In Part 1 of this series, we discussed how the writing standards explicitly addressed the importance of practice in anchor standard 10, clearly communicating to educators that the only way to produce clear, coherent arguments, narrative, and informative texts is through dedicating large amounts of time to practice. When looking at the reading standards, the importance of practice is not as cut and dry. The closest this section of the Common Core comes to explicit is in the sidebar on page 10 that reads, “through extensive reading of stories, dramas, poems, and myths…” The word “extensive” connotes that a lot of reading is necessary in order to achieve these standards, however, unlike the writing standards, which include a standard that directly addresses the importance of practice, the need for reading practice is far more implicit in the reading standards.
In this two-part post, we will look at each segment of the reading standards as we consider whether or not the Common Core goes far enough in extending the message that practice is imperative if students are to achieve the standards outlined by the Common Core.
Key Ideas and Details
1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing and speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development, summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
3. Analyze how and why individuals, events and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
These three standards of the Common Core seem to suggest that reading volume is developed in part by reading slowly and carefully. These standards support the practice of thinking while reading implying that reading practice should not be narrowly defined as reading lots of books, but also should include thinking and re-reading as part of the definition. Re-reading and thinking while reading are not tasks that are achieved in short spans of time. These efforts require readers to dedicate significant amounts of time. So, with regard to our original question about whether the reading standards honor practice, we think they do. While there aren’t explicit references to practice in the Common Core State Standards, students won’t meet these standards unless they have a lot of time with text.
Craft and Structure
4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning and tone.
5. Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of a text (e.g. a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
6. Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
Like the first three standards that we explored, these three reading anchor standards from the Common Core continue to emphasize the importance of re-reading and thinking. These standards value depth of understanding thereby placing great emphasis on the process of meaning-making. Standard five refers to “texts” in the plural indicating to readers that the expectation is that students will not do this with only one text but several. With regard to honoring practice, once again, these three standards seem to advocate for the kind of practice that helps students hone their critical thinking skills through close, careful analysis.
However, is this sort of practice myopic? Is there a place in the standards that supports that “extensive” reading alluded to in the sidebar on page 10? More on that tomorrow as we look at the remaining four reading standards of the Common Core.