2011 Really Good U: The Common Core Standards and Reading
The Common Core Standards (CCS) have very specific goals and expectations for mastery within their framework. For reading, they are broken down into two main grade-level groupings – K-5 and 6-12. One of the key components of the standards in relation to reading, and one that has been the topic of much discussion is the fact that as students progress through school, the texts become more complex and more challenging. This causes concern for a variety of reasons, but to further understand how the CCS will impact the elementary teacher it is important to take a look at the layout and wording of the standards themselves.
In the Kindergarten-5 Grade Levels, reading is broken down into three main areas: Literature, Informational, and Foundational. Literature address, among other things, varying view points, understanding key details, recalling specific information from within a text, and comparing and contrasting themes, events and characters. Informational Text pinpoints the specific expectations associated with non-fiction work and how it pertains to real-world application. Foundational Skills are the meat and potatoes of the reading process. They begin with basic phonics skills and stress mastery at each level.
Within each of the key reading areas, the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) emphasizes the ideal that “students advancing through the grades are expected to meet each year’s grade-specific standards and retain or further develop skills and understandings mastered in preceding grades.” This ideal may be attainable with sufficient time and materials designed to not only meet, but exceed the basic introduction to the standard. For the classroom teacher this means being hyper-vigilant about each lesson’s connection to specific standards in the CCS outline.
One of the biggest changes that educators will see is the emphasis on the Informational Text component of the standards. These standards have traditionally been lumped into basic reading standards without having a stand-alone feature. Newspaper and magazines are jumping on the bandwagon touting their products as ideal “real world” informational texts. The New York Times recently published a piece extolling the virtues of their multimedia offerings and other publishers are sure to follow. While the efforts of these publishers of Informational Text to make their products known to the education community can be helpful, teachers must also look at the appropriateness of using such pieces in their lessons.
The Reading CCS may not be far off from many of the standards that your state has already rolled out, but the detail with which the CCS is written leaves very little wiggle room in terms of spontaneous learning. What concerns do you, as a classroom teacher, have about incorporating the Reading CCS into your lessons? How different are they from they standards that your lessons are already aligned to? What will or have you done differently to achieve the ideal expectations that the CCSSI emphasizes? Share with us.