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Engaging Common Core: Reading for Key Ideas and Details

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Following is a post (first in a series on breaking down the Common Core ) from guest blogger Susan Weston, a Kentucky education consultant who often works with the Prichard Committee:

For anyone working on public engagement around the Common Core State Standards, I have a recommendation: share the text. In particular, share the college and career readiness anchor standards, defining what students ought to know and be able to do by the end of high school.

I don't mean trying to turn every audience into experts on the details, but I do mean trying to give every audience a clear sense that CCSS is a real, printed, settled document that they can read and figure out. For almost any audience of parents or business leaders or citizen volunteers. I think that's in reach.

As soon as he asked me to do some guest blogging here, Stu asked me to also share some thinking I've worked on in Kentucky about how to do that. So, in five steps so quick I can do them in a single post, here's how I'd start.

First, share some original text:

1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Second, explain the basic basics about the text:

In the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the three sentences above are the first three reading standards. More exactly, they are the first of college and career readiness anchor standards, defining what we want students to know and be able to do by the end of high school.

Third, add one further detail:

To reach those anchor standards, students will need to move up a ladder of standards specific to different grades and subjects, and Common Core also shows how the skills should develop over time. For example, to meet the overall Standard 2, students should be able to:

• Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson" in grade 1.

• Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text" in grade 5.

• Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text" in grade 9-10 history reading.

• Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text's explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text" in grade 9-10 science and technical reading.

Fourth, add some personal thought:

I support Common Core and Kentucky implementation of Common Core because I love these expectations. They ask students to read to figure things out, carefully, making sure they understand what the author said and meant, so that they can make good use of what they learn.

Finally, give the audience some independent sources:

You can download the complete Common Core State Standards here. They were developed by organizations of governors and chief state school officers like Kentucky's Commissioner of Education, and they've been adopted by 47 states (46 for the mathematics standards).

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