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Common Core Standards: ELA

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading

Reading CCRA.R.1

This first Anchor Standard for Reading can be broken into a few basic parts: read the text; explain what the text says; explain what you can reasonably guess is true based on what’s in the text; and point out the parts of the text that make those guesses “reasonable,” as opposed to “wild.”

Example 1

Reading like Sherlock

This anchor standard basically asks students to do two things:

1. Solve the mysteries of the text through close reading and making inferences.
2. Prove their case in court by citing specific text evidence that supports their ideas.

This is the first reading standard because, in one way or another, it relates to all the other reading standards. In order to determine the theme, discuss the characters, analyze the text’s structure, etc., students must first be able to read closely, make inferences, and support those inferences with the text. If you can set this standard as the foundation for everything else you do with a text, your students will be well on their way to mastering all ten standards. Our advice? Make “Prove it!” your new class motto and hit the books with your students.

Have you hit some resistance when it comes to “hitting the books?” Usually students approach a long reading passage as Captain Ahab approaches the Great White Whale; they just want to yell and throw a stick at it. But wait, there is hope! Encourage students to approach the passage like Watson and Holmes instead, and they’ll be fine. Rather than doing a deadly dance with a monster, they need to gather clues and sort out the logical conclusions. Hey, kids, whip out your steampunk pipe and magnifying glass and the passage will, in short, be neutralized.

Example 2

Crazy Little Thing Called Logic

Let’s take a closer look at part one of this standard: “Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.”

Teaching students to read closely involves helping them tune into their “reading voice.” You know, that little voice in your head that chatters in the background as you read, saying things like, “Wait a minute, that doesn’t make sense...Oh, I get it now...Hold on, is he really the killer?...Wow, she is totally selfish, isn’t she?...Um, what?” If students can learn to listen consciously to this voice and track their thinking as they read, they will begin picking up on the clues in the text and will be able to use those clues to make and support inferences.

There are several ways to help students track their understanding of a passage. Not surprisingly, these methods involve taking notes and annotating the text as they read. We all know students want to just zip through the passages and get straight to the questions, so be prepared for some eye-rolling and whining on this one. We recommend that you model this process for your students. Put a passage up on the projector and walk through your thinking out loud. What clues would you highlight? What marginal notes would you make? How do these notes help you make and support inferences about the text?

Here are a few tips to pass on to your students:

  • Take the reading one paragraph at a time and try to discern the clear and literal meaning. Write it down in the margin of your paper to help you track the big ideas as they evolve.
  • Don’t forget to note your questions in the margins too. Places where you find yourself confused or wondering something or feeling inexplicably intrigued by some detail are likely to be important moments in the text that you’ll want to return to later. That reading voice of yours has good natural instincts, so listen to it.
  • These marginal notes aren’t just for giggles, they should serve a purpose, and that purpose should not be to simply rewrite what’s already in the text. Stop wallowing in how much work this is and organize your notes to infer or draw conclusions about the passage as a whole. These should be logical (make sense) according to what you’re reading. If the passage is about global warming, assumptions involving magical ponies would obviously not be advisable.
  • A Note on Highlighting: Highlighting with purpose? Good. Using highlighters to turn your paper into a neon collage? No good. We’re annotating here folks, not coloring. Only highlight the truly important clues that are likely to be useful in supporting your thinking. It’s okay if you’re a bit unsure at first; it takes practice to learn what is most important in a text.

Example 3

Student Rhapsody

Okay, now for part two: “Cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.”

This means students have to take their thoughts up a notch. Not only are they asked to understand the text clearly, they must also be able to speak or write about their interpretations with support from the text that proves their thinking is valid. The first thought for many students is, “How do I know which quote to use?” A fair question if starting from scratch, but thanks to you, they annotated the text as they read. Don’t worry, they’ll learn to appreciate your advice one of these days.

Speaking of advice, here’s some more to pass on to your students:

  • Remember those notes? You know, the ones you whined and complained about? Well, take a moment to review them and determine the line or short passage that best illustrates your inference or interpretation. Underline or highlight it. Then use it to support your thinking.
  • Don’t tailor your writing to fit a quote; rather, use a quote that compliments your ideas. If you’ve taken good reading notes, and if your inferences are valid, the right quote should be easy to locate. You can thank me later.

Example 4

Another One Bites Dust

All right Sherlock – the mystery is solved and the passage’s secret plot revealed. Reading texts aren’t the great burden students think they are when you show them how to divide and conquer. The text will never best them if they pay attention to the clues, and these skills of interpretation and analytical reading are essential for any subject matter. It’s elementary.

Quiz Questions

Here's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.

Time to get cracking. Read the following passage ...Oh, did you just get a text? I’ll wait... Okay read the following passage and answer the questions below (and you might want to put the cell down for a hot second). Don’t forget the awesome advice you were just given about annotating your texts. Wink, wink.

Sample Passage

So where do you do it? In the car…at your house… in class when your teacher isn’t looking? That’s right, cell phone usage is such a part of our global community that it is hard to find a person who isn’t plugged in. Teachers and students are undeniably at odds about phone usage in the classroom, and schools seem to be getting more and more lax about regulating it. Students are walking around the halls with phones attached to their heads and hands like they’re in a bad sci-fi flick. Some say that phones are harmless or necessary evils, but anyone who has been in a classroom knows that when a student is intently focused on the phone into his lap, not much learning is going on. Regardless of the rules, students will find a way to use them in school, so it is up to teachers to finagle student focus – fight with the Smartphone, not against it.

There is no denying a Smartphone is an amazing instrument. According to Webster, the first known usage of the word “Smartphone”1 was in 1997 by Ericsson to market their R380 device (Ozgur, 2011)2, and our beloved industry techies have never looked back. After more than a decade of development and the extension of social media, Smartphones enable an individual to be connected at all times. You can tweet, text, email, organize, update your FB status, and play Angry Birds all in one device. If teachers could harness the power of the Smartphone, it would do wonders for the modern classroom. The problem rests in App continuity between devices, anonymity issues, and collecting assessment data. However, these concerns don’t rule technology out altogether, as many devices catered to classroom needs exist already. As far as the Smartphone is concerned, until these hindrances are overcome, students and teachers will continue on like two warring households.

1 Smartphone. 2011. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved February 16, 2012, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/smartphone.

2  Ozgur. The Smartphone Revolution: The Growth of Smartphones and the Exchange ActiveSync. Retrieved February 16, 2012, from http://mail2web.com/blog/2011/05/smartphone-revolution-growth-smartphones-exchange-activesync/ .

  1. Okay so honestly, did you just read straight through that without underlining or noting anything? All right, I’ll give you an easy one to start, but you better go back and annotate—promise? What overarching point can be inferred from the text?

    Correct Answer:

    Teachers must update their teaching styles by incorporating technology such as Smartphones.

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (B). The author’s position is best discerned from the line, “fight with the Smartphone, not against it.” Option (A) is the exact opposite of the right answer. If you chose this answer, you were most likely confused by the line about schools being more lax in enforcing cell phone rules. But even though the author notes this fact, there is no argument here for stricter policies. Answer (C) may be a good opinion, but it has no support in the text; this passage is not about students with disabilities (unless their disability is not having a Smartphone). Option (D) is the obvious throw out, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true!


  2. Double or nothing: What can be inferred from the line, “Students are walking around the halls with phones attached to their heads and hands like they’re in a bad sci-fi flick?”

    Correct Answer:

    The author believes students utilize their cell phones excessively.

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (C). The analogy of students to sci-fi characters with technology attached to their bodies, suggests that the author believes students are too attached, or use their phones excessively (Darth Vader, Borgs, and Cylons, Oh My!). Option (A) may have fooled you only because the line uses the word “hallway,” but it does not imply that the use is “okay.” Option (B) is incorrect; the overall assertion is to “work with Smartphones.” It is important to read the lines surrounding a given text to avoid taking the meaning out of context.


  3. All right, Ace, choose the line(s) that best supports the following assertion: Teachers should not oppose cell phone use in classes; rather, they should attempt to integrate such tools into their lessons.

    Correct Answer:

    Both (A) and (C).

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (D). I hope you didn’t lose sleep over it. The two lines listed are from the first and second paragraph. Option (A) implies teachers may be able to use the Smartphone powers for good. Option (C) suggests teachers must divert student focus from idle use of the phone (like texting pookie about your date Saturday) to something more meaningful. As both of these may be used to support the assertion given, choosing only one of them would be super lame, like a Twilight tattoo. Option (B) simply lists the functions of the Smartphone and is poor support for the assertion specified.


  4. Pluck up, we’re almost done. Choose the best conclusion based on the following line: “The problem rests in App continuity between devices, anonymity issues, and collecting assessment data.”

    Correct Answer:

    Teachers will be unable to utilize the Smartphone as a potential learning tool until the shortcomings listed are rectified.

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (C) The last line of the second paragraph answers the question, and the concept of teachers using Smartphones in the classroom is repeated throughout the passage. Option (A) may have been tricky, but it is incorrect because the context does not suggest that the marketability of the Smartphone is a relevant conclusion. The audience of this text isn’t Smartphone manufacturers. Option (B) is wrong because nothing about the passage suggests that students are likely to stop using Smartphones. Option (D) is your magical ponies answer. Once again, the school policy was mentioned briefly in the first paragraph but holds little significance to the line presented.


  5. The end is near! In the line, “As far as the Smartphone is concerned, until these hindrances are overcome, students and teachers will continue on like two warring households,” the author is:

    Correct Answer:

    alluding to Romeo and Juliet in order to illustrate the opposition of students and teachers on the issue of current phone use in classrooms.

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (A). The author uses the phrase “warring households” to remind the reader of Romeo and Juliet (you know, the Montagues vs. the Capulets). This reference suggests that until there is a change in the way phones are used in the classroom the battle between teachers and students will continue. Option (B) is incorrect because Romeo and Juliet themselves are in love; the conflict exists between their households, not these two characters. Option (C) is incorrect because the line does not attempt to fan the fire; it actually tries to squelch it. Option (D) is not correct because the discussion is never narrowed to only English class.


Aligned Resources

More standards from College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading - Reading