Yesterday I read the link below about the 70% shift toward nonfiction for students in high school. Many literature teachers, incorrectly, are interpreting this to mean students will spend 70% of their LANGUAGE ARTS classes reading on nonfiction. The standards do not state this. Rather, the standards state that 70% of a high school students assigned reading should be nonfiction.This, contrary to popular belief, is an attainable goal. When looking at my own reading I spend most of my time reading nonfiction: newspapers, blogs, text messages, teaching magazines, online news sites, teacher’s guides, memos, calendars, invitations, letters, maps, coupons, biographies, memoirs, — the list can go on for quite a while. My nonfiction reading is focused on gaining information about the things important to me. Even a lot of my viewing time is nonfiction: Youtube how-to videos, newscasts, videos of my friends’ kids, etc. This shift toward nonfiction is not the scary shift some dinosaurs afraid of change are making it out to be. Rather, this “shift” is acknowledging that adults in the working world read nonfiction at their job and in their home life and our task as teachers is to prepare students to be successful as adults.
The other shift I recognize in the Common Core State Standards has been coming for some time. This shift refers to the idea of “literacy” and who teaches it. The CCSS have come out and said that a teacher who assigns reading therefore teachesreading. This no longer falls solely on the English teachers. It is ludicrous to assume an English teacher who’s specialty is literature is the most equipped teacher in the school to teach a student to read and correctly comprehend an advanced physics textbook. These shifts aren’t tough shifts to make — it’s still a chicken, we’re just calling it a hen now.
Here is a rebuttal to the piece linked above that I think is quite eloquent. I wanted to write it myself, but someone beat me to it. Anyway, we shouldn’t be freaking out about the Common Core — we, as quality, reflective teachers, should be embracing the idea that it rewards great teaching practice with research to prove why it’s great–something no set of standards ever needs to tell a teacher.
The views on this blog are mine alone and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.
Kari teaches English I to 9th graders (!) and other electives in rural Iowa. Her husband is also an English teacher, and their friends have sworn to never help them move again because "even libraries don't have that many books."