August 21, 2014

5 Questions for Closely Reading the Reading Standards

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Anchor standard one for Reading says:

Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from text.

This particular standard has placed renewed emphasis on the close examination of text, causing great arousal in the educational community about “close readings.” Perhaps, the days of superficial readings are gone; we have entered an era where the focus in reading is deep meaning.

Reading for deep meaning requires that educators adjust their instruction in many ways, such as allowing more time for students to collaborate with peers as they think about text, scaffolding reading experiences so that students can read across topics and build knowledge, and asking thought-provoking text-based questions.

Because we know that powerful questions can help readers achieve deep levels of understanding, we have compiled a list of text-based questions that can support your close readings of the Common Core Reading Anchor Standards. Pick one, mix-and-match, or work through them all in an order that works for you. You can use these questions to support your independent investigations of the Common Core, or you can take the questions into your learning communities to explore them with colleagues.  
Text-Based Questions About the Common Core Reading Standards

1. In what ways do the Common Core Reading Standards support critical thinking?

Look at the language of the Common Core.  What words are in the standards that really make you think, and even practice the habit of thinking critically? Notice words like interpret, determine, integrate, assess, etc.

2. What can we expect our students to do differently at the beginning of the year as readers than at the end of a year of work aligned to the Common Core?

Look at the grade level achievement standards for the grade you teach and the grade that precedes the grade you teach. What do you notice? What do you wonder?

3. How does the Common Core clarify what it means to “read closely”?

Read through standards 2-9. Each implies suggestions of ways to read a text closely.  For example if you look at standard two, which says, “ Determine central ideas of the text or themes of a text and analyze their development,” it is suggesting that exploring themes is one lens for close reading.  

4. According to the Common Core, what are the factors that contribute to students’ “future success?“

Note what is written in the sidebars of the Common Core State Standards documents.  Be sure to read the sidebar across the whole document, as answering this question in its entirety means linking several ideas across pages.

5. In what ways do the Common Core State Standards align with your purposes and beliefs about teaching children to read and write? What are the implications for you and your students?

Think about your vision of students as lifelong readers and articulate participants in a literate society. Look for places where the Common Core supports or interferes with your paradigms for literacy instruction.

Closing Thoughts
As you explore these questions during close readings of the anchor standards, we would love to hear about your discoveries and insights.  Also, in the spirit of collaboration, please share any additional questions you develop or suggestions for revisions to ours, as we all experiment with ways to support each other in our common quest “to understand!”

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