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Core Knowledge Reading RoomThe Case for a Content-rich Curriculum
Building Knowledge: The Case for Bringing Content into the Language Arts Block and for a Knowledge-Rich Curriculum Core for All Children
By E. D. Hirsch, Jr.
American Educator, Spring 2006
Knowledge of content and the vocabulary acquired through learning about content are fundamental to successful reading comprehension; without broad knowledge, children’s reading comprehension will not improve and their test scores will not budge upwards either. Yet content is not adequately addressed in American schools, especially in the early grades. None of our current methods attempt to steadily build up children’s knowledge–not the empty state and district language arts standards, which rarely mention a specific text or piece of information; not the reading textbooks, which jump from one trivial piece to another; and not the comprehension drills conducted in schools in the long periods of 90-120 minutes devoted to language arts. These all promote the view that comprehension depends on having formal skills rather than broad knowledge.
How Knowledge Helps: It Speeds and Strengthens Reading Comprehension, Learning–and Thinking
By Daniel T. Willingham
American Educator, Spring 2006
Acquiring knowledge does for the brain what exercise does for the body: The more you learn, the better your brain functions. Knowledge is not only cumulative, it grows exponentially. So, the more you know, the more easily you learn new things. Knowledge improves your ability to remember new things, and it actually improves the quality and speed of your thinking.
Core Knowledge Enhanced Reading Skills, Study Finds
By Anna M. Phillips
The New York Times, March 11, 2012
Children in New York City who learned to read using the Core Knowledge Language Arts curriculum outperformed those at other schools that used methods that have been encouraged since the Bloomberg administration's early days, according to a new study. For three years, a pilot program tracked the ability of approximately 1,000 students at twenty New York City schools, following them from kindergarten through second grade. Half of the schools adopted a curriculum designed by the education theorist E. D. Hirsch Jr.'s Core Knowledge Foundation. The other 10 used a variety of methods, but most fell under the definition of "balanced literacy," an approach that was spread citywide by former Schools Chancellor, Joel I. Klein, beginning in 2003.
The Curriculum Reformation
By Sol Stern
City Journal, Summer 2012
No matter how the debate over Common Core State Standards plays out, one undeniably positive development has resulted from all this. For the first time in almost half a century, education administrators and policymakers around the country are seriously discussing the role of a content-based curriculum in raising student achievement. And that menas long-overdue recognition of the ideas of E. D. Hirsch, one of America's greatest but also most neglected education reformers.
Envisioning a Common Core Curriculum
American Educator, Winter 2012
A special issue of American Educator advocated for a common core curriculum. But what should such a curriculum look like? It should be detailed and specific, but not scripted. It should offer extensive support for teaching, such as lesson plans and classroom assessments, but using those supports should not be mandatory. The new Core Knowledge Language Arts program for kindergarten through second grades seems to fit that description.
There’s No Such Thing As a Reading Test
By E.D. Hirsch, Jr. and Robert Pondiscio
The American Prospect, June 13, 2010
Schools and teachers may be making a Herculean effort to raise reading scores, but their efforts can do little to improve reading achievement. This wasted effort is not because our teachers are lazy or of low quality. Rather, too many of our schools labor under fundamental misconceptions about reading comprehension -- how it works, how to improve it, and how to test it.
PBS's John Merrow looks at how Common Core State Standards will change reading instruction in U.S. schools. PS 96 in Queens, NY is among the schools profiled. Says Principal Joyce Barrett-Walker, "When I look at the expectations with Common Core learning standards, we're where we need to be right now!"
In this YouTube video, University of Virginia cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham describes why content knowledge is essential to reading with comprehension—and why teaching reading strategies alone is not sufficient.
Core Knowledge Language Arts Presentations and Articles
"More Than Words: An Early Grades Reading Programs Builds Skills and Knowledge," American Educator, Fall 2012.
Teaching Kids to Read, free download by Ted Hirsch.
"When Two Vowels Go Walking," Common Knowledge, 20.3, Oct. 2007.
"Two Ways of Explaining the Listening and Learning Strand", Common Knowledge 20.2, July 2007.
"‘Ph’ is for Phonics: The Great Decoding Debate," Common Knowledge 20.1, January 2007.
"The Simple View of Reading", Common Knowledge 19.2, October, 2006.
"Green Eggs and Ham: Or The Case for Phonics Instruction and Decodable Text," Common Knowledge 19.1, July, 2006.