Teaching Reading to Meet State ELA Standards

As I listen to presentations on the new Common Core standards being rolled out all across the nation, it strikes me how important it is for all teachers to be strong teachers of reading and writing no matter what discipline they teach. No longer can teachers leave “teaching reading and writing” to the English or Language Arts teacher. Instead, each discipline will need to identify the texts (literary, expository/informational, functional) and writing types that belong to that subject area and be responsible for weaving those understandings and experiences into their own curriculum.   Students can no longer be taught to seek the “right” answer but instead will have to become deep thinkers and processors of knowledge. Asking students to read at higher levels and for more sustained periods of time has never been more important than it will be in meeting the new standards and preparing students for their future employment requirements. For years, teachers have complained that American Standards are a “mile wide and an inch deep.”  For the first time, American students will be expected to learn less (as in standard numbers) but to deeper and more profound levels. Teaching to deep levels of understanding and performance will be required for all students – not just the “gifted” or “Honors” level students. Unfortunately, I fear that too many teachers have not even begun to understand the massive change that will be taking place in our country as this unfolds in classrooms from coast to coast. Although many will be dragged” kicking and screaming” into this era,  the wisest and most competent among our ranks will embrace the change and quietly continue doing what they have been doing – setting the bar high and immersing their students in print of all types. Here’s to you – those of you who have led the charge and demanded so much of your students – your day will finally be coming.