Here is the first shift for ELA: Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction and informational texts. I am puzzled, perplexed, stymied. My charge as an ELA teacher is to build knowledge. It seems to me that most of the knowledge I will be building with (and I love this distinction) informational and nonfiction texts will eb content-area knowledge. Somehow, I think this knowledge would be better built within the content area themselves. Sure, I can reinformce that knowledge in ELAR, but how do I ensure this is coordinated with the content folks? The call for academic vocabulary seems to me (from the examples provided) to be content area as well. I certainly have my own academic vocabulary. I use it with students, too. But content area vocab?
Practice with complex text is another shift identified by CCSS. Using evidence from texts, answering text-based questions are included here. And my question is: have we not been doing this already? I just do not see this as a shift from my own practice as a middle school teacher. I will admit, though, that I did not use text beyond grade level often, certainly not beyond where my students were at the time. If kids cannot access text, how can they practice? Or how will the practice benefit kids?
I am not trying to be provocative here. I am asking questions that occur to me as I read information over and over again, scouring text for clues I might have missed every time I see contradiction. I think that there is confusion because: 1) the shifts are NOT different from what we have done with reading and writing with the possible exception of more use of nonfiction; and 2) the assessments I have seen do not align with the shifts. My cognitive dissonance is real. I fear it is even more alarming for kids, too.
So, I will keep reading. I hope that soon all will click into place and the whole picture will be clearer to me. For right now, it is a jumble of bits and pieces many of which contradict one another.