At a recent gathering of the Wild Women in Education (an informal group that I host from time to time), when my friend Rahshene pulled PATHWAYS TO THE COMMON CORE out of her purse, admitting that yes, she carries it around with her, we all chuckled. Then Katy chimed in something to the effect of, “Why not? It’s an awesome book!” and I realized that I couldn’t wait any longer to read it. I’d been putting it off for weeks (despite the recommendations of several other friends) since I’d already spent time on my own analysis of the standards and had more recently been busy helping a dozen teachers write curriculum units using the standards.
In short, before I read this book, I felt I knew enough to be dangerous—I mean, helpful. Then I read the book.
On the one hand, I can’t say I learned anything wildly new. But this book does provide a thoughtful analysis and interpretation of the Common Core English Language Arts standards, including useful context regarding their creation and the likely intentions of the standards’ authors. It also offers some practical instructional suggestions and reinforces my concerns about the standards’ archaic text recommendations (e.g., Reading the grade 4-5 list, I, too, had wondered, Does everyone really have to read Black Beauty? Really?).
Most importantly, this book confirms my belief that we absolutely MUST provide teachers across the disciplines with A LOT more support and training in how to teach reading and writing. Here is my favorite quote: “You will probably find yourself saying that the Common Core reading standards can deepen students’ reading of nonfiction. But our hunch is that the more profound implication will be that the Common Core reading standards can deepen the reading skills of adults as well.” In short, we have work to do, people.