Tag Archives: English Language Arts

NY Teacher William Johnson: Not Happy About Common Core in English Classrooms

This is another great post over at What is Common Core on the English Language Arts Common Core standards.

Why do the folks behind the Common Core think domain-specific vocabulary isn’t important when it comes to English? Again, the language used to describe the new Common Core approach highlights the ways that these standards will change the goal of English study from understanding and mastery of literature and literary writing to “constantly build[ing] students’ ability to access more complex texts across the content areas.” In other words, the goal of English class will become helping students read texts for their other subject areas — the ones that really matter, like math.

…Unfortunately, the folks behind the Common Core have made it abundantly clear that they see little value in having students understand literature.

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“Insipid Brew of Gobbledy-Gook” – Professor Laura Gibbs on Common Core Writing Standards

We came across this piece over at Common Core, and we wanted to encourage people to check it out.

I believe very much in the teaching of skills, but the blah-blah-blah of these standards does not give me a vocabulary of skills I can use to develop a curriculum and inspire my students to see themselves as skilled writers. Instead, I see here an insipid brew of gobbledy-gook that MASQUERADES as being a sequence of standards, but really – what is happening here between Grades 6 and 12, during six years of students’ lives as writers? I would really like to hear from any teachers out there who find the way these standards are written to be helpful in any way, shape or form in guiding a writing curriculum:

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Problems with the Common Core English Standards

I came across this great article from University of Arkansas professor Sandra Stotsky on the Common Core English Language Arts standards. She really hits on something I have been struggling with in figuring out how to approach with my middle school students. While some of my advanced students will probably be able to eventually grasp the writing expectations, the bulk of the students, I would argue 50-75% of them, will never quite get there. The writing standards are set ridiculously high with regards to the cognitive ability of the average middle school student.

At first glance the standards don’t leap out as a problem. Take, for example, Common Core’s first writing standard for grades six, seven and eight (almost identical across grades): “Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.” This goal undoubtedly sounds reasonable to adults, who have a much better idea of what “claims” are, what “relevant evidence” is and even what an academic “argument” is. But most children have a limited understanding of this meta-language for the structure of a composition.

So I explored Common Core’s standards for reading informational text in grades three, four and five (and then in grades six, seven and eight) and discovered nothing on what a claim or an argument is, or on distinguishing relevant from irrelevant evidence. In other words, the grades six, seven and eight writing standards are not coordinated with reading standards in grades three to eight that would require children to read the genre of writing their middle-school teachers are expecting them to compose. Middle-school teachers are being compelled by their grade-level standards to ask their students to do something for which the students will have to use their imaginations.

The whole article is very much worth your time: Common Core Standards: Which Way for Indiana

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