Reading and Craft-Anchor Standards Part 1

Anchor standards are a shared responsibility and were designed for every content area.  When I think back to the standards we had under No Child Left Behind, I cringe.  The Common Core State Standards are much more manageable.  They focus on the universal skills students need and can be applied to any subject area.  This post focuses on Reading Standards as we begin a four-part series looking at Reading, Writing, and Listening and Speaking, and Math Practice skills.


The Text: Just a reminder that the term “text” refers to ANYTHING that can be analyzed: Political cartoons, fiction/nonfiction writing, music, art, speech, clothing, book covers, photographs, advertisements, political speeches and debates, videos, audio, graphs, charts, equations, recipes.


The anchor reading standards invite students to closer readings of the text.  They ask teachers to design lessons that go beyond surface level.  Reading/comprehension and recall questions are not enough.  We need our students to be able to engage not only with WHAT is said, but also HOW the author crafts meaning, and then have them make connections with other ideas from content areas, current events, history, and their own experiences.  Later we can use these same ideas to prompt student writing… Have them think about WHAT they want to say, HOW they want to say it, and WHAT their purpose is.

Understanding the Standards

In order to understand the reading anchor standards, let’s examine the three categories:  Key Ideas and Details, Craft and Structure, and Integration of Knowledge and Ideas.  Take a look at each category and what is being asked:

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-8-21-15-pm Keeping the “WHAT, HOW, and WHAT” in mind can be helpful when we plan lessons.


If you are not an English teacher, you may have questions about craft and structure.  Craft is something that students have to slow down to notice.  When Robert had his students look at word choice in the Statue of Liberty poem, he was focusing on craft.  When I ask my students to identify the most powerful word in a speech by JFK and discuss why he used that particular word, I am asking them to look at craft.  When a science teacher asks her students to discuss the objectivity in a model lab report, she is asking students to study craft.

We must ask our students to think like scholars in our content areas.  Think like a mathematician, a historian, a chef, a scientist, an athlete, a musician, an artist.  When we ask them to take on these perspectives, we offer them a way into craft.  Through the analysis of craft and models, we also offer them possibilities for their own writing and creating.

What does the study of craft look like in your content area?  What models do you use?  How can you create reading lessons that hit all three areas so that students move beyond surface level reading and thinking?   I can offer suggestions for any content areas…but I would also love to gather ideas!  If you are working on a reading standard, please let me know and I will come visit!