Common Core State Standards Focus on Text Complexity
Reading Between the Lines
- The stance framework developed by Judith Langer: four stances (Global, Interpretive, Critical, and Personal) that prompt students to analyze the gist of a text, implied meaning, source, and connections.
- A perspective chart: a graphic organizer that helps students identify multiple viewpoints in a historical text and ask questions such as, Whose story is this? Is this the full story? What's missing?
- A character analysis frame: a graphic organizer that helps students record what literary characters say or do in a text so that students can identify patterns in behavior and relate them to broader themes within the text.
Don't Take It Personally?
- Instructional time: Complex texts take time, and the more time you spend outside the text, the less time you spend inside the text. Many materials and discussions spend as much time on student feelings about the text, or how the text relates to their experience, as they do with what's going on inside the text.
- Equity: When you go outside the text to students' experiences, you privilege those students who happen to have those experiences or have practiced having these types of personal meaning making discussions in their home setting. That's usually students from more affluent households. If you focus on just what's in the text everyone has read and studied, you have more of a level playing field.
- Rigor: It's easier to go outside the text, and it's a shortcut to student engagement. But it sends the message that the texts are not engaging on their own and that working hard to wrestle with texts is not a worthwhile endeavor.
Why U.S. Students Stumble on Complex Texts
Source: Liben, David. (2010). "Why text complexity matters" in Common core state standards for English language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. Appendix A: Research supporting key elements of the standards. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers: Washington, D.C.