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October 31, 2011


If you or your readers want to know more, please check out this book: http://www.hepg.org/hep/book/146/SomethingInCommon

I'm a supporter of CCSS and especially the move to dramatically increase the amount of nonfiction in children's educational diet. Doing so, and increasing the amount of knowledge children possess about the world around them will have a beneficial impact on kids' ability to read with comprehension at large (to understand why, see Dan Willingham's video "Teaching Content is Teaching Reading" on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiP-ijdxqEc)

While I support the move away from personal responses and reflection toward writing about more substantial topics, here's how you could get schools to do this overnight without CCSS: get colleges to stop asking for personal essays and start asking for two samples of analytical writing, graded by teachers, as part of their application process. Once it became clear to parents and teachers that their children's college prospects were intertwined with their ability to produce original works of meaningful scholarship, built on close reading and careful analysis, the change in classroom practice would be far reaching and instantaneous.

The issue is not so much "are the ELA tasks described above pretty good ones," as "is answering the above questions a complete K-12 ELA curriculum?" OK, not just the eight odd questions outlined above, but I bet that covers more than half the threads outlined in the CCRS standards, and the rest are very similar.

This is much, much more limited -- to academic textual analysis -- than what high performing countries do. Anyone ask Coleman about that?

Very good point, Robert, about the power of college application essays in setting the curriculum agenda.

Tom--I hear what you are saying. What practices do you think are most worth borrowing from other nations, when it comes to ELA?

Thanks for posting this information about the CCS. I believe curriculum should ALWAYS be the big focus in education, but is, as you just discovered with the CCS, widely ignored.

If anyone wants to view more information on the CCS from David Coleman, there's some items worth viewing on the instructional shifts it entails here: http://engageny.org/common-core/

Also, here's my post on the critical first step that the CCS represent in moving towards the building of a coherent curriculum: http://gothamschools.org/2011/09/07/curriculum-part-iii-on-core-curriculum-and-standards/

Hi Dana,

It isn't even like we have to borrow some new practices. The question is why are we dramatically narrowing the scope and purpose of the discipline of English to be limited to academic textual analysis?

Why is genre excluded from the standards? Why is rhetoric? Why do the standards essentially allow any kind of "analysis" to be given equal value?

Understand that the whole issue of non-fiction vs. fiction is a distractor. That question is outside the issue of the standards. It is an issue of curriculum. To the extent that we're talking about that, we're not thinking about the actual standards, which are the problem.

The goal of these standards is fundamentally more narrow than that of high performing countries.

The structure of each standard as a narrow, testable task is fundamentally different than that of high performing countries.

The organization of these standards is fundamentally different from those of high performing countries.

The scope of the standards is radically more narrow than those of high performing countries.

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