Monday, September 30, 2013

Quotes and Questions to Guide CCSS Implementation, Part 1

In a recent presentation, I offered a series of quotes that might frame how principals move forward with CCSS implementation and alignment efforts.  See the quotes below along with some questions to guide reflection:

(1) "A related misconception in working with the Common Core is evident when teachers turn immediately to the grade level Standards listed for their grade or course to plan their teaching." (from McTighe and Wiggins' From Common Core Standards to Curriculum: Five Big Ideas)

What does it mean to say that the structure of CCSS reflects a series of "developmental progressions"?  What would be some examples of these developmental progressions (hint: RI/RL Anchor Standard #2 or RI Anchor Standard #8) and why are they important for us to understand when thinking about how we approach the teaching of our own grade level standards?

(2) "Alignment is no longer a simple process of picking a standard, teaching a lesson that addresses it, and ticking it off a list.  Aligning instruction to the Common Core means planning lessons that address several standards on a repeated basis."  (from Burkins and Yaris' 5 Things to Keep in Mind as You Implement the Common Core)

Since the dawning of standards-based reform more than fifteen years ago, curriculum planning has devolved into an atomistic exercise where individual standards are isolated and conveniently slotted into lesson or week-long experiences.  Recently, I observed one instance where a teacher indicated that the week's goal was for students to "identify details and examples from the text when explaining the key ideas found in the text."  Shouldn't standards like this underscore every lesson and unit that we plan?  What effects is this kind of curricular fragmentation having on teaching and learning?  How might CCSS be providing us an opportunity to change the role standards play in our micro and macro-curriculum planning?

(3) "For too long, and in too many classrooms, we’ve let great books take a back seat to reading skills and strategies.  Of course, learning skills and practicing strategies is useful, but the Common Core usefully pushes us to put skills in service of understanding and analyzing great texts, rather than as an end in themselves." (from Kathleen Porter-Magee in Doug Lemov's A Few Minutes with Kathleen Porter-Magee)

How do we typically treat the teaching of comprehension skills such as visualization, making text-self connections, and generating questions?  Are such skills taught in such a way as to continually support the ultimate goal which is for students to be independently reading and comprehending complex literary and informational texts?  Or are these skills more often taught in isolation and without enough regard for the quality and complexity of the text?

Part 2 later this week...

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