High Standards: The Best Thing to Happen to Education in a Long Time!
By Lisa Bass, M.Ed., NBCT
I remember hearing about new standards that were coming down the road and feeling anxious! What were these new standards? Are they different from the standards we were presently teaching? I like the present standard! Why do things need to change? Well once I traveled to Columbus and learned about the New Common Core Standards that would be adopted in the near future, my heart began to race with excitement and joy!
I love high standards and so do my students! There are so many reasons why I love higher standards that I could go on and on for hours. Standards are not a curriculum, they are guidelines. High standards do not mean we are teaching first graders to act like high school seniors! Yet, we expect first graders to extend their minds and think creatively, just like they have always done through imaginative play with their toys.Highlighting the exceptional learning that takes place in my first grade classroom is the best way to communicate the positive attributes of high learning standards. My first grade students love to learn and the high standards challenge their little, adapting, growing minds to think beyond the tangible and extend into their creative minds, a bit like scientists who are excited to test a hypothesis.
High standards differentiate between fact and fiction. Students learn what it is like to use their imagination, as Hollywood movies take them to this chapter. They learn, through fiction, to imagine they are characters in the story and create new story endings, create new ideas and thoughts for the characters, present their new concepts to their peers, and excite each other through vivid descriptions and imaginary thoughts. They “play” through character traits as they act out stories and role-play silly ideas. Non-fiction stresses the history and real concepts that students sometimes don’t learn in their home lives. Students learn through non-fiction texts and enjoy comparing and contrasting their old ideas to real ideas. They enjoy sharing new concepts with family and friends as they feel like “smart” little readers who understand so much in the real world. Looking back to the old standards, makes me sad that past students weren’t all stretched to use their thinking skills as much!
Math standards are not simple, for they challenge every learner to think beyond 2+2 and process various strategies that can be used to solve a simple equation like 2+2=4. Students think in groups of 10’s, using fun manipulative objects like base-10 blocks and 10’s frames to visualize the new concepts. No, it is not the simple rote-memory technique that many of us learned when we were in grade-school. It is better, more fun, more creative, more challenging, and, thus, more exciting to extend our thinking beyond simple, boring memorization. The higher standards offer gifts of joy to our students, who are lucky to learn in the contemporary classrooms.
Higher standards are the best thing to happen to education. I love when my students explain why they know something and how they processed the information. Little first graders love to play “mini-teacher,” which is how they explain the process they used to come to a learning conclusion. Students know they are learning, but are having so much fun learning the higher standards that they love school! I hope higher standards are here forever!