Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The common core sees content as central to reading success

In the Washington Post, E.D. Hirsch explains the big strength he sees in the most recent draft of the common core literacy standards:
Note the unusual title it carries: “Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies & Science.” The title shouts that language mastery requires knowledge of history, and science, (music and fine arts I hope will be included in due course) not just fiction and poetry. It states explicitly that these non-literary subjects should be generously represented in the long classroom hours devoted to literacy.

This emphasis on non-literary content is defended on the grounds that building “a foundation of knowledge in these fields will give [students] the background to be better readers in all content areas.”

That is an especially important consideration for the early grades, which now spend up to half the school day on literacy. Here is something new under the sun. It resists the infamous narrowing of the curriculum. And it is an important reform also for helping to overcome the test-score gap, which is essentially a knowledge gap, between racial and ethnic groups.
Last year, I worked on describing the same link this way:
Finally, this idea is why I'm obsessed with serious content from the earliest days of school. I want it taught anyway that works, from seeing plants grow to building models of the solar system, from acting out the Mayflower to sharing songs about Abraham Lincoln. That work helps students begin building a mental web of reading-and-science, and reading-and-history, and reading-and-economics. The stronger that web is early, the more prepared they will be to use books later in school to get more knowledge, with depth and detail, connected to the topics they understand early on.

1 comment:

  1. Let's hope that teachers realize there's more history out there than just anglo - AA students find it hard to relate to early american history because their ancestors weren't involved in the founding of our country and were brought here as slaves. I agree that literacy needs to be interwoven among all subject areas, but in order for this to be successful with all students, we teachers have to be willing to teach how all cultures have influenced our literacy.


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