Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pathways to the Common Core: Part 2

Here is Part 2 on Pathways to the Common Core that I shared on my staff blog in my Monday Musings Post.

Monday Musings - Pathways to the Common Core: Part 2

Last week I shared my first reflection with you as I am reading Pathways to the Common Core. This week I'll share what I've learned about Reading Informational Texts. (I will warn you, since it is informational text, it is a "heavier" read than previous Monday Musing least it is for me!)

The common core standards have increased our expectations of how much informational text students read. They provide the following recommendation for reading
One important clarification here is that this does not mean  that the CCSS call for dramatically more nonfiction reading within the ELA classrooms/literacy block.  This literacy expectation should be shared responsibility across the content areas, meaning that 50% of a 4th grader's day (using the chart) would be reading informational text.

So, what is the CCSS expectations for reading informational text?  The CCSS emphasizes synthesis, evaluation, and comparative textual analysis. 

Got that?

I didn't.  What exactly does that mean?

Let's look at each standard...

The first 3 anchor standards for reading informational texts are the foundation for the rest of the reading work students will do.

Standard 1: Read closely and make logical inferences
This means reading the informational text to determine what it says and NOT focusing on how you can make connections to it.  This was a surprise to me, because I always taught my students to think of what they already know about the topic and make connections as they read.  However, the CCSS don't concern themselves with what you know, think you know, or how you feel about the topic.  You need to focus on what the text says explicitly.

Standard 2: Read to determine central ideas and themes
This standard asks readers to determine central ideas and summarize the text, linking key ideas and details.  This is hard to do if you didn't do standard 1 very well and you may have to go back and reread. (I found I had to go back to standard 1 several times as I read this book!)
To get to standard 2 you can ask yourself the same question that you would if you were reading fiction, "What is this article starting to be about?" Then as ideas emerge, gather up some of the information in the text as evidence for those ideas.

Standard 3: Reading to analyze how individuals, events and ideas develop and interact 
Here is where you need to notice the sequence of events, analyze relationships and connects and determine cause and effect.  As readers, you should be able to analyse all of the individuals and events and be able to see how they are connected.

I'm sure you've read enough by now, so here's a short summary of the rest (you can borrow my book if you want to read more!):
Standards 4-6 get into the the craft or how the text is written.
Standards 7-9 require the reader to integrate knowledge/ideas by reading other texts on the same topic.
Standard 10 read/comprehend those informational texts at grade level

If you've read this far, then I'd ask that you reflect on informational reading in your classroom...Are your students spending 50% of their reading each day in informational text? Are you teaching your students to apply reading skills aligned to these common core standards as they read informational text?  How do you support students that are reading below level to read and analyze informational text?


  1. Love how you are helping your staff to understand Pathways to the Common Core as well as the CCSS themselves. I think the book is so helpful, mainly in explaining what the Standards say & what they don't say. Is your staff doing a book study on Pathways? I wish our staff was; we are on overload, as most staffs probably are, with the CCSS and a new teacher evaluation system (Marzano's The Art and Science of Teaching).
    I really think you did a great job of distilling the major points of what you read to make it accessible to your staff. Love that you kept your post short, so as not to overwhelm your readers. Looking forward to going back and reading your first post.

  2. We have a small group of teachers reading this book at my school as well. A short book, but definitely not a quick read! We discussed the chapters on informational reading and writing this week too - heavy is right. Lots to think about in terms of text selection, classroom libraries, holding a high standard for writing often and well in all content areas. Good discussion about non-fiction that is actually literary text. Our language needs to change from fiction/non-fiction to literary/informational. Glad to hear another school is using this book to digest the changes with CCSS. :)

  3. What a great post, Jessica. Your staff is so lucky to have a leader so invested in thoroughly understanding the CCSS and in being a LEARNER!!! I can't wait to read your takeaways about writing since that's where I seem to be spending all of my time. Thanks for helping us all learn.


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