Common Core ELA Standards: Guide for Teachers

What are the Common Core ELA Standards?

Common Core ELA standards are guidelines used to identify clear goals for students to achieve through the study of English language arts and other subjects. The ultimate objective is for all students to be fully equipped to use language-related skills effectively after graduating from high school. Mastery of the Common Core ELA skills will result in the ability to read written texts, comprehend the subject matter discussed, and identify solutions to specific issues from information presented in the text.

The Common Core ELA standards extend through all grade levels. Common Core ELA standards for students in kindergarten through grade 5 are intended to develop language-related skills in these areas:

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Speaking
  • Writing

For example, teachers will seek to ensure that kindergarten students are able to summarize stories in their own words. These students should be able to answer questions about a story they've read or had read to them. By grade 3 students should be able to identify the main purpose of a text and answer more specific questions with greater detail.

Once students enter grade 6, the Common Core ELA standards expand to inform the instruction of other subjects, such as social studies and science. Language-related skills are essential to a student's success in these subject areas. Successful implementation of Common Core ELA standards will enable students to effectively listen to information about other subject areas and discuss that data.

They will be able to apply their reading and writing skills by processing text visually or orally and assessing the information in the text. They will also be able to effectively discuss information about social studies, science, and other technical subjects. Common Core literacy standards for science and other subjects provide clear objectives for students to achieve in grades 6 through 12 and are a part of the Common Core English language arts standards.

Key Shifts in the Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy

The implementation of Common Core has changed the way that English language arts and other subjects are taught. These changes, or shifts, impact the curriculum and related objectives. Common Core reading standards and Common Core writing standards call for students to be progressively challenged with more complex texts. Students will process different types of texts and expand their vocabulary by reading material, discussing the content, and writing about it.

Another instructional shift stemming from the Common Core standards involves the increased focus on ensuring students can use texts to solve problems and answer questions. Simply reading the text is insufficient. Common Core literacy standards require students to be able to understand the information presented and use it to respond appropriately to text-related prompts, such a questions about the content. The emphasis on using evidence from a text when writing about that text is intended to ensure that students can factually support their statements and conclusions. These skills help to ensure students can develop positions and support their assertions with relevant text-based data.

Common Core ELA standards have also produced a shift in the type of texts students read and assess. English language arts instruction has traditionally been associated with fictional texts, such as the works of Shakespeare. Common Core reading standards call for students to spend more time focusing on non-fiction texts.

While students in kindergarten through grade 5 will work with an equal mix of fiction and non-fiction writings in their English language arts studies, students in grades 6 through 12 will find that there is an increased emphasis on non-fiction texts. The Common Core ELA standards for those grades also call for achieving subject-based goals related to social studies, science, and other subjects.

Implementing Common Core ELA Standards

In order to effectively implement Common Core English standards in curriculum it is important to understand the Common Core curriculum objectives for each grade level and subject area. Teachers can utilize lesson plan templates for Common Core ELA instruction and subject-based Common Core templates, such as this lesson plan template for teaching Common Core social studies standards. These templates are designed to help teachers easily integrate the Common Core curriculum standards in their lessons.

Teachers can use specific instructional strategies, such as literature circles , which will encourage students to analyze texts and develop speaking skills through text-based discussion groups.

Instruction that emphasizes Common Core reading standards will involve using both fiction and non-fiction texts. Teachers working with elementary students on foundational skills, such as 2nd grade reading , can incorporate games into their curriculum plan to help prompt students to identify information from a text and answer questions.

Common Core standards also call for developing reading, writing, and vocabulary skills. Teachers can utilize Common Core writing activities as well as grade-specific techniques, such as the ones recommended here for Common Core writing in grade 4 . These instructional strategies encourage students to develop and express opinions. The activities are designed to move students from simply processing factual data presented in writing to extrapolating that information to form text-based conclusions. Teachers can also incorporate activities designed to emphasize narrative writing skills.

As part of a Common Core curriculum program teachers should incorporate activities that are designed to help students expand their vocabulary. Use these vocabulary activities for middle school or vocabulary activities for high school in your classroom to ensure students are introduced to age-appropriate vocabulary. Understanding what the words mean and how to use them is crucial for students to achieve the ultimate objective of Common Core standards - to understand, discuss, and write about age-appropriate texts.

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Common Core ELA lessons, strategies, and examples
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