Science and the ELA Common Core

No, the common core for science has not been approved.

Apparently, there is some controversy swirling around the Common Core in English.  Many teachers are changing their English and Literature courses by removing some fiction and poetry to make room to teach students to read “informational text” according to this article by Lyndsey Layton at the Washington Post.

In practice, the burden of teaching the nonfiction texts is falling to English teachers, said Mark Bauerlein, an English professor at Emory University: “You have chemistry teachers, history teachers saying, ‘We’re not going to teach reading and writing, we have to teach our subject matter. That’s what you English teachers do.’ ”

Right.  English teachers teach reading and writing, math teachers teach math, and science teachers teach science.  Right?

In my opinion, wrong.  English teachers go beyond reading and grammar rules to prose, voice, and pacing.  They teach the nuance, the difference between types of writing.  Math teachers teach alternate ways of expressing relationships between measurable things.  And science teachers take advantage of all these skills.

One thing that I’ve noticed about the changes in education since I was a student myself, is there are fewer teachers and classrooms have more students.  Also, teachers have much less time for planning. I have visited a school in my area where each DAY the teachers can sit together and figure out ways that they can support the lessons in their classrooms in a unified way.  The science teacher wants to talk about engineering diagrams?  Well then the Art teacher works on shading and 3D sketching.  The science teacher wants students to write better lab reports?  Well then the English teacher can support him by teaching students the nuance of a factual voice.  (And yes, I do like constructivist teaching, but that’s for another day.)

So now we are at a place where the English teachers don’t have time to for informational text?  Sounds like a perfect time for the science teachers out there to increase the informational background reading for their subjects.  This might even go beyond my usual suggestion to find science in kids books in the lower grade – this would be the deliberate integration of different subjects.  Why does the amount of reading in particular types of writing have to only be measured in English class?

I wish the common core would do something about that.  Imagine a curriculum where all the subjects worked together.

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