The Common Core Standards for Language Arts stress the importance of helping students read and comprehend more complex materials. How are you locating appropriate fiction and non-fiction resources so your students can practice listening, speaking, reading, and writing increasingly more complex texts?
Share your favorite resources and strategies for addressing the Common Core Standards in Language Arts and find out what other educators are using effectively in their classrooms.
It's been a real challenge. I try to use a mix of current events (articles from The Atlantic) or science magazines. It's very time consuming, though. I also use literature and have created differentiated reading groups for my 10th, 11th, and 12th graders.
My school was given a demo account for two tools, Assessments21 and Literary Companion. They are software provided by a company called AcademicMerit. We are probably going to use it next year. It seems reasonably priced.
The reading passages are rigorous. The levels they have for assessments are 1, 2, 3, and 4. Level 1 is middle school, Level 2 is 9th-10th, Level 3 is 11th-12, and Level 4 is definitely AP. The reading questions are aligned to specific Common Core Anchor Standards. There's a built in writing rubric that is really easy to use, too.
I think you have raised a good question. I wonder if you have looked at the Exemplar Texts (Appendix B) of the Common Core State Standards? There are samples of text that “serve to exemplify the level of complexity and quality that the Standards require of all students in a given grade band to engage with.” If you haven’t had the opportunity to look at Appendix B, the examples may be something you can use or may give you some ideas for other sources of text. Hope this is helpful.
If you look at the EDSITEment lessons for Literature and for Social Studies you willl find a judicious mixture of primary and secondary sources that focus on analyzing informational texts. We frequently pair a primary source such as poem or short story with a secondary source, such as a piece of literary criticism or background essay giving historical context. We keep the focus on the meaning and the argument of the texts. Even poetry and fiction has an "argument" which needs to be attended to if one is really going to understand it.
We have done a lot of the leg work for teachers by sifting through the mass of materials on the web, culling the best, and editing them down to reasonable excerpts.
I teach kindergarten and we will be implementing the common core standards this year. I am looking forward to the complexity of teaching reading with my kindergarteners. I know we build the foundation for success and I want to make sure I am doing all I can to ensure success for my students. So, I look forward to trainings and resources for unpacking the standards in my room. Not sure of how I will add complexity to my reading instruction but complexity will definitely be added.
One thing seems clear. Teachers are going to have to teach much more complex texts at a early grade then they do now. And they are going to have to teach students how to read carefully for meaning.
For example it will no longer be enough to teach the Declaration of Independence as a string of "glittering generalities" such as "all men are created equal". Or to discuss the fact that Jefferson had slaves.
Teachers will have to show students that the Declaration is an argument, that it makes a case for the illegitimacy of King George as the ruler of a free people.