Consider these important features of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts, in both the anchors and their grade-level versions, when crafting assignments. They are key to aligning your work to the CCSS at any grade:
- Assignments should involve students in complex ideas embedded in texts.
- Students should develop skills in analyzing ideas and texts. Analyze is the dominant verb used in the CCSS grade-level standards after 5th grade. True, a verb is not a standard; yet verbs are starting points for creating the contexts for the cognitive and practical demands that make up an assignment. This essential thinking skill, whether it is in another form, such as “comparing” or “determining,” involves the ability to break down and examine an idea or process.
- Assignments should include text-dependent questions or prompts to develop skills in extracting evidence from texts. (RL & RI 1, 2, 3)
- The bulk of writing assignments should be multiparagraph compositions, such as reports and essays, rather than personal essays, memoirs, or narratives. (W1,2,7, 9)
- Speaking and listening are important components of literacy, and students should engage in a variety of speaking and listening venues, for example seminars, debates, exhibitions, and monologues. (SL4, 6)
- Language involves more than just learning grammar and spelling rules. Assignments should help students become adept with language for different audiences and purposes, in speaking and writing. One of the most important skills students can learn is how to adjust language to fit their audience and purpose in speaking and writing. (L3)
- Assignments should be constructed to nudge students toward becoming independent learners. Helping students track their ability to manage assignments with increasing degrees of independence should be part of your instructional plan. (Anchors R10, W10, SL6)
Excerpted from Assigments Matter: Making the Connections That Help Students Meet Standards. Read a sample chapter, and learn more about this book, here.