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Common Core: Preparing Globally Competent Citizens, Part 2

Margaret Reed Millar from the Council of Chief State School Officers continues her exploratory essay on ways the Common Core State Standards dovetail with global competence. Be sure to see the first part posted on Friday.

by Margaret Reed Millar

The adoption of new and rigorous college- and career-ready standards creates an historic opportunity for schools, districts, and states across the nation to rethink the curriculum.

As the introduction to the English language arts Standards notes, "by emphasizing required achievements, the Standards leave room for teachers, curriculum developers, and states to determine how those goals should be reached and what additional topics should be addressed."

The time is now for schools and local communities to use the flexibility and opportunity the CCSS provide to consider instruction and curriculum that incorporates global competence into the preparation of college- and career-ready students. On Friday, I shared ways that the CCSS allow students to investigate the world and to weigh perspectives. Today, I'll share ways students can communicate ideas and take action, and how these skills are supported by the new Standards.

Communicate Ideas
Globally competent students communicate their ideas effectively with diverse audiences.

The Common Core State Standards for English language arts document is replete with standards and statements that call for students to develop effective communication skills—in writing, in the creation of media, and in speaking and listening, both formally and informally. For example, one of the key features describing the Standards for Speaking and Listening is "flexible communication and collaboration," noting that the Standards "require students to develop a range of broadly useful oral communication and interpersonal skills. Students must learn to work together, express and listen carefully to ideas, integrate information from oral, visual, quantitative, and media sources, evaluate what they hear, use media and visual displays strategically to help achieve communicative purposes, and adapt speech to context and task." As another example, the fourth College and Career Readiness Standard for Writing asks students to "Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience."

Likewise, the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics require students to develop effective communications. For example, the third Standard for Mathematical Practice asks students to "Construct viable arguments" and "communicate them to others."

The expectations for effective communications set forth in the Common Core State Standards are shared by the Communicate Ideas column of the global competence matrix, which sets the expectation that students will "communicate their ideas effectively with diverse audiences."

Where the matrix expands upon the CCSS is in the expectations that students will "recognize and express how diverse audiences may perceive different meanings from the same information" and "reflect on how effective communication affects understanding and collaboration." Educators wishing to extend the curriculum to incorporate opportunities to build global competence in communications while maintaining alignment to the Standards may wish to facilitate discussions on how the same message can be understood differently by different individuals and groups, and ask students to reflect—either in writing or orally—about the importance of effective communication to successful collaboration with others from different backgrounds, cultures, and nations.

Take Action
Globally competent students translate their ideas and findings into appropriate actions to improve conditions.

Taking action on issues of significance requires the ability to communicate information and ideas clearly—be it through narrative or informational writing, formal presentation, or mathematical representation. The Common Core State Standards focus on the development of these foundational reading, writing, speaking, listening, language, and mathematical skills and understandings that research and evidence support as most essential for students to master in order to be ready for college and careers. These skills and competencies lay the foundation to develop students with the capacity to take action to improve conditions in their local community, state, the country, and the world.

The Standards place an emphasis on real-world applicability of knowledge and skills, such as the fourth Standard for Mathematical Practice focused on modeling, which notes that "mathematically proficient students can apply the mathematics they know to solve problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace." Furthermore, an entire strand of mathematics in high school is devoted to modeling so students become adept at taking a real world situation and identifying when and how mathematics should be applied to solve a particular problem. The decision left to educators, families, and communities is to determine how best to create opportunities for students to demonstrate their abilities and to take action.

Those interested in building into student learning experiences an expectation that students take action to improve conditions may consider designing extended projects to give students this opportunity. These projects may require students to identify a problem or substandard condition, assess options and plan actions based on evidence, act personally or collaboratively to execute the planned actions, assess the effectiveness of their actions, and ultimately reflect on the experience. These types of opportunities may take place within the traditional school environment, in an outside of school environment, or even at the self-direction of a student.

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