professornana (professornana) wrote,
professornana
professornana

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Pushing and Shoving

Is it my imagination or has there been a LOT about CCSS this week on Twitter and in the news? Bill Gates appeared to walk back from the report his foundation funded (MET) and say that VAM and other data should be just ONE measure of a teacher's effectiveness. On the other hand, several companies have posted blogs and done interviews about how they can help implement the standards. Organizations involved in literacy seem to be ignoring CCSS and talking about "remodeling" literacy. What a fascinating week.

It is tough to single out one, but I liked this piece of a Q and A on CCSS found here: http://us-mg4.mail.yahoo.com/neo/launch?.rand=2gi1uiiqco0ts. It is a series of the most often asked questions. Here is question #4 and the answer provided:

“Are students expected to read the exemplars in Appendix B?”

No. The titles in Appendix B merely serve as guideposts in helping teachers select texts of similar complexity, quality, and range in a given grade band. They are suggestive of the breadth of texts that students should encounter in various text types, including stories, poetry, drama, and informational texts.


So, here is the "breadth" given for middle school kids:

10 “stories” which are basically excerpts from texts by Paterson, Yep, Cisneros, Hamilton, Taylor, Sutcliff, and Cooper.
2 plays one of which is Diary of Anne Frank
15 poems only 2 from living poets
5 informational texts which focus on historical figures

This is BREADTH? Well, I guess there is breadth in the Lexile scores for the "stories." They range from 440 to 1300. At either end, they are totally out of the ranges provided by CCSS. As for the poems, this is National Poetry Month. I can think of hundreds if not more poems that would be appropriate for middle school kids. Drama IS a tough category although I know of some excellent resources for plays that apparently CCSS does not. And with the emphasis on informational texts, there are a measly 5 listed here. To be fair and totally honest, these are the exemplars for ELAR only. They list other titles for science and social studies. Of course, that is odd since the 5 texts listed for ELAR are all about historical figures, too. How did they draw that distinction, I wonder?

I still would like to see more of a discussion about elusive terms such as QUALITY and COMPLEXITY. It seems as though COMPLEXITY is a measurement (lexile and ATOS) while QUALITY means written by dead people. The exception is under "stories" where longer works are being excerpted for classroom use except in the case of the picture book (Paterson's TALE OF THE MANDARIN DUCKS) and the short story (ELEVEN by Sandra Cisneros).

As the push back is being met by shoves forward, perhaps it is better to stop the pushing and shoving. Perhaps it is better to sit and consider some more. Perhaps it would be good to involve actual classroom teachers in the process. Perhaps, just perhaps, it would be best to examine best practices and to provide PD on those practices. Perhaps it is best to keep our eyes on the prize: the kids.
Tags: ccss, exemplars
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