California Educator

April 2015

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by Kenji Hakuta A F E W Y E A R S A G O , I visited a middle school classroom in which a teacher introduced the day's lesson about rational and irrational numbers. When the teacher wrote the topic on the board, a student in the back of the classroom enthusiastically exclaimed, "It contains the word 'ratio.'" The teacher noted the comment, said "OK," and moved on with the lesson plan — a missed opportunity for deeper learning of both content and language. In focusing on learning that is "fewer and deeper and more connected," California's Common Core State Standards are changing how that teacher would respond today. These standards were written to prepare students to be "college and career ready." They do so in part by placing an explicit and implicit emphasis on language as it relates to contemporary life. That's what makes them especially important for our students who are immi- grants and children of families speaking languages other than English. This group makes up at least 40 percent of our state presently, and is growing. Many of these students are classified as English learners and fall under the scrutiny of the system Common Core brings language out of the shadows for their academic performance and their progress in learn- ing English. What's different now is that the new standards privilege how language is used. The new mathematics standards, for example, call for students "to under- stand the reasoning of others" when they discuss key mathematical concepts. How would this play out in classrooms? In the situation I described above, the teacher would have taken the opportunity to discuss what students think of this observation and gotten the class to deepen its understanding between ratio and the concept of number rationality. Guest column Perspectives 24 When you're ready to elevate student achievement. You are ready for American Public University. With more than 90 degrees to choose from, there's almost no end to what you can learn. Pursue a respected Education degree online — at a cost that's 33% less for graduate students than the average in-state rates at public universities.* Visit *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Digest of Education Statistics, 2011. We want you to make an informed decision about the university that's right for you. For more about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed each program, and other important information, visit 2014 ONLINE PROGRAMS BE ST BACHELOR'S

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