Implementing CCSS


When I start the year I have a general idea of how my curriculum will develop throughout the year. I have a clear picture of my long range plans and of my end of the year MINIMUM goals for my class... but I don’t know where I am going to start until I meet my class. My plans for teaching literacy always begin with what my students know and what they need to know.

So... my plans for the first days??? Get to know my class.

I collect work samples as I constantly observe them reading, writing, interacting...  What do they know? What can they do? What can they almost do? What are they interested in? What is their level of motivation in reading and writing?

The first time I saw the CCSS document I liked it.  They are concise, they allow teachers to use professional judgement, they develop a high level of literacy expertise because they spiral and build throughout a child’s schooling.

Yes... there are some things that seem ridiculous to me...

how can we promote higher standards while class size is rising? How can a district provide Teacher Training and Exceptional Class Libraries when the budget continues to be slashed?

However... I believe in the philosophy behind the standards. Reading is meaning based. I can support it 100% even as I fear that it is an impossible dream in today’s economy.

As I continue to read and learn about implementing the CCSS I am seeing how many of the right things I already have in place.

I have always believed that it is crucial to teach using high level texts even when some of the students in the class can’t read those texts on their own yet. At every grade that I have taught... at the High School, the Middle Schol and the Elementary school, I always involve my whole class in thinking about, discussing and analysing literature.  I have always taught literary elements using the correct terminology.

In addition to this instruction, I have also taught each student at his/her current reading level so that the students are all working to improve accuracy, fluency, and comprehension AT THEIR LEVEL while still being included in the higher level discussions about texts above their level.

I have purchased my own classroom library in order to provide large numbers of books to students. They are categorized and organized into unit and theme boxes.

Students have always had TIME in class to read and write.

Students have always had TIME in class for reading to themselves, as well as with partners, in addition to ME reading TO them.

Students spend time each day reading books AT THEIR LEVEL... but IN ADDITION TO having choice reading time with books spanning all of the levels.

I have used choral reading and Oral Language activities, such as I Can Read books, to model and practice fluency and expression.

We read and write all day long, across the curriculum, throughout the year.

I have always used trade books rather than texts or anthologies so that students read the real thing, not condensed versions or issues with forced vocabulary. (like phonics readers)

Implementation of the CCSS:  (p. 42 - 47)

1st, you must find out what your students know... only then can you begin to design a path for them to progress. Using running records to determine their starting point...

(not only their level... but also being able to analyze the running records to understand which strategies each student is needing to learn next in order to move forward...

When students get stuck, or pause, or have difficulty, I ask myself, “what was it that they needed to know that would have helped them with the text?” Then I know what to teach them next.

p.50 “....of the four classroom factors that were strongly related to success in reading, the MOST influential factor was ensuring the students had easy access to high-interest texts,

and the second most influential factor was providing students with choice over what they would read.

...high-motivation and high-performing classrooms were, above all, filled with books at different levels of text difficulty.”

Matching students to books is necessary, but not sufficient. Match students up to books that they can read fluently, accurately, and with comprehension at 95% or more... but also develop a plan, with clear goals, of what you will teach that student you will help him continue to progress through the levels.

You have to give those students TIME to read AND discuss those books that are at their level...

You have to work with and guide students through reading, discussing, and alalyzing texts above their level, Whole class discussions of “Goal Level” texts that are a seperate part of the day... (In Kinder one way we do this is as a Read Aloud)  Students should not be reading texts that are too difficult on their own. They need a support system while they think and discuss higher level texts.

Since K-1 students often progress from Level 1 through Level 18 or even more during one year, it is crucial that the teacher continually assess students reading levels. Assessment can’t be done just two or three times a year in a primary classroom.

to be continued......


My recent thoughts about CCSS