Are you ready for the Common Core State
Over the past few months, I have asked a number of teachers
this question, and few of them feel prepared. Many have attended training
sessions on the new national standards but don't feel up to the task of
implementing them. For most teachers, it seems like one more initiative being
thrust upon them.
I have examined the new math, English and science
standards, and I am encouraged that they really do challenge students to go
deeper and use higher-order skills. But the problem is most teachers have been
preparing students for the old state tests. Make no mistake: Teaching to the new
standards requires completely different teaching methodologies than teaching to
the old standards. Where the new standards focus on deeper thinking and unique
situations, the older state tests focused on facts and
A common way to prepare teachers to teach the
higher-order thinking skills (HOTS) required by the Common Core is to instruct
them about the new standards and then leave them to themselves to figure out how
to implement them. This is a flawed approach. Just learning what the
standards are is not enough. My fear is that teachers have been so focused on
skills and facts that they have not had the opportunity to teach HOT skills —
and thus have no framework to prepare them for the shift that is
By now, most educators have heard of flipped classrooms
in which students watch informative videos at home and do their "homework" in
class. But at its heart, flipped learning actually describes a longer-term, more
Of the thousands of educators who have flipped their
classrooms, most spend about one year
following the basic flipped model — let's call it "Flipped Class
101." All students watch the
same video on Tuesday night and all do the same activity on Wednesday in class.
But this model reflects only the first stage in the process. After the first
year, teachers realize they can use the extra face-to-face class time to take
their students deeper.
During the second year of flipping their classes,
teachers start implementing what I call flipped learning. In this second
iteration of the flipped class, teachers apply strategies like mastery learning,
project-based learning, inquiry and other forms of deeper engagement — the
skills that lie at the heart of the Common Core State
There are other ways to move a teacher from "content
disseminator" to "deep learning expert," but flipped learning provides a simple
and elegant pedagogical methodology that is transforming the classrooms of
thousands of teachers across the globe.
The diagram below illustrates the range of teacher
preparation for the coming shift:
teachers lie somewhere on this continuum.
The teachers on the right are already preparing to students to
think and solve problems on their own. These are the "rock stars" who don't
necessarily need flipped
learning. They have discovered
how to teach deeper learning skills on their own, often in spite of the
The teachers on the left are those who primarily deliver
content and practice skills with their students — the "old standards," I call
I believe the vast majority of teachers lie further to
the left on the diagram, and they need a simple process to help them reach
deeper levels of learning. So how do we move teachers towards higher-order
thinking and deeper learning strategies? One powerful way is to train them to
flip their class and help them progress toward flipped
Instead of conducting simplistic training on the Common
Core, we should use the flipped class model to move teachers toward a more
learner-centered, inquiry-driven classroom. Then they and their students will be
more prepared for Common Core — and for wherever their educational journey takes
do you think?
Do you, as a teacher, feel prepared for the Common Core?
Do you see the flipped learning as a way to provoke your students to think
Bergmann is a teacher, flipped learning pioneer, radio show host, educational
change agent and co-author of Flip Your Classroom and Flipped Learning: Gateway to Student
Engagement. Check out his blog at jonbergmann.com.