Twitter this morning had a link to an article entitled "Common Core Checklist: What to Know Before You Buy." How nice of CCSS to tell me what to buy. Predictably, the checklist for ELAR was a recitation of the CCSS doctrine (here is the link to the article, see for yourself: http://www.techlearning.com/magazine/0007/site-we-like-race-in-the-usa/53649). It is all about evaluating PROGRAMS on a tech site. I was hoping for maybe some insight into APPS and not PROGRAMS. Is this app more than simply a worksheet online or on the screen? Is this an app that extends beyond the text and offers something extra (if not, why have it)? Is this an app that will work in a classroom that is not fortunate enough to have 1:1 tablet access? Is it a mobile app that could be used on a cell phone (since they are more available in the classrooms I visit)? Better yet, is this an app whose underpinnings aligns not with CCSS but with what we know works to motivate and engage readers, to build community, to create more independence? If not, why should I spend time buying it and learning all about it? Why not invest instead in buying BOOKS? Invest in readers.
Yesterday I watched a how-to guide for close reading that just about brought me to my knees. The page of text looked very much like a madman with markers and sticky notes and pencils had just decided to create art from a static page of text. Is this how we do close reading in real life (or as Donalyn Miller's new book indicates "in the wild")? If this is truly what we want teachers to do, promise me this: use the classics, please. Do not mess with YA or children's books and ruin the reading experience. Go ahead and mark up something that is hundreds of years old and inaccessible to kids today (because it is no longer relevant) and leave the GOOD books alone. Kids deserve to read without having to have utensils in hand. They deserve to read and NOT DO A DARNED THING. They have the right to just read. Now, I think that I wll go practice what I preach: time to start a new book. No markers necessary.