Academic journal article Language Arts

Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement

Academic journal article Language Arts

Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement

Article excerpt

Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, and Christopher Lehman, Heinemann, 2012, 224 pp., ISBN 978-0-325- 04355-5

In their book, Calkins, Ehrenworth, and Lehman offer their interpretation of the best way to approach CCSS in literacy. The authors present their understandings of the Standards and offer instructional suggestions. Most of their recommendations for instruction are solidly grounded in current literacy research. However, we question how the authors frame teachers in regard to the CCSS.

In the reading section, the authors describe methods teachers can use to support students in employing complex thinking skills and deep comprehension. They suggest teachers scaffold students into more complex texts and critical analysis than the CCSS requires by providing copious amounts of practice time. In the writing section, the authors unpack the Standards in a nonlinear fashion and, based on their experiences as writing teachers, comment on what they believe will be useful for other teachers. They show teachers how the spiral connection among the writing Standards helps students build high levels of craft so they make steady progress throughout their education. In the speaking and listening section, the authors invite educators to foster student-to-student conversations by purposely planning and facilitating classroom talk. Finally, in the assessment section, the authors discuss the new SMARTER Balanced assessments that "may prove to be innovative and able to assess higher-level thinking, reading, and writing skills" (p. 190).

Despite the helpfulness of these sections, we are concerned about how the authors position teachers in relation to the CCSS. …

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