My Work in Progress: A book about the CC Reading Standards

I've been immersed in the Common Core Reading Standards these last few months. As an outgrowth of my last book, Big Skills for the Common Core, I've decided that it's the Reading Standards that magnetize the other twenty-two Literacy Standards. The book is arranged with a chapter for each of the ten Reading Standards, with grade-by-grade expectations, a deep look at each of the Standards and how they can draw in the Writing, Speaking/Listening, and Language Standards.

Favorite Sentence of the Day

Flight Attendant Announcement: "We do have a choice of one snack. It's pretzels."

In Praise of the Document-Based Question: DBQ

      The document-based question (DBQ), has long been a staple in social studies classes. It is a paradigm that should be used not only in social studies, but for all classes because it recruits so many academic and thinking skills.

NY Times Editorial

Just read an editorial by Joe Nocera entitled "How to Fix the Schools." Nocera makes two points worth thinking about:
1. Teacher education needs to improve at the college level, emphasizing both content mastery and pedagogy.
2. There is no relationship, in this country or in other countries, between union strength and student performance.

Lip Service to Literacy

      I've been had. Fooled. Deluded. Grifted. Hoodwinked. Gulled.  I actually believed, for a minute there, that this Common Core State Standards thing that we hear so much about was going to result in content area teachers finally being held responsible for teaching the literacy skills relevant to and necessary for true learning in their respective subject areas. I don't know why I would think such a thing.

The Succotash Syndrome

       How do we select words for a vocabulary list? It makes sense to be diagnostic about it: select words that are the most important for students to know to 1)survive in an academic and business world, 2) learn about word components, so that they can figure out new words based on their roots, prefixes, and suffixes, 3) more about the world, and 4) nuture their natural-born interest in words. Not all words are of equal value. Some words are essential, such as the words on the Academic Word List or words that appear often in literature but not so often in ordinary conversation.

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that Standard

       Curriculum planning is more than a matter of having a "good idea" about something that students can do. "The class is going to be acting out a scene from Romeo and Juliet wearing funny hats."    This is a good idea only insofar as it is grounded in one or more Standards. In other words, only if it has a rhyme and reason beyond passing the time in an amusing way while reading Shakespeare's words aloud is it worthwhile.  A teacher who is Standards-based says: "The class is going to be learning how to read closely, acting out a scene from Romeo and Juliet .

L, M, and N-type Teachers

     L-type teachers have strong teacherly instincts. Give them the overall theory and they'll be able to supply the particulars. For example, if L-type folks learn that the game Concentration is actually very good for brain-building because it teaches the practice of remembering bits of information that were presented in the recent past, L-teachers will understand not only the concept, but its instructional implications.

The President's Announcement

     Once again, President Obama moves us closer to a just, humane, and welcoming society by announcing today that children and young adults who grew up in this country can stay here.

Animal Adjectives

I like those adjectives that refer to animals. The most common ones are canine and feline. But there's also bovine (cow) and equine (horse). Then there are the more obscure ones: lupine (wolf), vulpine (fox), aquiline (eagle), piscine (fish), orsine (bear).


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