Thursday, March 18, 2010

Analyze the Structure of Texts

Following up this post, here's Reading/Literature standard 5 in the new draft Common Core standards in order:

  • K. Recognize common types of texts (e.g., storybooks, poems).
  • 1. Distinguish major categories of writing from each other (e.g., stories and poems), drawing on a wide reading of a range of text types.
  • 2. Refer to core elements of stories, plays, and myths, including characters, settings, and plots, when writing or speaking about a specific text.
  • 3. Demonstrate understanding of common features of legends, myths, and folk- and fairytales (e.g., heroes and villains; quests or challenges) when writing or speaking about classic stories from around the world.
  • 4. Explain major differences between poems and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., stanza, verse, rhythm, meter) when writing or speaking about specific poems.
  • 5. Explain major differences between drama and prose stories, and refer to the structural elements of drama (e.g., casts of characters, setting descriptions, dialogue, stage directions, acts, scenes) when writing or speaking about specific works of dramatic literature.
  • 6. Explain the effect of such devices as flashbacks and foreshadowing on the development of plot and meaning of a text.
  • 7. Describe how any given sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the plot or themes.
  • 8. Compare a poem with a conventional structure, such as a sonnet, to a poem without a proscribed structure, such as a free verse poem.
  • 9-10. Analyze how an author structures a text, orders events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulates time (e.g., pacing) to create mystery, tension, or surprise.
  • 11-12. Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text (e.g., electing at what point to begin or end a story) shape the meaning of the text.
  • CCR: Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section or chapter) relate to each other and the whole.

My thoughts:

  • Elementary: I'm not going to comment on the level of rigor, I'll leave that to my colleagues with first hand experience teaching the little ones. I would note that the kinds of "structure" these standards address is known within the discipline of English as "genre," and it is a fundamental analytical tool. We would be better served by a standard which addresses genre in a forthright and straightforward manner.
  • Middle years in general: Are these standards or tasks/assignments? In grades 4, 5, 6 and 8, you could literally teach kids to memorize 80% of a short essay answer to the question on a standardized test. In fact, I'd highly recommend that approach, preferably accompanied by clapping and chanting.
  • 6: What are "such devices as flashbacks and foreshadowing?" Do English teachers and scholars have a name for such devices?
  • 7: "Any given sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza?" Really? So to prepare students for an assessment of this standard I should give them selections at random? Is that what they'll be doing in college?
  • 9-10: Are "mystery, tension and surprise" really that important to college and career readiness? Can I see some research or international (or intranational) benchmarking to explain this pride of place in the high school English curriculum?
  • 11-12/CCR: I would like to see the 11-12 standard go in the direction of close reading and attention to detail rather than the most global analysis. Nonetheless, am I the only one who thinks the 11-12 standard is more demanding than the CCR standard? I approve the inclusion of consideration of the author's choices, but is that extra level demanded by the CCR standard? What is the relationship between the K-12 standards and CCR? Will there be a CCR exam that is not actually based on the K-12 standards (I predict yes)?

No comments: