Common Core (CCSS)
The new basis for Missouri education is the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The intention of Common Core is to create grade-by-grade standards which are rigorous, clear and specific. These standards have been adopted by a majority of states in the United States to facilitate overall, measurable excellence in education.
There are ten guiding principles which guide instruction as well as learning for the student:
1. Make close reading of texts central to the lesson.
2. Structure the majority of the instruction so all students read grade-level complex texts.
3. Emphasize informational texts that are aligned to NAPE.
4. Provide scaffolding that does not preempt or replace text.
5. Ask text-dependent questions.
6. Provide extensive research and writing opportunities for claims and evidence.
7. Offer regular opportunities for students to share ideas, evidence and research.
8. Offer systematic instruction in vocabulary using everyday, academic and domain specific tiered vocabulary.
9. Provide explicit instruction in grammar and conventions.
10. Cultivate student independence in learning.
Source: Marcia Barnhart, Ohio Department of Education
The overall purpose of balanced literacy instruction is to provide students with a differentiated instructional program which will support the reading and writing skill development of each individual.
Balanced literacy is implemented through the Reading and Writing Workshop Model. The teacher begins by modeling the reading/writing strategy that is the focus of the workshop. Subsequently, students are engaged in practicing the focal strategy in small groups or independently as the teacher monitors and provides guidance. Selected students share their work. Then, students read leveled texts independently or write independently for an extended period of time as the teacher circulates amongst them to observe, record observations and confer. At the culmination of the workshop session, selected students share their strategies and work with the class.
It is recommended that Guided Reading be implemented during the extended independent reading period. Based upon assessment, the teacher works with small groups of students (no more than 6 students in each group) on a leveled text (authentic trade book). The teacher models specific strategies before reading and monitors students while they read independently. After reading, the teacher and students engage in activities in word study, fluency, and comprehension. The purpose of Guided Reading is to systematically scaffold the decoding and/or comprehension strategy skills of students who are having similar challenges.
Direct Instruction in Phonics and Word Study are also included in the Balanced Literacy Approach. For advanced readers, the teacher focuses on the etymology of a word. Students who are reading at this stage are engaged in analyzing the patterns of word derivations, root words, prefixes and suffixes.