The new Common Core Standards look to me like pretty good ladders, already close to being broken down to the individual steps students will need to climb--as I explained in my earlier post today.
On the other hand, tackling those standards one at a time looks just about impossible. There are ten anchor standards for reading, ten for writing, six for speaking and listening, and six for language (including spelling, grammar, and related elements), and reading is broken down into varied versions (literary, informational, history, science) at different levels.
Instead, classroom implementation is going to require creative combinations of standards into larger units of study. For example, students might spend four weeks exploring a major science question. The process could include reading, structured discussions, note-taking, and developing both sturdy short written reports and engaging presentations. That unit can move students forward on several reading standards, several writing standards, and sections of the speaking and listening requirements--as well as the science itself.
Working out those combinations and planning student work that moves up three or four of those standards-ladders simultaneously will be a major undertaking for educators in Kentucky and all the other states moving into Common Core implementation.
For me, this is a big shift in thinking about the work ahead. If breaking down the individual standards now seems like relatively minor work, knitting together multiple standards into classroom plans looks like the main challenge of the weeks and months ahead.