ADDRESSING THE COMMON CORE:
Common Core is not scary. It has nothing to do with what literature is taught; it is about HOW it is taught.
1. Students are not lead through the materials as much as in years past. In other words, rather than "front loading" students with introductory material, they are often asked to have a "productive struggle" through "complex text." Although lectures are sometimes appropriate in a college-level class, students do a lot more discovery on their own with Common Core.
2. Because Common Core is about a lot of non-fiction material, teachers in all subject areas now use supplementary texts, sometimes called companion texts. In English courses, we do not drop the core literature; we add to it. So, for example, with fiction or drama units, non-fiction articles, documentaries, historical documents and even cartoons are integrated into the units using a variety of lessons, sometimes replacing lectures or other activities.
3. Part of the Common Core is learning HOW to struggle through complex texts, so students will be learning how to annotate texts and will be required to do so for credit.
4. Academic language is also important to Common Core, so teachers are using and developing academic language through both the texts chosen and discussions.
5. Common Core asks students to analyze foundational US documents of historical and literary significance for theme, purpose and rhetorical features. Students in multiples grades do so in both English and Social Studies classes.
6. In order to prepare for the Smarter Balanced tests that all students will take in the eleventh grade, students will take the Smarter Balanced practice tests online and the district-made benchmarks that were designed to prepare students for the tests.