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Instructional Shifts in English Language Arts/Literacy

Experts have discussed three prominent “instructional shifts” that distinguish the demands of the Common Core State Standards, and therefore the Colorado Academic Standards, from previous sets of standards: 

Regular practice with complex texts and their academic language

Students read grade level appropriate texts around which instruction is centered (teachers are patient, create more time and space and support for support for close reading); students move through a “staircase of complexity” students constantly build the transferable vocabulary they need to access grade level complex text

Reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence from texts, both informational and literary  

Students engage in rich and rigorous evidence-based conversations about a common text;  writing emphasizes use of evidence from sources to inform or make an argument; students develop skills through written arguments that respond

Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction  

Students read a true balance of informational and literary texts (preK-5); students learn through domain / content area-specific texts and are expected to not just “refer to the text” but learn from the text (Grades 6-12); this could also be seen as developing disciplinary literacy.

Instructional Resources to Consider

Kindergarten to 3rd Grade

Grades 4 through 12

Multiple Grades / Classrooms

Reciprocal Teaching: “According to Hattie (2009), reciprocal teaching is among the most powerful instructional practices in terms of achievement outcomes for students with disabilities due to its combination of strategy and direct instruction methods.” (from William & Mary School of Education, Reciprocal Teaching:  Seeing is Believing.) 

Close reading: “Close reading in primary is a time when the unconstrained skills of vocabulary and comprehension are foregrounded, and decoding instruction takes a back seat. … As students move to 3rd grade and beyond, they assume responsibility of performing the initial reading on their own.  Many have worried that this will place struggling readers in harm’s way, but keep in mind that in close reading students are reading and discussing the text many times.  It’s a form of slow reading, where the end game is not about volume, but rather about depth of understanding” (Fisher, Douglas. Nancy Frey. John Hattie. Visible Learning for Literacy. Corwin. 2016).

Building knowledge:          

Rigor, Relevance, Relationships and Habits of Mind

Meeting the “Just-Right Challenge”

Creating Relevancy

Cultural Responsiveness Pedagogy

Building Relationships

Habits of Mind