Disciplinary Literacy: Big Ideas
“As a natural outgrowth of meeting the charge to define college and career readiness, the Standards also lay out a vision of what it means to be a literate person in the twenty-first century. Indeed, the skills and understandings students are expected to demonstrate have wide applicability outside the classroom or workplace." – Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects, p. 3.
Common Core State Standards
Curriculum is the substance of all teaching and learning across the disciplines. The curriculum for a discipline serves as the basis for planning instruction and assessment of student learning. Often, curriculum is developed and defined by school-based curriculum committees who determine a progressive growth of skills and knowledge within a subject area. These committees consider the appropriate content, key concepts, strategies, relevant texts, and even graduation requirements to promote meaningful learning. The underlying consideration is what students will know and be able to do throughout and at the end of a course of study.
In many states, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) provide an important foundation for curriculum. The CCSS were developed as an outgrowth and extension of earlier literacy initiatives, such as No Child Left Behind. While the emphasis of earlier initiatives was on strengthening the literacy skills and strategies of students in the early grades (K–3), the CCSS provide both broad and grade-specific standards in grades K–12 for English language arts across the curriculum. The goal was to define standards that meet the requirements for college and career readiness (CCR) as students move through the grades.
A set of anchor standards was designed for reading, writing, language, and listening and speaking. These anchor standards remain consistent across the grade levels; grade-specific standards are written within the framework of the anchor standards. In grades K–5, grade-specific standards are provided for ELA only: reading, writing, language, and listening and speaking. Beginning in grade 6 and through grade 12, grade-specific literacy standards are provided for ELA, social studies, science, and technical subjects. The K–12 CCSS can be accessed at www.corestandards.org.
The CCSS do not prescribe specific teaching methods or practices and allow for teachers and administrators to determine the necessary instruction and materials to support students in achieving the goals of the standards by the end of each school year.