What will reading instruction look like under the Common Core State Standards? Much attention has been paid to the idea that the standards place more emphasis on reading informational texts, as opposed to literature—but advocates of the new standards see them as a chance to help students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for learning.
This shift will require “more complex, deeper thinking in not just what you teach, but how you teach it. How you do it is going to be significantly different,” said Jeff Williams, a reading recovery teacher leader and K-12 literacy teacher in Ohio’s Solon City Schools. Williams is a member of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
As teachers move through the standards, Williams said, they realize that the standards are not isolated and that they relate to one another in different bands and patterns.
“What they ask us to do is to make sure we are getting students to think, and getting them to see how those strands of literacy—reading, writing, and communicating language—are really intertwined,” said Sarah Brown Wessling, an NCTE member, 2010 National Teacher of the Year, and a high school English teacher and standards coordinator in Iowa’s Johnston Community School District.
Some of the standards’ practical shifts include more nonfiction, more text-dependent questions, and placing more attention on making sure students are focused on arguments rather than persuasion.
“To get students to do what the [Common] Core asks them to do, we as teachers have to be the lead learners, model what learning processes look like, and be able to really get students to think—and in order to do all of those things, I have to be a constant learner myself,” Wessling said.
Wessling’s tips for school leaders include: