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I have been forcing myself to read the Common Core Standards (CCS) that will soon be Maine’s Educational Standards.   I believe that I need to read the source documents of what I will be responsible for teaching in my Resource Room English class and be ready to discuss, what will be required by the CCS, when we continue our discussions on the Junior High English Curriculum later in the summer.

There certainly does seem to be a lot more pages in the CCS compared to the old Maine Learning Results – it must be a federal government thing, it needs to be a “large” document to be important.  I wonder if the extra pages will result in more learning?  Sorry couldn’t resist being a little snarky there.  This unofficially mandated change (if a State wants to participate in RTTP grand funding opportunities – this is one of the requirements – no matter how much Mr. Duncan says otherwise that the Feds are not mandating adoption of the CCS).

This change is tough for me (especially after all the changes that Maine has undergone major changes in its Standards over in the last 10 years (LAS, MLR, updated MLR and this is just another change), just like most everyone else and I haven’t decided whether National Standards are a good thing or not.  I have written about my thoughts on Standards in THINKING ABOUT FREEDOM AND TEXAS and Alternate National Education Standards.  There I have put my personal bias on the table for everyone to see.

Not that my opinion really matters all that much, because when, not if my school implements the CCS and gives me the marching order to implement them in my classroom, I will to the best of my ability – it is how I operate.  I may not always agree with the direction we are heading, but once the decision has been made I will publicly support it and work to make it a positive thing in my classroom.  Sometimes you simply have to do what you are told if you want to keep doing what you love.

Our State DOE sent out an email which recommended the reading order for the CCS, which begins with Appendix A: Research Supporting Key Elements of the Standards / Glossary of Key Terms.

From what I have read so far in Appendix A there has been more than a little thought on the rationale behind the ones that were chosen and what they want students to know when they have completed grade 12.  But there sure is a lot of “paper” to read.

The biggest thing that I really need to learn cold is the vocabulary (which I thought I would have a pretty good handle on), but some of the definition of some key terms is different than I would have interpreted them, without the glossary.  Therefore I have copied the glossary to this blog for you to see what I mean and my quick reference.
I have added some more comments below the Glossary of Key Terms, so if you want to continue reading just scroll through the glossary.

Copied from Appendix A: Research Supporting Key Elements of the Standards / Glossary of Key Terms

Glossary of Key Terms
Every effort has been made to ensure that the phrasing of the Standards is as clear and free of jargon as possible. When used, specialized and discipline-specific terms (e.g., simile, stanza,declarative sentence) typically conform to their standard definition, and readers are advised to consult high-quality dictionaries or standard resources in the field for clarification. The terms defined below are limited to those words and phrases particularly important to the Standards and that have a meaning unique to this document. CCSS refers to the main Common Core State Standards document; the names of various sections (e.g., “Reading”) refer to parts of this appendix.
Definitions of many important terms associated with reading foundational skills appear in Reading Foundational Skills, pages 19–25. Descriptions of the Standards’ three writing types (argument, informative/explanatory writing, and narrative) can be found in Writing, pages 26–27.
Domain-specific words and phrases – Vocabulary specific to a particular field of study (domain), such as the human body (CCSS, p. 32); in the Standards, domain-specific words and phrases are analogous to Tier Three words (Lan guage, p. 36).
Editing – A part of writing and preparing presentations concerned chiefly with improving the clarity, organization, concision, and correctness of expression relative to task, purpose, and audience; compared to revising, a smaller-scale activity often associated with surface aspects of a text; see also revising, rewriting
Emergent reader texts – Texts consisting of short sentences comprised of learned sight words and CVC words; may also include rebuses to represent words that cannot yet be decoded or recognized; see also rebus
Evidence – Facts, figures, details, quotations, or other sources of data and information that provide support for claims or an analysis and that can be evaluated by others; should appear in a form and be derived from a source widely accepted as appropriate to a particular discipline, as in details or quotations from a text in the study of literature and experimental results in the study of science
Focused question – A query narrowly tailored to task, purpose, and audience, as in a research query that is sufficiently precise to allow a student to achieve adequate specificity and depth within the time and format constraints
Formal English – See standard English General academic words and phrases – Vocabulary common to written texts but not commonly a part of speech; in the Standards, general academic words and phrases are analogous to Tier Two words and phrases (Language, p 36)
Independent(ly) – A student performance done without scaffolding from a teacher, other adult, or peer; in the Standards, often paired with proficient(ly) to suggest a successful student performance done without scaffolding; in the Reading standards, the act of reading a text without scaffolding, as in an assessment; see also proficient(ly), scaffolding
More sustained research project – An investigation intended to address a relatively expansive query using several sources over an extended period of time, as in a few weeks of instructional time
Point of view – Chiefly in literary texts, the narrative point of view (as in first- or third-person narration); more broadly, the position or perspective conveyed or represented by an author, narrator, speaker, or character
Print or digital (texts, sources) – Sometimes added for emphasis to stress that a given standard is particularly likely to be applied to electronic as well as traditional texts; the standards are generally assumed to apply to both
Proficient(ly) – A student performance that meets the criterion established in the Standards as measured by a teacher or assessment; in the Standards, often paired with independent(ly) to suggest a successful student performance done without scaffolding; in the Reading standards, the act of reading a text with comprehension; see also independent(ly), scaffolding
Rebus – A mode of expressing words and phrases by using pictures of objects whose names resemble those words
Revising – A part of writing and preparing presentations concerned chiefly with a reconsideration and reworking of the content of a text relative to task, purpose, and audience; compared to editing, a larger-scale activity often associated with the overall content and structure of a text; see also editing, rewriting
Rewriting – A part of writing and preparing presentations that involves largely or wholly replacing a previous, unsatisfactory effort with a new effort, better aligned to task, purpose, and audience, on the same or a similar topic or theme; compared to revising, a larger-scale activity more akin to replacement than refinement; see also editing, revising
Scaffolding – Temporary guidance or assistance provided to a student by a teacher, another adult, or a more capable peer, enabling the student to perform a task he or she otherwise would not be able to do alone, with the goal of fostering the student’s capacity to perform the task on his or her own later on*
Short research project – An investigation intended to address a narrowly tailored query in a brief period of time, as in a few class periods or a week of instructional time
Source – A text used largely for informational purposes, as in research; see also text
Standard English – In the Standards, the most widely accepted and understood form of expression in English in the United States; used in the Standards to refer to formal English writing and speaking; the particular focus of Language standards 1 and 2 (CCSS, pp. 25, 27, 52, 54)
Technical subjects – A course devoted to a practical study, such as engineering, technology, design, business, or other workforce-related subject; a technical aspect of a wider field of study, such as art or music
Text complexity – The inherent difficulty of reading and comprehending a text combined with consideration of reader and task variables; in the Standards, a three-part assessment of text difficulty that pairs qualitative and quantitative measures with reader-task considerations (CCSS, pp. ; Reading, pp. xx)
Text complexity band – A range of text difficulty corresponding to grade spans within the Standards; specifically, the spans from grades 2–3, grades 4–5, grades 6–8, grades 9–10, and grades 11–CCR (college and career readiness)
Textual evidence – See evidence With prompting and support/with (some) guidance and support – See scaffolding
* Though Vygotsky himself does not use the term scaffolding, the educational meaning of the term relates closely to his con- cept of the zone of proximal development. See L. S. Vygotsky (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychologi- cal processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

I think that it was very important to include these definitions of how the CCS uses them.  My initial read and mark up of Appendix A hasn’t shown me any real troubling or reasons to embrace CCS.  A lot of what is in there is basic methods/pedagogy.

The biggest complaints that I have so far is the amount of reading that is required to get to know these standards and that how many of my student’s parents will/can read and understand these new standards.  They are not non-educator friendly and certainly are full of edu-speak.

I wonder where on the Lexile Rating Scale that these documents were written?  A lot higher than the “average” American reads – me thinks.

Believe me this is not something that I want to spend some of my personal time on this summer, but I am doing it, and I believe that it is something every teacher should be doing who’s state will be adopting these standards, because of the effect it will have on our classrooms.

How does this relate to Special Education?  The Common Core Standards will apply to all Special Education Students as discussed in this document Application to Students with Disabilities.  We will have to wait to see how it affects Special Education.

“No-Try not! Do or do not. There is no try.”