I’ve heard so much talk about the Common Core – there’s a lot of noise out there, really!  Some people are saying that the CCSS aren’t a big deal and that we’re already doing it.  Some folks are absolutely losing their minds freaking out because they’re seeing the CCSS as all new.

Well, I’m here to tell you that neither of those are true or accurate!

Don’t believe the hype!

Well actually, believe the good hype, but don’t believe the bad hype.  (By the way, I realize that this makes NO sense and I’ve probably confused you even more…ugh!)


Well, what I’m really saying is this: you’ve got this.  We’ve got this.

The best way to get a handle on the TEACHING of the Common Core (and that’s what it really boils down to: the teaching) is to break it down into a series of simple instructional habits that the teacher teaches the kids until it becomes mastered.  And then they both (teacher and kids) practice it again and again and again until it becomes automatic.  And voila!  You’ve built a habit!  And an important habit at that!

RI Standards snip for blog

So, let’s start with the RL and RI standards 1, 2 and 3.  They fall under the header (or ‘thingy’ as I’ve been prone to say) “Key Ideas and Details.”  If I’m trying to figure out how on earth I teach RL 1, 2, 3 and RI 1, 2, 3 standards, it’s really pretty simple to start with.

It’s all about the retell.  Let’s take the first step…

Now I know that there are tons of nuance-y type things we need to be aware of as we implement the Standards in each of the grade levels, but the basic gist of the first three Standards in every grade level for RL and RI is this: kids need to be able to tell six things after they’ve read a passage or piece of text:
1.    Who
2.    What
3.    Where
4.    When
5.    Why
6.    How

So there.  See?  I didn’t invent anything new.  You know this!

But what I want you to realize, now that we’ve covered this, is that not only will you have kids read text with retell in mind, you will TEACH the first read of any selection with the PURPOSE of teaching Standards 1, 2 and 3 THROUGH RETELLING the who, what, when, where, why, and how.

In fact, that’s the first pass through any text as we closely read: read for understanding the basics around the text (i.e. the who, what, when, where, why, how).

retell snip

Now you might be reading this and thinking, “Yes!  I already do that!  Check off that one from the list of ‘to dos’!”  While that might be true, the point of it all is this: Close reading is an instructional and learning habit that involves purposeful reading of the same text multiple times.  The first read through of any text should be focused on the retell of the basics of the text, as everything fancy and extended and rigorous and high-thinking will come from that base.

Now you’ll need to go back to your grade level’s Standards and work out the nitty gritty stuff, but you can start here.  Right now.  Like this year.  No need to wait for next year.  Just get started.  The sooner you build the HABIT of Close Reading into your teaching and their learning, the better prepped you are to teach the Common Core Standards.

So get started…and report back how it’s going.  In fact, leave a comment in the comments section below!