Reading Anchor Standard 10
Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
In yesterday’s post, we discussed the confusion caused by the term “complex” in anchor standard ten. Today, we turn our attention to the other half of this standard that says that children need to read these complex texts “independently and proficiently.” As if the confusion about complex text was not enough, educators are once again taxed by ambiguous Common Core language that leaves them with more questions than answers.
Of the two words that we are stressed with, “independently” seems the more straightforward of the two. In most people’s minds, independence is when we sever the ties that support us and set out to accomplish something relying on our own abilities and skills. So, at some point, there is scaffolding with grade level complex text but by the end of the year, children should be able to read complex text on their own.
But this is where things get a bit dicey. How, as teachers, do we ensure that this happens? With classrooms that present us with varying abilities ranging from highly capable to well-below grade level, how do we ensure that we move students to this place of independence? And how then, do we make sure that they are “proficient” when we release them?
In Appendix A, the authors criticize current schooling for not having “done enough to foster the independent reading of complex texts so crucial to college and career readiness, particularly in the case of informational texts.” The authors assert that “K-12 students are, in general, given considerable scaffolding” in text “that is already less complex overall than that typically required of students prior to 1962.” However, in a footnote regarding this assertion, the authors state, “it is important to recognize that scaffolding is entirely appropriate. The expectation that scaffolding will occur with particularly challenging texts is built into the Standards’ grade-by-grade text complexity expectations.”
The information in Appendix A perpetuates the confusion about how much scaffolding is the right amount but the bottom line remains that we must keep our eye on what really matters here: independence. The following is our top three tips for helping children to become more independent readers:
Three Tips for Helping Children Become More Independent Readers
1. Expose them to a lot of text.
One of the biggest obstacles to accessing grade level complex text is language. The more words you know, the more complex the text you can read. The more complex the text you can read, the more words you will know…and from there you can see how the cycle perpetuates. In order to get better at reading, children need to practice! They also need to hear above-grade-level texts read aloud, a lot!
2. Let them practice using texts at their independent and instructional reading level.
In spite of all of the battling going on about how much challenging text children need to be reading, most children’s literature provides children access to language far more sophisticated than the language used in everyday, spoken language. In a quick perusal of Cynthia Rylant’s illustrated picture book An Angel for Solomon Singer , we find words like “wandered” and “balcony.” Patricia Polacco’s Thunder Cake uses words like “croaked” and “rumbled” and “luscious.” Children’s literature is ripe with a multitude of language learning possibilities. And what’s more, when children read books that are easy and just-right, not only does reading feel palatable, it’s inviting. The more students want to read, the more they will read. The more they will read. The more words they will learn. The more words they learn, the more complex text students will be able to read.
3. Provide them really thoughtful guidance during shared reading of grade-level texts.
Reading has never been as simple as giving children books and asking them to roll around on the carpet and read them (if only!). In order to get better, children need people to guide them with prompts and supports that help them to troubleshoot problems as they arise, which means that teachers need to continue to scaffold readers by pointing out features they may not have noticed on cursory, superficial first reads and provide thought-provoking questions that help children consider the implied meanings layered into complex text.
More on “proficiency” tomorrow.