As we continue to learn more about the change that will be required to implement Common Core Standards in Language Arts we are working hard to communicate the new expectations to principals and teachers. Last week we met with all principals and guidance counselors to look at some of the changes. The Worthington Curriculum Essential Slides provides an extensive background on the Common Core Language Arts Standards. As we break these standards down we believe there are ten instructional shifts required by the Common Core:
1. Make close reading of texts central to lesson
Readers must interrogate the text by reading like detectives: gathering evidence from the text. This idea is taken to a whole new level with the CCSS. Students should have more opportunities to read shorter texts but spend more time with them. This is about depth vs. breadth
2. Structure majority of instruction so all students read grade-level complex texts
Students need more exposure to complex texts. Research shows that when students test at a certain level of reading, teachers often keep them there throughout the year. They must be exposed to the levels of text complexity that demonstrate where they should be. They must know the target to get there, otherwise they will be content where they are.
3. Emphasize informational texts from early grades on
Research shows that K-5 students are being exposed to only 7% of informational text. The new standards call for 50% at the elementary level, 55% at the middle school level and 70% at the high school level. (Note:These percentages represent the amount of reading the student does across the day in all content areas.)
4. Provide scaffolding that does not preempt or replace text
Front-loading information within the text, replacing the text with a video rather than reading the text, or easier versions of text. We often give them a summary of what they are going to read and inadvertently rob them of the reason to read the text. Allow them the process of inquiry so that they can discover what the text has to reveal.
5. Ask text-dependent questions
PARCC Assessments will require students to close read multiple selections of text, synthesize this information, and respond to text dependent questions/prompts. Much more rigorous for students; requiring versatility in Blooms.
6. Provide extensive research and writing opportunities (claims and evidence)
Writing and Research within the technical subjects. Collaboration and shared ownership of reading and writing.
7. Offer regular opportunities for students to share ideas, evidence, and research.
According to Mike Schmoker, unless students have the opportunity to read, write AND talk about something, they do not reach deep understanding. Presentations, Socratic Seminar, etc. are critical.
8. Offer systematic instruction in vocabulary
Vocabulary – Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction by Isabel Beck
9. Provide explicit instruction in grammar and conventions
Does this mean grammar in isolation? Or the whole language approach? There must be a balance between both of these approaches
10. Cultivate students’ independence
Students must be responsible for their learning. The move to formative instruction/formative assessment is a push in cultivating this independence.