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An Overview of English Language Arts Standards and 10 Ways To Support CCSS Learning At Home


by Jackie Knapp & Jennifer Grannis

The Building Blocks & Basics of The Common Core State Standards
(CT Core Standards) –English Language Arts

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) – for English Language Arts (ELA) – also referred to as The Connecticut Core Standards (CSS) here in Connecticut, have been adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia. The Standards are not a curriculum. Instead, they establish a shared set of expectations to raise achievement for all students and prepare them for college and careers. We’re going to take a closer look at our ELA Standards in our section of The Tiger Times for the remainder of the year. This edition of The Reading Connection will provide you with an overview of the ELA standards along with ideas to help you support your children at home.

Students will be expected to display increasing proficiency in their English language arts skills as they progress from grade to grade. The ELA Standards are divided into four main areas:
• Reading (informational and literary texts, as well as foundational skills K-3)
• Writing (narrative, informative/explanatory, and argument/opinion)
• Speaking and Listening
• Language

Text complexity and the power of reading aloud
The Common Core calls for students to read texts of increasing complexity as they progress from grade to grade. Some of the texts may feel daunting at first. One way to help your child handle challenging books is to read aloud, since listening skills develop more quickly than reading comprehension skills. Reading aloud can also help reluctant readers enjoy books and gain confidence. Remember that although complexity is important, your child should still have time to read for fun.

Focus on informational texts
The ELA Standards emphasize the reading of informational texts in a variety of subject areas. This includes magazine articles, diaries, speeches, essays, scientific articles and legal documents. The shift doesn’t make literature less important, but it does mean that students will read a variety of texts arranged according to topics so as to accelerate knowledge and vocabulary acquisition.

Talk about books
Speaking and writing about texts of all kinds—books, articles and documents—is a focal point of the Common Core. You can help your child by asking questions about the books he is reading in school. Tell him about interesting books and articles that you may be reading. And try to incorporate literacy into everyday activities by calling attention to traffic signs, following recipes together and asking questions about what you see at the supermarket or the store.
Three types of writing
The Standards call for students to develop skills in three main types of writing: narrative, informational/explanatory, and argument. The more kids read and write, the stronger their writing will become. It is important to present writing to your child as something creative and fun. Write stories, plays or songs together. You can even create how-to guides for something you both enjoy doing.


10 Ways to Support CCSS Learning at Home

  1. Cultivate a love of reading – The Standards call for students to read increasingly complex texts. Reading for pleasure is the best way to help your child see the value of exploring new worlds and new words, and to progress to more challenging books.
  2. Ask and answer questions about the books you read together. Take turns asking and answering such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how. Help your child find evidence in the text that supports the answers.
  3. Choice is a powerful motivator. Let your child choose a book that inspires him or her. Suggest topics or books that you think will be of special interest.
  4. Nonfiction books, in particular, feed young, curious minds. They also help kids develop knowledge and vocabulary.
  5. Make connections between words, ideas and events. Look for the rich connections in nonfiction and literary texts—big ideas and details, causes and effects, and steps in a process. For example, ask your child to explain the different stages an animal goes through as it grows up.
  6. Help your child learn the “smart words” to know. Use clues on the page or look in a book’s glossary to reinforce key vocabulary.
  7. Pictures can say as much as words. Spend extra time looking at photos, illustrations, diagrams and maps. Often, the picture helps explain the words, or it gives extra information that enriches the text.
  8. Read about it. Write about it. Ask your child to describe in words what he or she sees in a picture.
  9. Talk about books with your child—and make the conversations count.
  10. Nonfiction doesn’t just live between the covers of a book. Take your child to a zoo, gaze at the stars at night, or study a bug. Have fun!

-Adapted from several websites: http://www.pta.org/parents, http://commoncore.scholastic.co, http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/


Tiger Times December 2015