Fellow blogger Dave Stuart, Jr. published this fabulous blog post “12 Skills the Common Core and Employers Want” on January 4, 2014. Please go read it and then come back.
Here is the book that Dave was quoting from:
I am in the process of reading the book, but I couldn’t wait to get to the end before posting this!
Here’s my shortened “Cliff-Notes” version of Dave’s post that I have been analyzing for the last ten days. Did you notice which Common Core Anchor Standards were most important to employers?
Which skills were #1, #2, and #3? Did you notice that those were all three Speaking and Listening Standards? And the content is way beyond an obligatory, one semester “Speech” class.
Study the chart for a few minutes and notice the color coding for the Anchor Standards? What patterns do you notice? (ahem, a bit of #close reading required!) Are there other standards that you would consider adding based on the full quotations in Dave’s blog?
For the 12 features, the following ELA anchor standards were listed:
- 4 Speaking and Listening Standards (yellow)
- 10 Writing Standards (green)
- 4 Language Standards (blue)
- 4 Reading Standards (white)
Is that what you expected? Granted, some standards are included in more than one feature. In the world of English Language Arts, there are 32 Anchor Standards. An unduplicated count above has 13 or 41% of those standards as skill areas that employers want.
Do your students have these skills when they leave your school? Why or Why not?
Do your students have opportunities to begin to develop these skills every day in every grade?
“Prepare for the tsunami! Prepare for the earthquake! Prepare . . . .”
“DANGER! Will Robinson!”
Tweet from Michigan Reading Association (March 9, 2013): “Close reading takes place 2 or 3 times a week. Not all day every day. –Doug Fisher #MRA13″
Highly skilled teachers are constantly talking with students who are reading books to see if the students are applying the skills that they have been taught. Nothing new there. Solid core instruction (checking for understanding/application)!
Is there a list of skills that need to be taught? Well, it depends . . .
- What skills does the student already have executive control over/with?
- What skill does the student need for the next genre or text in any content area?
- How do you know what the student knows? Or doesn’t know?
There is no “curricula of close reading text” that all students can or should be comprehending. One goal of the Common Core is that students will be “College and Career Ready.” Specific ranges and genres of text expectations are included in RL.10 and RI.10 and exemplars are also listed in Appendix B. (Nor should there be a curricula of close reading text!)
We do not want students to have a view that reading is only something that is done “at school.” “Assigning complex text” should not be a standard event if the student has not had skilled, scaffolded instruction that will allow him/her to construct the meaning of the text. Constructing the meaning may involve a bit of a struggle. It also may allow for multiple understandings to co-exist especially when backed with textual evidence!
I was reminded today that there are many views of “close reading” available because this idea has been around since 1929. But the feeding frenzy in the publishing world now has a “close reading” for every page of every story in some primary basal texts. Really? Why? (refer back to the bulleted questions above) Is every piece of text “complex enough” to require close reading? If the answer is no, heed the warning that began this blog. Ask questions when you are quizzed about how often you are modeling “close reading.”
Need more information?
In 2010, Newkirk said, “Not all texts demand this level of attention but some texts do!” He added, “We never really ‘comprehend’ these anchoring passages – we’re never done with them; we never consume them. Like sacred texts, they are inexhaustible, continuing to move us, support us, and even surprise us” (p. 11).
Doug Fisher reminds us often that “Reader Response Theory” is a part of Rosenblatt’s (1978) work. “The formal elements of the work – style and structure, rhythmic flow – function only as a part of the total literary experience”(p.7). An individual’s interpretation may change over time. Doug uses the example of The Jungle Book when discussing close reading in his book titled Text Complexity. A child might believe the theme is loyalty and friendship while an adult could see an anti-colonialist message (p.107).
There is always a balance. . . A time to learn a new skill. . . A time to practice a skill. But remember the caution from the last blog post. The “reader response” needs to be based on the text. Yes, it can include “connections” that are based on the text. The response should NOT exclude the text and result in “rewrite the ending to include an outcome you would prefer” (Fisher, p. 107).
Choose your close reading text carefully. Consider your student data. Consider your knowledge of your students. Consider your knowledge of the curricula. Consider the next steps to independent application . . . and your students will be on the road to being College and Career Ready!
How do you know when you need to plan a “close reading”? Please share your ideas in a comment!
Newkirk,T. (2010) The case for slow reading. Educational Leadership, 67(6), 6-11.
Fisher, D., Frey, N., & Lapp, D.(2012). Text complexity: Raising rigor in reading. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
When you consider CCR.RI.1 how do you decide what evidence is most relevant, accurate, and informative? Does it need to parallel or mirror your own existing thoughts so you can cheer, “Good job!” when you get to the end?
Or does the evidence get you to stop and think? Perhaps reread? Talk to a friend? Write a blog? Does it ever make you wonder what you really “know?”
There are many wonderful blogs on a variety of topics. The two blogs that have increased my level of understanding of the Common Core English Language Arts Anchor Standards with files of evidence of learning are:
(drum roll, please . . .)
1. Burkins and Yaris Think Tank for 21st Century Literacy
or in Twitterdom @burkinsandyaris
Go to the second button “Our Favorites” and pull down the menu to see such choices as:
- Article Archive
- Close Reading
- Common Core Resources
- Common Core Work in the States
Climbing the Staircase of Complexity (Parts 1 and 2) might be a blog post of special interest to you! Wander around a bit to see what’s available!
2. Teaching the Core
or in Twitterdom @davestuartjr
Dave Stuart Jr. will help your brain cells grow when you read his blogs about all 32 English Language Arts CCR Anchor Standards. The header for his blog is posted below. Time spent with all of the CCSS posts will be an incredibly good use of your time. As you read them, please do think about your own applications of the CCR Standards ESPECIALLY if you are a high school ELA teacher. If you work in an elementary or middle school, think about how you truly do help create that staircase of learning so students can meet the end goal – College and / or Career Ready!
What did you learn from reading these blogs? Please “Leave a Reply” below!