Saturday, January 4, 2014

Falling in Love with Close Reading and the CCSS

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This book has been on my to-be-read shelf for a few months. I am part of an Area 3 Writing Project inquiry group focused on reading practices in the classroom. Our group has teachers from a variety of grade levels, from Kindergarten through sixth grade as well as an administrator or two. We meet about once a month and just finished up Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer. After finishing that book, we decided to choose another book around reading practice, but we're not all reading the same book. Some are reading Notice and Note, some Reading in the Wild (also by Donalyn Miller) and I chose to read Falling in Love with Close Reading. I love that we're all choosing different books along the same theme-- modeling that choice that we should provide our students.

I'd been planning to read this book anyways, but had made a little promise to myself to limit "professional" type reading over the winter break. It's not that I don't love them- I do! But I can have a tendency to work and work and work, so taking a break from "work" type books is one way I convince myself I am on vacation.

Having said that, I feel that all of my reading is research for my job. I read all kinds of books, picture books, kid lit, Newbery hopefuls and more! I've loved reading over this break... but this book was still on my bedside table waiting to be read.

Then, last night, I read this Edutopia post on Facebook with some amazing ideas for incorporating technology and reading in the classroom. And I read the comments. Here's one:

"No whole book reading with Common Core. We need to stand up as teachers and say no to Common Core before we have another generation of children who cannot master college. Teachers are being set up and we are allowing it to happen. Wake up and speak up!!!"

Ugh. At first I felt mad. Then, I felt sad. I wondered how a teacher could feel this way about the Common Core. I know not everyone loves the new standards.

My guess is that whoever is leading the shift to common core where she lives just doesn't know. There are so many myths in any new education initiatives- whether it's the Common Core standards, or technology. I'm guessing that the message she's hearing is from her district or administrator. I hope this isn't the message you're hearing.

I don't know where she lives, but I am excited about the CCSS, as an administrator and lead learner. I'm excited for my teachers, and I was excited last year as a teacher. Maybe it's different other places, but I've been teaching in California my whole career. For 16 years it was all about teaching to the standards, using the adopted program, everyone teaching the same thing, the same size fits all.

I think the CCSS are a good thing. Finally, we're talking about authentic reading and writing. Reading and writing in the content areas. Finally, a common K-12 focus on reading and writing informational, argumentative, and narrative texts.

No more laundry list. No more friendly letter only in 2nd grade, never before or after.

If your district, administrators, or colleagues are telling you that common core equals scripted lessons, or no more whole book reading, this is an opportunity for you! Luckily some brilliant authors have already written some excellent books about exactly the kinds of practices the Common Core calls for. If you had to recommend one, I'd say Lucy Calkin's Pathways to the Common Core is a great one to start with. It gives a very thorough overview of the shift and what it means for our classrooms and our students.

Any of the books below are a great read no matter where you are in your shift to the Common Core. And check out the Edutopia post while you're at it!

After reading that particular post last night, I woke up today and read Falling in Love with Close Reading from beginning to end. There are so many things to love, but here is my favorite quote from the book:

"...the joy and power of reading across texts is not when you do it because a teacher told you to, or led you to the titles you should compare, but when you realize with stunning clarity that the book you are reading connects to others in enlightening ways." 

This is why we read. I love that the book shares strategies for reading closely and how reading closely can help us reflect on ourselves and our own lives.

Where is your school at in the shift to Common Core? Are you falling in love with reading?

1 comment:

  1. We seem to be lurching around with Common Core, unfortunately. A big complaint of us teachers right now is that our standards-based report cards are not aligned to our new state frameworks (based on Common Core) and there is not movement by the administration to start working on that. So, we implement our changes in the classroom but they are not reflected on the way we share information to parents or for the records. It's frustrating.
    PS -- I love the Close Reading book and reviewed it for Middleweb: