• Literacy and the Common Core State Standards

    As we move forward with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English, Language Arts, and Reading, we must remember that these Standards are being put in place to ensure all students throughout the nation are held to the same rigorous expectations and that they will be ready to compete in an ever-evolving global economy.  The goal is college and career readiness for all students and as we have traveled throughout the district visiting schools and classrooms, we know our teachers have questions.  Some of these questions have to do with materials; others are concerned with defining "college and career readiness"; others are about the Standards, themselves.  Rest assured that as a curriculum team, we are working on getting information to you about this important national initiative in a timely manner.  We understand the differences in knowledge because our time-line for implementation is grade-level specific.  What we cannot do is pretend that this national initiative will simply "go away."

    To this end, I offer four ideas or charges to all teachers and will try and structure my professional learning toward achieving these five core understandings and passing on what I learn to all of you.  Here are my four charges:
    • Know the standards - Use the tabloid sheets we distributed at your school to get to know and understand these new standards.  Meet with teachers at your grade-level as well as those at other grade levels to ensure you understand the anchor standards as well as the grade specific standards.  Look for gaps between materials and Standards and ask others for help in developing materials where none exist.  Use everything you know about learning to help your students meet these new rigorous standards.
    • Know that new levels of literacy are required at all grade levels - Understand and accept that the demands placed on students today as they exit high school and enter the workforce or college are more rigorous.  Also know that we are truly living in a flat world where global marketing and global issues can and do effect our quiet little communities. 
    • Know that there is value in using challenging text and purposely select these texts for use in your classroom -   Now more than ever it is important to let students struggle and build the "muscle" of the brain just like we build our core muscles at the gym.  Only through struggle and perseverance do students gain self-reliance and true mastery.  We cannot continue to dilute the purposes for reading by over-building prior knowledge and other pre-reading activities.  We must ask students to make connections within and between texts.  Think of connecting Walt Whitman's "When I heard the Learn'd Astronomer" to a informational blog about why star twinkle,and the award winning novel "Number the Stars" by Lois Lowry .
    • Know and exploit the connection between reading and writing - Our students are more than proficient when they are asked to write to a specific prompt.  How often do students write in response to literature and then support their writing with specific instances from the text(s)?  In considering the reading mentioned above, how might students tie all the learning from these three sources to make a text-based and text-supported answer to why it might be important to teach young adults about the vastness of space and how humankind has always attempted to attach meaning to stars.