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The year is 1996.  I take a huge shaky breath and walk into the classroom. Smiling a welcome, the experienced teacher directs me to a small table. Ten small pairs of eyes gather around me, anxious and just as unsure as I am. I open up the teacher manual and read from the script. We look at the 18 inch by 24 inch chart. A “story” is printed for us to reference.  As I use the wooden pointer to follow the text, the students read together aloud. We complete the lesson working through lower level understanding and basic recall. I smile; they smile and leave the table to return back to their class. Phew, reading instruction is done. I quietly gather my few items, leave the room and head down the hallway to assist in reading instruction with another group in need.

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Teaching is an ever shifting pendulum. Throughout my seventeen years in the classroom, I have seen ideas come, go, and return with praise only to later be rejected again. I have discussed these changes and “new” ideas with teachers who have been in the classroom even longer than I, and what I have found is: education changes. We do not control that. There are many things in our profession we do not control.  What we do control is our attitudes. Agree or disagree with these standards, it is your professional responsibility to teach them to your students. Find your niche. Find your passion. Find what interests you and present this information to your kids. Use the resources that excite you. Use the methodology that you love. Push yourself and be an example of learning. The students will see that fire and be inspired to go farther than they think they can. Step up and teach!

The standards were different when I began teaching in 1996. Just as hair styles, music, technology and clothing have changed so have the standards we are teaching. This series will highlight the Career and Readiness Common Core Standards and provide you with suggestions to bridge your old lessons into the standards. This is the list of the anchor standards for English Language Arts in reading from  Each grade level has more specific standards.  These are the main ideas and connecting thoughts though.  As you read the list think about what you are already doing and start from there.

Key Ideas and Details

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1 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 the text.

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Craft and Structure

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.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 or tone.

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.5 Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.1

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity

• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Key ideas and details are about looking at the text. My first grader is currently making connections to EVERYTHING. “Hey mom, I made a text to self-connection. Hey mom, I made a text to world connection. Hey mom! If they are having a birthday in the book and I remember we had a birthday party for Monkey (the 2-year-old) is that text to self?” We are already teaching kids to look at the text.  We have been teaching kids to look at details. We have been asking kids to find theme and idea. Key ideas and details use these concepts and push them beyond understanding and recall.  Great teachers are already asking their students to analyze the characters, setting, events, and story plot. These standards ask us to continue to do what we are doing and move the bar to analysis, evaluation, and synthesis.

  • As you read, write down things you know that the author does not tell you.  Make a list of these inferences.  Use phrases, paragraphs, or chapters to support your thinking.  Remember to include page numbers from the text you use.  How do they help you understand the story?
  • What is the central theme of the story?  How do you know this?  Use phrases, paragraphs, or chapters to support your thinking.  Remember to include page numbers from the text you use. Make a list of other stories you know that have this theme.  Pick one story from the list and compare it to our story.
  • Draw a picture of the character in the beginning of the book and the end of the book.  Explain how they have changed.  What phrases, paragraphs, or chapters support your ideas? Remember to include page numbers from the text you use.

Craft and structure is about word play, something I love. Understanding similes, metaphors, idioms, and using word play in language. This is the vocabulary component of reading. Look at the activities you have done on point of view, text structure, tone, and word choice. Layer questions and activities over these to lead students to apply the knowledge to discuss and provide examples of how the author’s words impacted their reading, compare sections of text to each other and relating to the whole piece, and ask students to evaluate what the author did well in their word choice and what they did not do well. Play with words. Have fun and learn about the language through text.

  • Make a list of (insert figurative language type here).  Use the text to determine the meaning.  Remember to include page numbers from the text you use.  Draw a picture of the literal and figurative meaning.
  • Make a list of new to you vocabulary words.  Use the text to determine the meaning.  Remember to include page numbers from the text you use.  Find the meaning in a dictionary and draw something from the story to represent the word.
  • What text structure does the author use for this text?  What impact does that have on your understanding?  Use phrases, paragraphs, or chapters to support your thinking.  Remember to include page numbers from the text you use.
  • What point of view is this story told from?  How do you know?  phrases, paragraphs, or chapters to support your thinking.  Remember to include page numbers from the text you use.  How would the story be different if it were told from another point of view?

Integration of knowledge and ideas pushes our standards into the 21st century. Find media in many forms. There are apps and web sites and audiobooks and video clips that students learn from today. Push them to think about their thinking and how they learn. Look at the evidence that supports themes and topics. Pull in higher order thinking skills here and push your students to compare, question, evaluate text.

  • Present students with two different forms of a piece (audio, video, poem, etc.).  How does the different form impact your understanding of the piece?  How does each make you feel?  Give two examples of appropriate audience for each form.
  • Find a companion book (fiction for a non-fiction piece and non-fiction for a fiction piece) that supports the idea or theme of the story.  What makes this a companion book for this story?  Compare the two text.
  • Find a song that matches the theme of the story.  Compare the song and the story.  What makes it a match for this text?
  • Present students with two pieces on the same theme.  How does each author feel about the theme?  Use phrases, paragraphs, or chapters to support your thinking.  Remember to include page numbers from the text you use.  Give two examples of appropriate audiences for each text.

Range of reading and level of text complexity is picking a book from a different section your library. We all tend to get rely on authors and genre we love. Push yourself and your students to look beyond your usual reading. What is another author that uses the same theme or style? Sport, my teen, has never been a reader. His reading ability is well above grade level, but left to his own devices he reads magazines and non-fiction books. This year his English teacher is guiding him to expand his range of reading. He can read the non-fiction companion that he finds based on the book list she has required for classic literature. This bridge will allow him to read things he loves but push him to read outside of his comfort level. It may not teach him to love “Romeo and Juliette”, but it will expand his reading. What new books can you add to your classroom list?

Personally, I struggle with change. I like to know what to expect. I like things to remain the same. But in education things are never standing still. Looking through the big ideas of the Career and Readiness Common Core Standards pushes me outside of my comfort zone. But this push allows me to step up for kids. It allows me to continue to bring higher level thinking activities into my room. It allows me to continue to teach. And that is why I am here.

This too shall pass. I know that. It is part of an ever swinging pendulum of education and we are on a peak. Find things you love. Incorporate new text and new activities. Learn about higher level thinking or expand your activities about higher level thinking. These standards will ask more of your kids.  Asking more increases thinking.  Take this opportunity.  Step up and teach![/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Lori Rice is a fourth-grade teacher at West Elementary in Wamego, Kansas, who has taught K-2 reading...

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