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Common Core: The Non-Fiction Conundrum
posted by: Melissa | December 12, 2012, 08:49 PM   

Awareness of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) seems to finally be penetrating the public at large. Unfortunately, the new standards are also being met with a large amount of misinformation. Recent controversial articles have asserted that the new language arts reading standards will be detrimental to traditional English classes nationwide.

If you are not aware of the new standard, the CCSS dictate that by a student's senior year in high school, 70% of all reading should be non-fiction. This standard was specifically driven by the NAEP exam and other international tests and was inserted specifically to address the challenges encountered. Going on to read the standards document, it's clear that the burden of teaching non-fiction is not meant to rest solely on the shoulders of language arts teachers:

Fulfilling the Standards for 6–12 ELA requires much greater attention to a specific category of informational text—literary nonfiction—than has been traditional. Because the ELA classroom must focus on literature (stories, drama, and poetry) as well as literary nonfiction, a great deal of informational reading in grades 6–12 must take place in other classes if the NAEP assessment framework is to be matched instructionally.

Many news stories fail to address the standards in depth and have reported that the 70% standard set by the CCSS pertains only to literature classes. This is simply not the case and all subject areas will be responsible for meeting the new standard.

For those that are aware that the standard applies across the curriculum, the fear is that content area teachers will not do their part. For those teachers in content areas, specifically in STEM areas, educators will be tasked with how to integrate reading materials into a subject that is already crowded and doesn't seem to lend itself naturally to literary endeavors.

Left with the fact that language arts teachers shouldn't sacrifice teaching literature and that content-area teachers are not the best at teaching language arts, it seems that to properly implement Common Core, collaboration across subject areas is going to become necessary.

The concept of teachers collaborating is not something new. In fact, educators have known for years that interdisciplinary teaching aids both motivation and understanding. Despite the data, up until this point, many primary and secondary teachers still keep strict divisions in the school day for the different subjects.

While teachers have varying opinions on Common Core, it is possible to look at these standards as an opportunity to help transform ourselves into better educators through collaboration.

Comments (1)Add Comment
English & Non-Fiction
written by Robert Byron, San Diego, December 13, 2012

I see an emerging trend in the San Diego area districts t blend non-fiction writings related to Government, US History, and other geopolitical being drawn into Emglish literature classes. I think it reinforces retention of important subject matter from other courses while highlighting the clarity and relevance of histo-political writings.

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