The Common Core is little more than a promise. How it is implemented will make all the difference. That's why this post by Catlin Tucker, a high school English language arts teacher in Sonoma County, California, gives me hope.
Tucker does not abandon literature in her ninth and tenth grade ELA classrooms. Instead, she pairs fiction with digital texts about contemporary issues that stir debate and get students thinking about right, wrong, fair, and unfair. In so doing, she allows for a deeper understanding of literary works that can seem abstract or even irrelevant to young people who may lack the needed context and life experience.
In Tucker's class, students' appreciation of To Kill a Mockingbird, for instance, is enhanced by readings about the death penalty and racial inequality in the justice system.
On her blog, Tucker offers other suggested pairings, including Of Mice and Men with articles about immigration and migrant workers, Lord of the Flies with examinations of human nature, and Shakespeare's Othello with essays about racial stereotypes.
Tucker's approach seems to offer the best of all worlds: fiction and nonfiction paired in a way that enriches both; purposeful experiences with digital texts and print; and even read-alouds.
Reading aloud is one of the greatest gifts you can give a child—even a high school student. You help accelerate the building of knowledge and vocabulary, especially for struggling readers, foster fluency and, perhaps most important, spark a love affair with literature.
If you don't feel comfortable reading aloud, tap some aspiring actors and actresses in your classroom. school, or community. Then sit back and enjoy the show.