Pathways to the Common Core: Part 1

Each week I share a “Monday Musings” post on my staff blog.  I use this weekly post to share my own professional learning/reflections with staff.  I am currently reading Pathways to the Common Core and plan to share what I’m learning in several parts with staff.  Here is what I posted for them last week.

Monday Musings – Pathways to the Common Core #1

I am currently reading the book Pathways to the Common Core, which I am finding to be an incredible resource to gain a better understanding of what the ELA Common Core Standards really mean.  Wait, don’t close this yet, I know you’re sick of hearing about the common core, but at least save it to read later when you have time!  If I could, I would buy this book for everyone to read, but there’s probably not enough $ and I know that many of you would be worried about when you’d have time to read it. For now, I plan to share some of the “nuggets” from my reading in my next few Monday Musings posts to share my learning with you.  By doing this, it is also helping me to process what I’m reading.

My first take-away from reading this book is that it is not enough for us to have our Common Core binders and remember there are 10 anchor standards in ELA or even to know the CCSS really well for our grade level.  We need to really dig into what it means to apply each of the skills in the standards…How often do we we actually read complex text and apply the skills in the standards? You’d be amazed at what the common core expects!  We also need to know the standards for the grade level above and below so that we can differentiate for the variety of readers we teach.

A great way to think about the ELA standards  reading standards is to picture a ladder, with standards 1 and 10 as the crucial struts that form the two sides of the ladder.  Standard 10 carries increasing levels of text complexity up the grade levels and into College and Career Readiness.  Standard 1, the other side of the ladder, asks readers to “read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.”  The remaining reading standards form the rungs of the ladder.  The authors write that it is the rungs linking the 2 main standards that are important, because “although it is crucial for students to be able to handle increasingly complex texts, reading must never be mere word calling; accuracy without strong literal comprehension is not reading.”

As I read the authors’ section on implications for instruction, it affirmed all of the literacy work that we have been doing.  The following steps for schools to put in place are things we are already doing with Daily 5/Cafe:

  • Assess your readers and match them to books that can be read with 95% accuracy, fluency and comprehension.
  • Make reading plans with students and help support them to reach those reading goals.
  • Provide students with an extensive collection of high-interest books and allow them choice. 
  • Provide students with long blocks of time to read. 
  • Provide students with explicit instruction in the skills of effective reading.

If you made it this far in reading…good for you and Thank you!  Next week I’ll share what I’ve learned about Reading Informational Texts.  I am also considering using one of the reading activities (for teachers to get practice in the standards) in our next grade level meetings.

On another random note, I wrote a post on using Goodreads, which is one of my Reading Resolutions. You can find it HERE if you’re interested in learning what Goodreads is.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Allison Jackson

    Jessica, great job on this one, too. Love that you are reading the Standards as if they are gold, instead of as a curmudgeon! They may not be perfect, but they do sound a call to action about the instructional practices in many of our schools.

  2. snehalp

    Hi Jessica,

    My name is Snehal and I’m a former educator. In my current role as the founder & CEO of Sokikom, I get to explore teacher blogs to seek out innovative teachers and strategies to learn from and spread to more classrooms around the country. First, I want to thank you for this post–it prompted me to order this book from Amazon as well as look at similar books.

    As it seems like you’re passionate about integrating technology into the classroom(btw-I liked your 12/7/12 post), I wanted to let you know about Sokikom, which is currently a free online tool teachers use to (1) improve student behaviors and (2) differentiate math instruction. We’ve built Sokikom based on the feedback from teachers – as I browsed through your blog it seemed like you might be interested so I thought I’d pass it along. We’ve gotten an incredible amount of feedback from teachers using our product, but are always looking for new suggestions as well, so if you decide to give it a try, please don’t hesitate to reach out me personally with questions or feedback! (snehalp AT sokikom DOT com)

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