Many people see the changes to the math section of the Common Core as even more significant and transformative than the new literacy standards. I recently learned that the math standards have a special part that the literacy standards do not—they are helmed by the eight "standards for mathematical practice."
The eight math practices "describe varieties of expertise that mathematics educators at all levels should seek to develop in their students. These practices rest on important 'processes and proficiencies' with longstanding importance in mathematics education." They serve as "habits of mind" that students should have when approaching math work, K-12 and beyond.
I've been thinking of ways these "math practices" apply to our literacy work:
1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
As literacy teachers, we want students to make sense of the reading and writing tasks they are being asked to complete and persevere in getting them done. When they face a difficult book, we ask them to embrace the struggle and work hard to get through a text.
2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
Poems are abstract, themes are abstract, and some books are long and require concentration.
3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
Students should be able to argue their assertions clearly and analyze the work of others with precision.
4. Model with mathematics.
Students should be able to "model" with literature—they should apply the lessons of texts they've read to what they’re reading in the future (text to text, text to world, text to self).
5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
Literacy students should be able to use both physical tools (highlighters, Post-Its) and metacognitive tools (questioning, predicting, context clues) to self-monitor their comprehension.
6. Attend to precision.
Write neatly, use good penmanship, and say what you mean!
7. Look for and make use of structure.
It's important for student to know the text structures of their reading: Web site? Poem? Novel? Textbook? Knowing structure helps the reader decide how to read.
8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning
Identifying rhetorical modes helps students comprehend. Where have I seen this sort of compare/contrast work before? How did I previously understand it? This repeated reasoning helps readers productively struggle with texts.
I think it would be an interesting idea for a school district's literacy teachers (read: EVERYONE) to come up with a succinct list of "literacy practices" they will stress with their students. If everyone adheres to similar values, it would help students see literacy more clearly.
Article from NPR on reading to pre-schoolers
This story shares how researchers cut the achievement gap by asking pre-schoolers questions about the text during guided reading. Check it out!
People to follow on Twitter
Twitter is a great way to stay informed about literacy topics. Here are just a few of the people I follow:
Please feel free to send me who you follow at firstname.lastname@example.org.