Thursday, May 9, 2013

What students will read under Common Core

I am not joining those calling for putting a stop to common core. I think it is, on balance, a positive development. I don't think it is a U.N. plot to take away our sovereignty, or an attempt to impose Sharia law, or part of Agenda 21. Not every new development is part of some grand conspiracy. However, that does not mean I am totally happy with it.  Common Core’s English standards stress nonfiction over literature. According to Common Core, by grade twelve, seventy percent of what students read should be informational rather than literary.  I don't like that young people will be less exposed to great literature and instead be required to read boring government documents. I have to read boring government documents. It may make them hate reading.  That is my fear, but I am going to trust the experts on this.

There is still some challenging reading on the reading recommendations list. If eleventh graders are reading Crime and Punishment and Don Quixote and Farewell to Arms, I don't think we are "dumbing down" our kids.  Also, if kids are reading the Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, C. K. Chesterton, H. L. Mencken, and Alexis de Tocqueville, I do not think one can say this is a plot to turn them into liberal mind-numbed robots. Those selections should warm the heart of conservatives. Not that there are not some selections with a liberal bias also, but on balance it is not a bad list.

Below is the suggested reading list for eleventh graders.  Look at it.   I have highlighted some of the selection I especially or that I like or that I am glad to see on the list.

Grades 11–CCR Text Exemplars

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales
de Cervantes, Miguel. Don Quixote
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice
Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Cask of Amontillado.”
Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter
Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment
Jewett, Sarah Orne. “A White Heron.”
Melville, Herman. Billy Budd, Sailor
Chekhov, Anton. “Home.”
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby
Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying
Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God
Borges, Jorge Luis. “The Garden of Forking Paths.”
Bellow, Saul. The Adventures of Augie March
Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye
Garcia, Cristina. Garcia, Cristina. Dreaming in Cuban
Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Namesake


Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet
Molière, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin. Tartuffe
Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest
Wilder, Thornton. Our Town: A Play in Three Acts
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman
Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun
Soyinka, Wole. Death and the King’s Horseman: A Play
Poetry Li Po. “A Poem of Changgan.”
Donne, John. “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning.”
Wheatley, Phyllis. “On Being Brought From Africa to America.”
Keats, John. “Ode on a Grecian Urn.”
Whitman, Walt. “Song of Myself.”
Dickinson, Emily. “Because I Could Not Stop for Death.”
Tagore, Rabindranath. “Song VII.”
Eliot, T. S. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”
Pound, Ezra. “The River Merchant’s Wife: A Letter.”
Frost, Robert. “Mending Wall.”
Neruda, Pablo. “Ode to My Suit.”
Bishop, Elizabeth. “Sestina.”
Ortiz Cofer, Judith. “The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica.”
Dove, Rita. “Demeter’s Prayer to Hades.”
Collins, Billy. “Man Listening to Disc.”

Informational Texts: English Language Arts 

Paine, Thomas. Common Sense
Jefferson, Thomas. The Declaration of Independence United States.
The Bill of Rights (Amendments One through Ten of the United States Constitution)
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden Emerson,
Ralph Waldo. “Society and Solitude.”
Porter, Horace. “Lee Surrenders to Grant, April 9th, 1865.”
Chesterton, G. K. “The Fallacy of Success.”
Mencken, H. L. The American Language, 4th Edition
Wright, Richard. Black Boy
Orwell, George. “Politics and the English Language.”
Hofstadter, Richard. “Abraham Lincoln and the Self-Made Myth.”
Tan, Amy. “Mother Tongue.”
Anaya, Rudolfo. “Take the Tortillas Out of Your Poetry.”

Informational Texts: History/Social Studies 

Tocqueville, Alexis de. Democracy in America
Declaration of Sentiments by the Seneca Falls Conference
Douglass, Frederick. “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?:
An Address Delivered in Rochester, New York, on 5 July 1852.”
An American Primer. Edited by Daniel J. Boorstin Lagemann,
Ellen Condliffe. “Education.”
McPherson, James M. What They Fought For 1861–1865
The American Reader: Words that Moved a Nation, 2nd Edition
Amar, Akhil Reed. America’s Constitution: A Biography
McCullough, David. 1776
Bell, Julian. Mirror of the World: A New History of Art
FedViews by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Informational Texts: Science, Mathematics, and Technical Subjects 

Paulos, John Allen. Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences
Gladwell, Malcolm. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Tyson, Neil deGrasse. “Gravity in Reverse: The Tale of Albert Einstein’s ‘Greatest Blunder.’”
Calishain, Tara, and Rael Dornfest. Google Hacks: Tips & Tools for Smarter Searching, 2nd Edition Kane, Gordon. “The Mysteries of Mass.”
Fischetti, Mark. “Working Knowledge: Electronic Stability Control.”
U.S. General Services Administration. Executive Order 13423:
Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management
Kurzweil, Ray. “The Coming Merger of Mind and Machine.”
Gibbs, W. Wayt. “Untangling the Roots of Cancer.”
Gawande, Atul. “The Cost Conundrum: Health Care Costs in McAllen, Texas.”

For more see the following links:
Here’s what kids will read under Common Core.
List: What Common Core authors suggest high schoolers should read
Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts Text Exemplars

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