I am not going to just reiterate what it says on the Common Core State Standards website because it is a great resource, and I’m sure that your school district or home school group has already provided you with a lot of information, too. Here’s the website link if you haven’t checked it out recently: Common Core State Standards website. The standards are listed on this website, along with “Myths and Facts”–which is an interesting discussion of the standards.
While also giving my opinion of this, I wanted to highlight a couple points. This is all in the English/Language Arts section–I am not addressing mathematics here. I think the standards are a terrific idea–maybe not all the pressure that teachers are feeling and the, of course, dreaded assessment that is going to come with it–but I do feel in this country we’ve needed a common set of standards at each grade level BECAUSE children move, and they move across the country or to another state or even another district ALL THE TIME in the middle of the school year. When I taught 5th grade in Francis Howell School District back in 2000 to 2002, it was common to have four or five new students throughout the school year as well as lose students. In this economy, it is even more common as parents have to find new employment. If school districts are following the Common Core State Standards, then students should have fewer gaps in their education as they move from district to district. Also, teachers can share materials and ideas more easily with the Common Core State Standards–within their buildings and district but also within the entire state. Websites and forums can be established to help teachers with teaching the standards.
What’s good about them? I like that a reading list is not given–there is no “here’s what you HAVE to read.” Instead sample texts are used to explain the type of material that should be used at that grade level. And many of the suggestions are texts that are already being used in the classroom. That’s nice–because as teachers learn a new way of thinking about their teaching and lesson plans, at least they are familiar with the text For example, in third grade, two of the fiction samples are: Charlotte’s Web and Sarah, Plain and Tall. I also like how these standards are making school districts think about literature that will address social studies, health, and science objectives, instead of using textbooks. I’ve been a proponent of this since I started teaching back in 1994.
So, what do you think? If you are in the classroom and using these, how’s it going? I’d love to hear from you.
A quick lesson idea with Charlotte’s Web:
One thing that hasn’t been emphasized much, but I think is really important and realized this when I taught Title I Reading at David Barton Elementary in Boonville is FLUENCY. Fluency actually helps with comprehension–it’s a lot harder to remember and concentrate on the story if children are struggling with every word or taking 15 minutes to read a page. Charlotte’s Web has loveable characters and some very emotional parts (such as the first time Charlotte saves Wilbur or at the end when Charlotte dies and Wilbur takes care of her babies). These would be great for practicing fluency. You could do this in one of two ways: peer reading–where students read with a partner out loud AFTER you’ve modeled reading aloud. Your model has to show expression and emphasis. You can also assign a group of children a certain section or even “part” to read. They practice this at home or in the classroom (even to a stuffed animal), and then they “perform” their part during a read-aloud day in class. (Reader’s Theater is also great for practicing fluency).
This post is long and you don’t have a lot of time. SO, I’m done. Here are a couple resources from Amazon:)