Our school moves to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)? What does that mean? How do these standards change the way I teach and students learn? What do I need to do to implement these standards?
Our previous state standards included grade level expectations that mostly do fit into the CCSS as parts of the deeper, more complex standards of CCSS. It is important to note that the CCSS do have authors: David Coleman and Sue Pimentel. And the document ratified by the forty-six states states, “the Standards define what all students are expected to know and be able to do, not how teachers should teach” (2010a, 6).
To help me implement the CCSS, I’m studying the book, Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement by Lucy Calkens, Mary Ehrenworth, and Chris Lehman.
The first thing is to undertand that this implementation does fall into the purview of principals and teachers, who are free to use the tools and knowledge of their professional judgments to determine how to meet these goals.
The CCSS demand of even young students the ability to analyze multiple texts and explain the relationships between ideas and author’s craft. Students need to read lots of types of texts and books, engage in conversations in which they support their ideas with evidence from the text, both literal and inferred. Reading and writing are equally important because higher-order comprehension and critical thinking matters. This focus emphasizes the importance of critical citizenship — expecting evidence, noting viewpoints, discerning misinformation. The curriculum will build, a spiral of goals that will take time as teachers plan together to lead students into deeper critical thinking about more complex texts so that students grow into asking their own key questions and think and write about their analysis of multiple sources when researching their answers. No longer is just the reading and writing teacher responsible for language arts; cross-curricular and interdisciplinary units will help guide students to become critical thinkers of complex information.
We will need to look at what we already do well, and set goals to improve. We’ll need to find the gaps and create a plan to reform our curriculum with an emphasis in a spiral, cross-curricular reading and writing. Writing is a tool for thinking across disciplines. An hour writing workshop and at least forty-five minutes of choice reading time is vital. We will need many high-interest just-right books. Running records will indicate where each student is, and we’ll need to focus on higher-level comprehension — reading for meaning — at all levels. Writing focus on narrative, explanation, and persuasive forms. In reading and writing, understanding points of view is critical to understanding reading and communicating clearlyK
Look at levels two and three of Webb’s depth-of-knowledge hierarchy for an indication of what is expected in the CCSS. Math 3-5 Reading Bloom/Webb Assessments 21C DOK NYCDOE DOK Students need to be able to sort, categorize, compare, contrast, evaluate, analyze, reason.
The CCSS includes nine reading skills — analyze them across grade levels to see how each successive grade level expectation builds on what went before, and all expect the student to base understanding directly from text evidence and inference, not from a reader’s connection to that text. CCSS skill 10 refers to grade level text reading across the nine skills. Everything is about making meaning. Students need to converse in analytic, text-based discussions; read-alouds and “accountable talk” form a basis for creating lessons in manageable steps with feedback and ample practice in a variety of texts and text complexity. Hopefully students can form book clubs in teams or with partners so they learn to carry their reading strategies and skills learned into any area independently.
As for me, I plan to dig out my running record work, watch videos at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, and continue learning about the reading and writing standards in the CCSS. I’ve created a LiveBinder of CCSS links
What about you? Has your state or school adopted the CCSS? How are you learning to implement these standards?
Geeky Gramma ~~
Retired Middle School Language Arts Teacher ~~
Writer and Thinker