Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Don't Buy the Split: #1 Comment on the Common Core for ELA Teachers

student sketch, used with permission
Comment #1:

ELA and reading teachers who find it painful to put aside literary texts (either classic or contemporary literary or even just YA fan-fiction) in favor of informational texts:

  • I am tired of reading about compromises you have made to CCSS trainers.
  • I am tired of reading requests for lessons and parallel informational texts.
  • I am tired of reading requests for ideas for good research paper topics.
ELA teachers: You need to energize.  The CCSS do not, at any level, say you have to do this.  Go to your principals and literacy leaders.  Have a dialogue about what it means that: "The Standards set requirements not only for English language arts (ELA) but also for literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. Just as students must learn to read, write, speak, listen, and use language effectively in a variety of content areas, so too must the Standards specify the literacy skills and understandings required for college and career readiness in multiple disciplines. Literacy standards for grade 6 and above are predicated on teachers of ELA, history/social studies, science, and technical subjects using their content area expertise to help students meet the particular challenges of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language in their respective fields."

Therefore - you must convince leadership that as soon as subject-specific education begins in your district (the CC assumes this is grade 6, but it is not always) the 50-50 or 30-70 rule applies to ALL reading done by a student in a grade level.

If ELA teachers were to teach only literary texts, the other subject areas could easily cover 70% of the reading - the informational part.

Teachers - you need to be proactive about meeting with subject teachers.  You need to get them to take on the role of teachers of the informational texts their disciplines require.  Add this reading to the whole reading pie at each grade level.

It may well be, probably should be, that you will include some literary nonfiction (creative nonfiction) and some informational texts (background readings, images, media) in each of your units. Great!  Many students, especially reluctant boy readers, respond better to fiction and other literary texts if they have a very concrete frame of reference.  Doing that is nothing new.

But don't give up the texts that have proven to make life-long readers of our children simply to satisfy a misunderstood standard.

PS: PBS Teacherline has some excellent, inexpensive, short(er) "teach reading" courses to for science and history teachers.  Maine has similar offerings in the state university system. Check to see what is out there!  You can also find basic basic, oft-repeated informational reading strategies in many reliable places online and also (OMG) in many good books.  Avoid talking with them about lit circles, though!

No comments:

Post a Comment