Recently, I was confronted with a few standards from the new Common Core that gave me pause:
Reading Informational 11-12 grade band #8
|Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. texts, including the application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning (e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court majority opinions and dissents) and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy (e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses).|
Reading Informational 11-12 grade band #9
Analyze seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century foundational U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (including The Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address) for their themes, purposes, and rhetorical features
Wow! So, are ELA teachers supposed to be teaching what traditionally used to be social studies material? Check out this "Common Core Myths" document:
Myth: English teachers will be asked to teach science and social studies reading materials.
Fact: With the Common Core ELA Standards, English teachers will still teach their students literature as well as literary non-fiction. However, because college and career readiness overwhelmingly focuses on complex texts outside of literature, these standards also ensure students are being prepared to read, write, and research across the curriculum, including in history and science. These goals can be achieved by ensuring that teachers in other disciplines are also focusing on reading and writing to build knowledge within their subject areas.
Myth: The Standards don’t have enough emphasis on fiction/literature.
Fact: The Standards require certain critical content for all students, including: classic myths and stories from around the world, America’s Founding Documents, foundational American literature, and Shakespeare. Appropriately, the remaining crucial decisions about what content should be taught are left to state and local determination. In addition to content coverage, the Standards require that students systematically acquire knowledge in literature and other disciplines through reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
Researching the background of this standard really made me think about my own strengths and limitations as an educator. I need to beef up my background knowledge on texts (the seminal US texts) I haven't taught in the past to provide students with a well-rounded view of literacy. When we raise the rigor for students, sometimes we have to raise it for ourselves.
I'd encourage all of us to give a close read of the standards and focus on something with which we're not entirely comfortable. Don't be surprised; dig in! What seems intimidating at first may hold great possibility!