English curriculum out of sync with student learning

StudySync follows the Common Core standards, but it seems like a slight misinterpretation.

According to corestandards.org, the official Common Core website, the goal of Common Core is “to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live.” The site describes the important skills more in depth, but not one of them addresses the importance of people skills.

Students sit and stare at computer screens for long periods of time — at least when they aren’t experiencing technology-related problems — rereading to understand the writing, instead of discussing it with their peers or teachers. Students only learn to talk to each other in small groups, not in front of the class in, for example, Socratic seminars. Students report there is little discussion about correct answers or different interpretations.

Even worse, some teachers are bemoaning the fact that Studysync, with its technology-driven curriculum, can impede students’ connection with their teacher. As English teacher Chris Ramirez noted, “With the new curriculum, it doesn’t seem that I am as involved with their work as I have been, and now I don’t feel as connected to my students.”

Aside from having a qualified teacher in the classroom, it is the connection between students and their teachers that often is the difference between a student who is engaged in learning and those who mindlessly fill in the blanks on meaningless assignments.

Instead of the rigid lessons where every student in every class does the same thing on the same day, teachers should have more of a say in the curriculum. Reading and testing on computers may make teaching easier, but the traditional style of some English classes is better: teachers choose from a list of books and then students discuss what they read. Discussions and student-driven Socratic seminars or presentations often helps students retain information better than typing responses to generic questions.

Although StudySync comes with a lot of technological bells and whistles, the curriculum doesn’t replace the important bond that forms between teachers and their students that results in a shared understanding and exchange of information.