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I’ve got this discussion enough that it is time I submitted it. For most educators, the Iowa Core Curriculum results in as more confusing than it really is. Partly, that is because of issues with a roll-out, and another part credited to questions about mandates and timelines. With non-educators (and many educators would openly admit, with them too), there is much jargon that results in as fluff too, the eduspeak of these of us who’ve worked in education for a long period. But at its heart, the Iowa Core Curriculum is simple really.

Its really solid. And, there’s little discussion about it, even though there is consensus we could do a better job on these things. 1. We must be changing always. Because, the world is always changing. And we have tended to say that we’re pretty good at what we should do, which can create complacency.

Eduspeak phone calls this the culture of continuous improvement, but fundamentally it means we can’t relax on our laurels. We have a process where we progress, heading on a regular basis. 2. Change has to be based on data. We can not make changes Willy nilly. We must seek data so that we can make a good decision. And most significantly, we must know what kinds of data we seek.

It isn’t always the ITEDs. Actually, it usually shouldn’t be. 3. We show what we should be teaching. The word trashed is position. The Iowa Core gives us essential skills and concepts for students to master. The nagging problem is, a district’s standards and benchmarks are different than what actually continues on in their classrooms.

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We need to really look inside our classrooms and determine what is actually trained, what is “covered”, and what is assumed to be covered by a different quality level. 4. We’ve good training and assessment whenever we teach, and we realize what that means. The Iowa Core recognizes 5 characteristics of effective teaching. But here even, there is not anything magical about these terms. They refer to teaching that is constructivist in learning. Deep learning. Less topics, higher-order thinking. More focus on analysis and creativity, less on rote memorization. Ongoing feedback, students driving the training.

Authentic learning conditions, activities in real life. And differentiation around a student’s skills, interests, and prior knowledge. Iowa Core isn’t new here. What’s key is calibration. Possibly the biggest of buzzwords with the Iowa Core — 21st hundred years skills — are actually popular. Rather, they must be the lens by which we look at all that people do.