Hi families, If your state has already implemented Common Core (you are probably asking, was it a choice? Yes. Texas standards are higher than Common Core so they will not be implementing Common Core) you may have noticed some changes. I noticed that the elementary homework was lean. I am not for or against homework. I have one child whom I wish had more because he grasp concepts quickly and is not able to creatively fill voids of time. My other child is very creative and I would much rather hear her play the Cello, piano, or listen to the stories she creates. After speaking with a few principals the rationale, for less homework, is Common Core is more focused on problem based and cooperative learning. What is problem based learning? Problem based learning is when students are given a real problem, placed in groups and asked to solve the problem using information they are learning in class. For example: Our environment is no longer able to handle the mass amounts of trash we create. So small groups of students are formed and given the option of creating an environmental innovation or invention to help us to better manage waste. Students work in groups, mostly in-class. Specific students may be assigned to bring in specific materials. They are given a period of time, then they must present their project and their information orally. We all know that the future will reward innovators, and collaborators, right? One of the issues with less homework is less communication or signals about what they are learning in schools. Common Core will demand an increase in home-school collaboration. Parents will need to know what is being covered, how it is being taught, challenges, and outside resources for when the child is at home and stuck on a concept. I am not sure that schools are ready. I met with one principal who felt strongly that learning should take place in schools and if students struggled the families should make schools aware and the school should respond. Well, raise your hand if you know this doesn't often happen. How would parents know if students are struggling if there is not an on-going conversation between home and school? Observation of the tests that come home are not enough. I also noticed that the Science assessments were not developmentally appropriate for 6th grade. As a Social Scientist I could not answer many of the questions. So what did I do? Met with the principal and teacher and made it more appropriate for the grade. We need these conversations. I believe that Common Core is an experiment. No one really knows the outcome. We hope for the best. Teachers are struggling with Common Core. You can't teach what you don't know. If it were my child, I would continue with broader learning at home and visit the classrooms (field trips, board games, card games, reading, reading, and more reading, cultural events). Common Core is just a standard and not a realistic one. A great series to have in your home are by E.D. Hirshc Jr. They are leveled books for grades Preschool through 6th. Teachers use these to prepare themselves for teacher assessments. Don't get sad because they do not have them specifically for high school. What you will find is the basics covered in 6th grade are still relevant in high school and college. My son and I just read about the War of 1812, from the 2nd grade book. The presentation of material is interesting and covers pretty much everything. It's easy reading. Another book that every African American should have is There is nothing wrong with Black students by Kunjufu. If you are raising Black boys I would have every book Kunjufu has written (one of the only scholars who addresses academics, discipline and spirituality) however if you have to choose, get Keeping Black Boys Out of Special Education and 1000 teaching strategies for students of color. Make sure that your school is responding to students who need extra support with evidenced-based (research or best practice to demonstrate that it works) interventions. Your child does not need to be in special education to get interventions. Stay informed.