-Meeting with small groups! We have such great discussions!
-Watching my students become strategic and successful readers!
-The EXCITEMENT of beginning readers!
With that said, I have been teaching reading in a first or second grade classroom for the last 10 years! I have grown A LOT as a reading and writing teacher. And… I have actually come to embrace and enjoy the common core standards. I know it’s not perfect and it lacks some heart – But, overall, I am a supporter. AND… NO, I am not being paid to say that!! Ha.
1. I LOVE the fact that every state, except Texas and Virginia, have the same standards and expectations. There are SO many more resources available to me as a teacher!
2. I LOVE the fact that there are not prescribed plans. I can take the standards and use the interests and desires of my students to drive my instruction. I love teaching with a theme… it makes learning so much more fun! It is the best when my students have no idea that they are learning because they are having so much fun. Last year I incorporated Apples, Spiders, Bats, Worms, Rainforest Animls, Arctic Animals, Holidays, Snow, Penguins, Plants, and SO MUCH MORE! ALL while learning to apply reading strategies and skills AND the COMMON CORE STANDARDS! The Common Core doesn’t tell me HOW to teach. It gives me the science of what my students need to know. It’s up to me to ignite a passion and a love for reading.
3. I like that there isn’t an overemphasis on assessment. That’s determined by each state… And, I’m sure the topic of assessments could begin an entirely different discussion!!!!
4. I LOVE the fact that the Common Core Standards are a few pages. The Kentucky Core Content, that I once followed, filled up my ENTIRE binder! It was nice tossing that thing in the garbage.
5. I don’t feel that the standards expect more of my students or me than before! The comprehension strategies that I MUST teach my students to apply are just as important as ever before. I know that I must develop phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. It’s ALL still there, and has always been there. I basically see the same things but in different language… In the Common Core I don’t see the words building background knowledge, predictions, visualization, and making connections. However, this is what I know…
- We ALL visualize as we read. The standards require students to use text evidence to “ask and answer questions about key details in the text”. They are also required to make “logical inferences”. That just isn’t possible without visualization.
- I am also a firm believer in the fact that making predictions and building schema is a natural process. When we teach our students to read for meaning, they apply these skills naturally.
- I really like the fact that we don’t see the term “making connections”. I can’t tell you how many times, in the past, my students have made meaningless connections that have not aided in their understanding of the text. (i.e. I like the color red and the character does, too!) What we DO see is that the standards requires our students to compare and contrast. When students are comparing characters, settings, themes, etc…. They are making text-to-text connections. They are spending more time INSIDE the text. We also see students being required to identify character traits, determine how characters change, analyze character interactions, and character motivations. When students are analyzing characters they have to RELATE to the character. And… sometimes it’s just as beneficial to say, “This character is nothing like me.”
6. I really LOVE how the standards are organized. I can now easily “gear up” a lesson or activity! You see… I teach first grade! BUT, that doesn’t mean that my students are ALL working on the same skills and strategies. My students have many different needs and it is my JOB to meet those needs and design instruction and activities to move them forward in their learning journey. For example, this year I was ready to spend a week working on identifying the main idea and key details. This was my first grade standard…
RI.1.2 – Identify the main topic and retell key details of the text.
You see, this was perfect for most of my students. However, I had a group of 8 students who had already mastered this skill! Was I going to reinforce the skill that they had already mastered for an entire week? No way! So, I took a look at the second grade standard…
RI.2.2 – Identify the main topic of a multiparagraph text as well as the focus of specific paragraphs within the text.
Easy peasy…. ALL of my students were being CHALLENGED and experiencing success!!! You can read a little more about my Main Idea and Detail unit HERE.
Overall, I’ve spent a LOT of time digging into the standards and creating new units and activities that meet the standards, challenge my students, and keep them engaged and having FUN! My favorite resources are my Extravaganza units because they incorporate fun themes while still teaching the standards.
In my classroom, I try to make the reading/writing connection whenever possible. I also require my students to SHOW their thinking! My students do a TON of activities that require them to make meaning and show their thinking by responding to various texts. Every year I’m always searching through files and trying to remember where I put different reading response resources… So, I finally decided to put all of my reading response printables and activities in one place.
Here are a few of the highlights:
1. Can be used with ANY story or reading series!
2. Aligned to the Common Core Standards (Grades 1-3)
3. All Literature Standards are covered (Grades 1-3)
4. Clear and simple “I Can” statements are listed at the top of each printable.
5. Organized by standard and skill! No more searching!!
6. Can be used during whole group, guided reading groups, or for independent practice.
7. Perfect for “gearing up” (Grades 1-2) when students have a standard or skill at their level mastered.
Here’s a HUGE close up look of some of the printables that match up with each standard…
If you are interested you can find this bundle HERE…
And…. If you like teaching with a theme as much as me, you can save BIG by purchasing my Extravaganza Bundle! I finally took the time to put all of my thematic units in one place!!!