I get asked a lot about how making and tinkering can be integrated into classes in light of the Common Core. I think there are good answers to this, but it involves seeing the Common Core as something more than it is being portrayed in the media and in schools.
Simply, there are three parts to the Common Core – the overarching goals, the standards, and the assessments. I’m not going to go into great detail about each of these, but here is what I see happening in a lot of schools in each of these areas.
Assessment – Tremendous effort is being put into getting students ready to take the assessments and preparing the technology infrastructure to administer the tests.
Standards – New standards are driving changes to curriculum, but mostly in a rearrangement or rebranding of existing curriculum and classes.
Overarching goals – Very little is being done to address the goals of changing how and what we teach students by making it more relevant, more experiential, and requiring deeper dives instead of “covering” too many topics.
This is the problem I’m seeing – that assessment is the tail wagging the dog and taking the focus (not to mention money and time) away from changing classrooms for the better. So when we talk about how “making” can align with Common Core, it requires schools and districts to refocus on those overarching goals, and away from how many computers you need to run the tests. Unfortunately this is a conversation that is not taking place in many educational organizations.