Reading and comprehending more complex, informational text.
  • The ability to use sources to back up persuasive writing.
  • The use of math to solve problems that may not be presented as math problems.

Math skills are of particular importance. Common Core standards teach students to have a deep conceptual understanding in the primary grades.

Anna-Marie Cote, Deputy Superintendent for Instructional Excellence and Equity with Seminole County Schools, says the idea is to catch kids who don't understand a concept before they move on to more advanced learning.

"We are able to determine when students don't understand a concept and intervene very quickly so that they don't keep those misconceptions as they progress through advanced mathematics," she said.

Experts say students are not prepared for life after high school.

Nationwide it's reported that over a third of all students require remedial classes upon entering college. Dr. Joyce Romano, Vice President for Student Affairs at Valencia College says she sees many students who arrive with a diploma and who were very successful in high school yet they still must start below college level.  

Romano says building on skills at an early age and keeping kids on track is key to future success.

"Realizing that if you want someone when they graduate from high school to be able to read and write at college level and compute at the college level, it's a cumulative effect. I think it's the right approach," said Romano.  

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