Common Core Beyond the Classroom: How Cultural Institutions Help Students Succeed

By Leanne Ellis, Library Services Coordinator at New York City Department of Education

20140428_CommonCore.jpgCultural institutions have become vital partners for Common Core integration. With thoughtfully designed exhibits and supporting materials, museums and libraries help students make unique discoveries through tactile exhibits that extend their learning beyond text and multimedia. 

The American Museum of Natural History, for example, uses writing tasks based on exhibition content to support Common Core literacy standards in nonfiction reading and writing. They schedule school visits that incorporate reading and writing activities about topics ranging from paleontology to astronomy. These elements are closely incorporated with presentations from subject matter experts and museum exhibits.

Many cultural institutions work directly with teachers to incorporate nonfiction essays, explanatory writing tasks, and Common Core-aligned rubrics based on exhibition content. The New-York Historical Society, for instance, provides teachers with writing guides that give teachers writing tasks to use with their students based on historical resources.

Cultural institutions also contribute to college readiness by providing student enrichment programs and teacher workshops that emphasize building content knowledge and critical thinking through authentic learning activities and tasks.  Examining the actual anti-aircraft gun at the Intrepid Museum can help students contextualize a newspaper article from the 1940s on why African Americans were denied the Navy Cross in 1944 even though they displayed courage under attack.

In June 2014, the NYC UnCommon Approaches to the Common Core Conference will connect educators from the NYC Metro area with local cultural institutions who employ these strategies. The conference will demonstrate that cultural institutions are positioned to support schools with Common Core implementation in the following areas:

  • Professional development and workshops for teachers;
  • Literacy-infused content resources;
  • Evidence-based reading selections and activities;
  • Hosted school visits tied to Common Core reading and writing standards.

Engaging with high-quality resources and experiences connects students to their local communities and the world around them.  Through these enlightening experiences, students come away knowing what this great city has to offer them intellectually and culturally.