Instead of learning a massive number of standards (for example, there are 50 standards for 10th grade World History in California, according to Kelly Gallagher), students should focus on just a few and learn them deeply.
Though it’s controversial to say so, that’s part of the goal of the Common Core State Standards. The CCSS will reduce the number of standards in English Language Arts to 10 per grade level. As students get older, the standards get harder, but they don’t change.
But what will change is the difficulty and the amount of reading — in two ways.
First, Common Core demands that teachers assign more challenging texts. Second, the standards require students to devote much more time to reading.
Ms. Jago sees both changes as good ones — that when it comes to reading, more is more. Instead of fearing that students won’t read for homework, assign it. Rather than viewing a video, give students a reading. Be passionate about reading and your students will follow, Ms. Jago says. And if you don’t believe her, just remember the one thing she knows for sure: “The teenagers I taught were always hungry (for literature).”
Though I sometimes bristle at Ms. Jago’s confidence (perhaps from jealousy?), I tend to agree with her. Students like to read, but they like to whine first and say they don’t like to read, knowing that we’ll succumb to their complaints. But it’ll take a significant shift for reading to become a substantial part of the typical high schooler’s day. In my observations this year, I’d estimate that students spend an average of 20-25 minutes per day reading.
For more to be more, for reading to be emphasized, for students to improve their reading skills, and for students to achieve the Common Core standards, that will have to change.