Common Core Standards

Tiscornia, Chole’

Common Core Standards. (2010). Common Core State Standards Initiative [website]. Retrieved from:

The Common Core Mission Statement is as follows:
The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.
This website has information about Common Core Standards, who was involved with developing them, and what the standards are. Additional topics found in the About Common Core section include key points in English language arts, key points in mathematics, process, statements of supports, myths vs. facts, presentations, and in the states. According to the In the States section, 45 of our 50 states have already adopted Common Core Standards.

Many of the topics are available in downloadable pdf formats in the Resources section. Viewers may download the entire standards that include grade level standards for English and Math from the middle ribbon on the Homepage.

Inquiry Takes Time

Tiscornia, Chole’

Baxter, J., Ruzicka, A., & Blackwell, S. (2012). Inquiry Takes Time. Science & Children, 50(1), 42-47.
This article provides a useful analysis of inquiry & problem-based learning for third graders in a science class. The article gives details of three separate assignments that help build students’ ability to obtain inquiry-based learning. The assignments cover an entire year and are separated in quarters (fall, winter, and spring).

The first step is structured inquiry which starts in the fall and asks students to observe, describe, and categorize features of different rocks and minerals. The next assignment, in the winter, asks students to explore electricity through conducting an investigation into the likelihood that using a battery, bulb, and wire could result in lighting a bulb. Students start to build more inquire based questions by posing questions needed to complete the assignment, like “What does the wire need to touch?” Another assignment during the winter moved towards open inquiry and it involved bubble wrap.

The final spring project was on the life cycle of Wisconsin Fast Plants. Students began with open-inquiry questions which drove their group projects. In this phase of learning, students were to compare outcomes using controlled variables. The project had students plant their own seeds in Styrofoam cups and report their findings based on their chosen inquiry (like, does water effect how high a plant will grow?)

The article reflects the need for students to use a serious of steps (scaffolding) to reach the desired learning outcome, which in this case was to be able to complete an inquiry-based learning assignment. Students started with mere observation (rocks and minerals), moved onto guided-learning inquiry (will a battery, wire, bulb actually light a bulb?), to the development of independent questions that provided the impetus for the assignment. This type of learning helps to achieve the needed critical thinking skills of the 21st century learner and proves to be a very positive approach. Assignments engaged the students to which led to higher order inquiry based learning. 
Very good and concise outline to help  students acquire inquiry-based learning skills.  

Sir Ken Robinson: Changing education paradigms. [ YouTube video]

Dunlap, Monique
RSA Animate. (2010, October 14). Sir Ken Robinson: Changing education paradigms. [Web]. Retrieved from

Sir Ken Robinson discusses the reasons for reforming public education and why we can’t look to the past to reform education for the future.

This video is very helpful in explaining why it’s so difficult to tackle the problem of public education reform to people outside of the teaching profession. 

Making Sure They Are Learning

Campbell, Margaret (webpage and video via Jennifer Gulassa and Dr. Loertscher)

Dr. Loertscher’s discussion question:
When students in our units are doing inquiry, what would you be doing alongside this teacher?

Sticky notes facilitate high-level analytical thinking in Sarah Kaufman’s 6th grade humanities class. The teacher uses the notes to help students break down complex ideas or projects into manageable pieces that help students learn to master challenging assignments.

Retrieved from

The process allows for ongoing formative assessment throughout assignments, flexible differentiated instruction, and for learners to start within their own “comfortable learning zone” (ZPD in socio-cultural learning theory – Vygotsky), so that they have a chance to gain confidence and competence step-by-step (constructivism).

Lucidchart for Mind-Mapping and Diagramming

Campbell, Margaret

Lucidchart diagramming tools [Online computer software]. Retrieved from

Capture and organize ideas during meetings, planning, and brainstorming sessions with the Lucidchart collaborative mind mapping software and diagramming tools.

Lucidchart is a free online whiteboard, with a large choice of tools, pre-designed symbols, and output choices to support many types of projects.