Where Microsoft Meets English

This is a grand experiment in education and the funding thereof. Through their largesse, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are behind what is know as the Common Core Curriculum. It is one of their efforts to empower and uplift education.

Is it what we need? Time will tell on this. Here are some key links to this initiative, which may be coming to your District. Microsoft certainly advanced the world of personal computers as much as anyone. With Apple, Facebook, Pintrest and others in the news so much these days, we forget about what Microsoft was and is.

Most of us still us PC based computers running some version of Windows and using Microsoft Office applications. Do we love them? Not so much, but we are certainly in a marriage of convenience.

The Common Core Curriculum Mapping Project provides educators with high-quality, low-cost curriculum tools based on the Common Core State Standards. Our second edition Curriculum Maps in English Language Arts have been viewed more than 7 million times since they went online in August 2010. These 76 detailed curriculum Maps and sample lesson plans are designed to help K-12 educators create the kind of “well-developed, content-rich curriculum” called for in the Common Core State Standards.

What the Heck are the Maps?

This is a brief description of the unit. It explains the unit’s theme and provides a summary of what students will learn. It explains the structure, progression, and various components of the unit. It may offer some guidance regarding the selection of texts. The unit descriptions illuminate the connections between the skills identified in the standards and the content of the suggested works.

Content in the Maps

An important feature of Common Core’s curriculum maps is their attention to building students’ background knowledge of a diverse array of events, people, places, and ideas. Cognitive science has demonstrated that students read better if they know something about the subject they are reading about, so Common Core incorporated into its maps themes, texts, and activities that teach students about “The Great Big World,” as one of our Kindergarten maps is called.

Who is Using the Maps?

There are quite a few.

Who is Paying for this?

Microsoft meets education. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the big dollars behind this.

I love maps, I really do. I grew up looking at and pondering the maps that came with our subscription to National Geographic. I learned so much from these.

When I think of and look at public education, and in particular the urban areas and the idea of maps, I’m intrigued. What I think may be the case is the areas that the Common Core is going into is “unmapped territory.” These “maps” assume there are families in place that have the capacity to support their kids in the educational efforts. They assume there are capable leaders in charge of the schools and these public resources. They assume that the general public that votes at less then 20% for school boards is engaged and they assume that poverty in these areas can be overcome with “better ideas” and a common curriculum and “map.”

I wish them well, I really do, public education in the urban areas of our country is in free fall and in crisis. We need some really competent and visionary leaders to create the “new maps” for all of the stake holders in these communities.


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