This is what a Common Core Close Reading Looks Like
This assignment below is from a Missouri middle school but I would guess you might be seeing some of the same type of informational text assignment in your state as well. The student was told to make an argument based on this one sheet only from a piece in Time magazine. The parent reports that the student was in tears as not enough information was allowed to make an educated argument.
Note that this is from The Times Editorial Board. It is an opinion piece and doesn’t give many facts to support its argument such as:
What is the conventional wisdom they defied?
Why isn’t the bill perfect?
What are the drawbacks?
What are the constitutional arguments either for or against the bill?
Why is E-verification controversial?What is the current immigration law and why does it need to be replaced?
“Making an argument” is the new terminology from the Common Core English Language Arts (ELA). Some have likened it to the oral practice of formal debate where teams prepare arguments for both sides of an issue and only learn, at the debate itself, which side they will be arguing for. This assignment, however, lacks the multi-source research that typically goes into preparation for a formal debate. It lacks concrete details or citations for the facts presented in it. This assignment “defies conventional wisdom” for English papers which never use a single opinion source as valid support for a thesis. It is clearly an attempt to require students to read non-fiction of a particular ideology and then defend that ideology in an attempt to nudge them into adopting such ideology as their own.
By taking a ELA standards, close reading, writing an argument, reading non-fiction literature, the developers of this social studies lesson plan have introduced a social studies standard without ever having to have it formally reviewed or approved. Remember, there are NO Social Studies standards. Students will just be taught English and math standards across curricula. Isn’t that a neat little way to achieve change without ever having to ask permission or get approval?