Unpacking the Common Core Standards, Part 2: Thinking Horizontally

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.  

Last week, I talked about the importance of looking at the standards horizontally as well as vertically, and over the next few weeks, I’m going to do just that as I walk you through what effective close reading questioning can look like, unpacking one strand at a time using texts of varying complexities.  Next up:

Reading Standards for Literature K-3, Craft and Structure, Strand 6

Unpacking the Common Core Standards

In Kindergarten, the strand reads:  With prompting and support, name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story.

Example text:  Elizabeti’s Doll by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen and illustrated by Christy Hale

genre: realistic fiction

Strand-specific questions:

  • Who was the author of this story?  What part of the book did the author create?  
  • Who was the illustrator? How did she help us picture what was happening?  How did she help the author tell her story?  
  • What were some important parts of the story that the author told us with her words?  What were some important parts of the story that the illustrator showed us with her pictures?

DeShawn Days cover image

In First Grade, the strand reads:  Identify who is telling the story at various points in a text.

Example text:  DeShawn Days by Tony Medina and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

genre: narrative poetry

Strand-specific questions:

  • In each poem, identify the speaker. Who is the narrator? What’s the difference between a narrator and a character?
  • Who are the characters in these poems? How do you know?

Nine-In-One Grr! Grr!

In Second Grade, the strand reads:  Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.

Example text:  Nine-in-One, Grr! Grr! by Blia Xiong and Cathy Spagnoli and illustrated by Nancy Hom

genre: folktale

Strand-specific questions:

  • What does Tiger want?  What does Bird want?  What does Tiger do to try to get her way?  What does Bird do to try to get her way?
  • Read the story with your students in a variety of ways (ex: popcorn, readers’ theatre, etc).  Decide how each character should sound and why they should sound that way.  Look for clues in the text.  Give students a chance to read some of or all of the parts aloud.

First Come the Zebra cover

In Third Grade, the strand reads:  Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.

Example text:  First Come the Zebra by Lynne Barasch

genre:  realistic fiction

Strand-specific questions:

  • Who is the narrator?  Who are the characters?  What do the Maasai value?  What is Abaani’s perspective in the story?  What do the Kikuyu value? What is Haki’s perspective in the story?  How do you know?
  • How do you see the Maasai and the Kikuyu?  Abaani and Haki? What’s your perspective on their conflict?  How is your perspective different than Abaani and Haki’s?

Further Reading:

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