For the past two weeks I have been really diving into the Common Core Standards. As I have mentioned before my school adopted the Common Core starting this year. I have to say I am greatful for this because it really gives my colleagues and I a chance to really get organized and put them into place for the future. Those of you that are teaching the Common Core know that they are challenging. I don’t know about you, but I love a challenge.
I have really been focused lately on the reading standards. More specifically the texts suggested that “illustrate the complexity, quality, and Range of Student Reading” for grades 6-8. Below are just a few examples of suggested literature (stories, dramas, poetry) reading the Common Core gives in case you haven’t seen them.
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
- “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
- The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
- Dragonwings by Laurence Yep
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
Now, all of these deserve some recoginition, but I have some general concerns and questions about the suggested literature list posted by the Common Core. Even though there seems to be a focus on classics here and the the suggested literature for high school, my biggest concern is that not of these texts reflect any work done by current or more recent authors. The most recent work was done by Mildred Taylor and that was published in 1976. Currently my 7th graders are reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and I am getting positive feedback from them for the most part. The othe titles on here I feel are not that attractive to middle level readers. As most poeple know, I am a huge advocate for boy’s literacy and I assure you Little Women will not go over to well with middle school boys. I remember grabbing this book off the shelf in my middle school library as a 7th grader. I read the first 60 pages and took it back. It was not for me. Now, I know as teachers we are NOT required to teach these literature pieces, but I feel like I am put into a tough spot as a teacher not to choose them. Being part of a small district, I know it will be tough as a language arts committee to approach our district improvement team and ask for sets of these novels. That is an expendature that is not on the docket yet. So I have 4 questions:
- What literature can I choose if these titles that are suggested are unattractive?
- How do I look at what literature I am teaching now in class and decide is it perplexing and challenging enough to meet the standards?
- Do I have to completely redo my curriculum and units I am doing in class now to implement those types of texts that are more challenging?
- How does a district divide up the literature and suggested informational texts between grades 6-8?
I am not saying these are difficult questions to answer, but what I am saying is perhaps there could have been a list of books that could more closely connect with students today. Less classics, more modern selections. Who picked these suggested texts anyway? I know there has to be complex, modern texts available that can do the same things that the suggested texts can do. On another note, I feel as if we are on a spinning wheel of curriculum where we have to implement, yet again, a new curriculum and try to figure out how it fits into our classrooms.
I will continue to do research and figure out what are some options that are available and I am ready for any feedback anybody hasn for me and others.