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How the coming of the Common Core will affect Chinese studies

August 14, 2013

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By Heather Clydesdale

In evolutionary terms, it’s called a catastrophism: a sudden event forces species to adapt quickly and dramatically. Since their introduction in 2010, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have been adopted by 45 U.S. states, reshaping the American educational ecosystem. As schools and districts scramble to adjust, it’s not surprising that teachers of Chinese, and avid watchers of their programs, often perceive CCSS as a threat.

Some language classes are endangered as administrators hunt for more time for reading and math, and teachers may suddenly find themselves adapting to new habitats, such as assisting with math and reading intervention. Yet Yan Wang, a teacher at Dixie Magnet Elementary School in Kentucky’s Fayette County Public Schools, insists that CCSS is an opportunity for teachers to root even nascent programs more deeply in their schools, and to demonstrate that they, and their Chinese language program, are important assets in the Common Core endeavor.

Wang, who is also past president of the Kentucky Association of Chinese Language Teachers, says teachers should support the implementation of CCSS and outlines several survival strategies for embedding the standards in Chinese language curriculum and instruction. First, she advocates becoming familiar with the CCSS and monitoring how other teachers use them in their classes. Teachers can encourage colleagues in the same grade to post their long-range plans on bulletin boards in common areas. They can also create an online hub to access the plans of other grades, so that everyone can track articulation of skills and content from year to year. By seeing how others teachers at their school plan to incorporate the CCSS, language teachers can embed the same standards into their own lessons, reinforcing what children are learning in other subject areas

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