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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Learning outcomes versus teaching tools

July 11, 2012

Over at Shanahan on Literacy, Dr. Shanahan wrote an interesting post We Zigged When We Should Have Zagged about the lack of comprehension strategies in the Common Core State Standards.

For those familiar with the Common Core Standards, you know they're chock full of learning outcomes for students in grades K-12. There are reading standards for literature and informational text and standards for writing, college and career readiness, language, speaking and listening. Many states are working to align their standards with Common Core. California recently released draft standards that align English-language development standards with Common Core. Teachers in 45 states and three territories are also learning how to teach alongside the Common Core Standards.

In his blog, Shanahan reminds us that "strategies were not included in the standards because the standards are learning goals. That is, they are the learning outcomes that we are striving to for students to accomplish. Strategies are not an outcome." I think this is an important point. Students aren't tested on strategies, but rather their ability to read and interpret text. It's important for teachers to remember that strategies can be the tools used to reach our goals, but they're not the goal themselves.

That said, comprehension strategies are an important part of K-3 classroom reading instruction. Wondering which ones to teach? And how to teach in ways that create independent learners who use strategies on their own? One good resource to start with is the IES Practice Guide Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through Third Grade.

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