No one asked me.
I wasn’t invited.
But I have great ideas too and I work for cheap!
If I would have been invited to rewrite the reading and writing standards for Ohio’s school children in kindergarten through grade five this is what I would have suggested, and I wouldn’t have even charged the state a single cent for their development!
Strand One: Reading Enjoyment (All grade levels)
1.1 Students will enjoy reading and encounter a variety of reasons to read, a variety of types of texts to read, and will have positive experiences with texts for most - if not all - class periods.
1.2 Students will enjoy listening to and giving book talks with peers, the teacher, online, and special guests, so that students can decide what interests them most.
1.3 Students will not be asked to read outdated books with which they cannot relate, texts that are so hard they can’t read most of the words, or books that are about topics that have no real-world relevance.
1.4 Students will not sit in their seats working on worksheets for the bulk of language arts time. Instead they will be given time to read silently in comfortable settings on their own, to read with others, and to talk about books.
Strand Two: Essential Reading Skills (All grade levels)
2.1 Phonological Awareness
Students who have not mastered phonological awareness skills will be taught this in a fun and engaging way. Research shows that 80-90% of students with reading disabilities have a weakness in this area, so we know it is essential and should not be skipped over!
Students will be taught whatever decoding and encoding skills they have shown they need in order to be better readers and writers. Instead of being taught an exhausting list of sometimes useful and some not-so-useful spelling patterns, the teacher will listen while the child reads to find out what types of words and spelling patterns are actually keeping the child from being able to attend to meaning. These phonics patterns will be taught. The teacher will also observe spelling patterns in the child’s writing and teach patterns that keep the child from spelling appropriate words correctly. These phonics patterns will be taught as well.
Students of all ages and levels will be engaged in activities that promote learning of new words and their meanings including: opportunity to read lots of texts (since this is the best way for kids to learn new vocabulary), the opportunity to discuss with others new and interesting words with which they are not already familiar, and opportunities to use these new and interesting words in a variety of situations).
Students will understand that the single most important reason for reading is to understand the information the author has written!
Students will read well out loud, in a manner that sounds good to the listener’s ear, but will read silently most of the day because of the amazing amount of benefits that come with silent reading versus reading out loud.
Strand Three: Writing Skills (All grades)
3.1 Students will have many opportunities each day to write for real reasons.
3.2 Students will have many opportunities to watch the teacher write (modeling) a variety of types of writing.
3.3 Students will be provided with time to share their writing with others.
3.4 The content/ideas within students’ writing will always be the primary focus of instruction and feedback, although students will be provided with a variety of tools to increase their ability to independently work toward correct conventions (a teacher’s editing using a red pen does not count as one of these ‘tools’)
Of course, legislators (aka Big Brother) will want to measure how well students are learning these standards, so I would also be willing to offer an assessment that matches these standards. For no cost, I have developed the standardized assessment found below.
Additionally I have saved the state a large sum of money simply by having the teacher administer and score the assessment for each of their own students. Scores will be shared with parents and the principal, who will work independently with the teacher to increase his/her abilities to meet the needs of children within their classroom if needed.
As a result, the state will not need many paid staff members due to the fact that they are no longer needed to create, administer, collect, score and report the assessments. This money savings can be provided to local schools to actually help teachers learn how to better meet the standards, to fill classrooms with many, many books, and to provide smaller class sizes so that teachers can get to know their students well in order to teach exactly what they need!
My proposed assessment:
Question 1 - Aligned with Strand One
“Do you like to read? Why or why not?”
Question 2 – Aligned with Strand Two
“Read a book for me so I can listen to you read, and then tell me about it!”
Question 3 – Aligned with Strand Three
“Write something for me so I can see how well you write!”
And to think that it only took my about an hour to write the standards and the assessment! If only they had asked me to rewrite the standards...