Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Common Core Will make High School English More Like This

American Educator:

Students were taught to fill their para- graphs with what the school calls “hundred-dollar words” and underline them for emphasis. These included transitions, such as “because” or “so I think,” and vocabulary from the state content stan- dards, or MSA words, as they’re called at Tyler Heights: “character trait,” “graphic aids,” “dialogue.” The children were instructed to review these words on flash- cards in their spare time—vastly more attention than was given to the real-world vocabulary from their Open Court stories. They would boast about how many hundred-dollar words they managed to include in each BCR. “$900!!!” a proud child would write at the bottom of his page.

Because the benchmark was going to ask the children to compare two poems, the third-graders of Tyler Heights were guided through practice BCRs comparing sets of poems. Because the benchmark was going to ask how they knew a passage was a poem, they wrote practice BCRs about how they knew passages were poems. (“I know ‘Smart’ is a poem because it has stanzas and rhyme. I know the text has stanzas and not paragraphs because they didn’t indent....”) Because the benchmark would ask students to choose which of several meanings of a given word best matched the example sentence, the third-graders were walked through those types of prob- lems, and because the benchmark would ask which of several words had the same sound as that underlined in the example word, they were walked through those questions too.

They have to change the structure of high school English to make in more amenable to "data-driven instruction." If you don't believe me, read the article, then look at the difference between the high school standards you use now and the Common Core.

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