Where the Authors of the Standards Go Wrong About Instruction-and How You Can Get It Right
- Michael W. Smith - Temple University, USA
- Deborah Appleman - Carleton College, Minnesota
- Jeffrey D. Wilhelm - Boise State University, Idaho
Foreword by Grant Wiggins
Let’s face it, weak rivets notwithstanding, the Titanic wouldn’t have sunk if the iceberg had been spotted in time. And let’s face it, the CCSS won’t be classroom-worthy unless practitioners chart our course. Depend on Michael Smith, Deborah Appleman, and Jeff Wilhelm to help you navigate through some potentially treacherous waters.
Uncommon Core puts us on high-alert about some outright dangerous misunderstandings looming around so-called “standards-aligned” instruction, then shows us how to steer past them—all in service of meeting the real intent of the Common Core. Smith, Appleman, and Wilhelm counter with teaching suggestions that are true to the research and true to our students, including how:
- Reader-based approaches can complement text-based ones
- Prereading activities can help students meet the strategic and conceptual demands texts place on them
- Strategy instruction can result in a careful and critical analysis of individual texts while providing transferable understandings
- Inquiry units around essential questions can generate meaningful conversation and higher-order thinking about those texts
- Selection criteria that consider interpretive complexity can take us so much farther than those that consider textual complexity alone
Given the number of strategies, lesson ideas, and activities in the book, Uncommon Core is really less about the standards and more about timeless, excellent teaching and how to use it like never before to meet the Core ideals. Let’s put instruction where it belongs: back in the hands of the experts.
“Finally! A book with more light than heat on the issue of standards and their implications for learning.”
Coauthor of Understanding by Design
A Letter from Birmingham Jail Inquiry Unit
This inquiry unit, excerpted from Uncommon Core and built around essential questions addressing Martin Luther King's A Letter from Birmingham Jail, not only develops students' reading and writing skills, but also helps students grapple with important social issues.
“This book represents what we should all be doing with the CCSS—making suggestions for modifying them so that they stand a chance of achieving the goals behind them. Unless the CCSS are a living document that can be shaped and reshaped by the educators and students who are held accountable to them, they will fail. Read this book to help them succeed.”
“Finally! A book with more light than heat on the issue of standards and their implications for learning. This is a well-argued, even-handed, and clear-headed look at the need to distinguish the value of the Common Core Standards from some of the questionable views of teaching and learning that standards writers and promoters have been expressing. . . . Every teacher of reading, supervisor, and district leader will find value in this text.”
“Talk about overdue! This book is an urgently needed corrective to the oversights, overreaches, and idiosyncratic weirdness of the Common Core Standards and what their authors say about how they should be taught. These authors aren’t standards-bashing; they stipulate that the Common Core has ‘the capacity to provide a real opportunity for progressive change.’ . . . Thank goodness three of our best teacher-thinkers have come forward to speak truth to Zombie literacy. “
“Michael Smith, Deborah Appleman, and Jeff Wilhelm seek to salvage the Common Core State Standards from both their friends and their enemies. On the one hand, they systematically debunk the destructive pedagogy that many friends of the Standards have advocated. . . . On the other hand, they demonstrate to those who would reject the standards how they can enrich good practice as it has emerged from the last thirty years of research in reading and writing instruction. Readable, classroom friendly, and realistic, Uncommon Core is a must read for everyone struggling with the current wave of curriculum reform.”
“Prompted primarily by David Coleman's ill-informed interpretation of the instructional implications of the CCSS, Smith, Appleman, and Wilhelm have written an important and compelling book describing the kinds of instruction that will help teachers and students actually achieve the goals of the Common Core. With lucid descriptions and a host of classroom-tested examples, the authors demonstrate ‘Where the Authors of the Standards Go Wrong About Instruction and How You Can Get It Right.’”