Speaking of Common Core Quality

Standard

rdecom9127507129It is exciting to see that the Common Core State Standards support the use of technology in education.  Take this Speaking and Listening standard for example:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.4.5 Add audio recordings and visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main idea

My mind races to having students use tablet devices to interview friends at school for a book talk or a having a group of students creating a video reenactment of a scene from a play.  This type of technology use would capture our students’ interest.  But is this all we want from the use of technology?  To be sure, students enjoy creating content with digital devices.  They take pictures and film videos all the time with their smart phones or tablets.  This does not mean that they are automatically going deeper with their learning when they use technology.

Let’s take a look at the standard again:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.4.5 Add audio recordings and visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main idea

The concept of main idea is a key part of this standard.  Students must  have a solid understanding of the main idea that they are presenting.  Not only do they have to understand the main idea, they have to know if the other pieces of information that they have included in their presentation support the main idea.  Let’s say a fourth grader was giving a presentation on the sinking of the Titanic.  It might be interesting to know what was served on the Titanic but this does not help us understand how this ship was crippled by an iceberg.  Now add in some technology.  Suppose a student included a short clip from a movie about the Titanic in their presentation.  Aside from grabbing our attention, does the movie clip help us understand the main point of the presentation?  We have all seen students spend whole class periods looking for and editing a video clip for a presentation.  This might be time well spent if the student finds a clip that shows the ship’s fatal flaws, but it could also be wasted time if the clip simply shows the ship sailing along at a distance.  Just as we must be careful about what we include in one of our lessons, students must be careful about what they include in a presentation they are making.
Finally, teachers know that they  must go “back to the drawing board” if they give a lesson and their students show little understanding on an “exit card” or quiz.  What about the student giving a presentation, how do they know if their audience understood what they were trying to present?  We need to allow students to receive feedback when they are mastering SL.4.5.  After all, wouldn’t we prefer that our own students told us that they learned a lot from our lessons rather than telling us they thought the video we showed was “cool?”

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