Common Core and Vocab

A quote from a friend of mine, who would prefer to remain anonymous:

This common core vocabulary book is literally ruining my classes.

Normally, the study of vocabulary is integrated into the books we are reading, so I don’t have to interrupt the study of the book we’re on to do vocab exercises. Also the exercises are decidedly NOT based on sound classroom practice. They require students to primarily fill in the blanks, rather than think about and use the words. Their quizzes reflect this deficiency: they use the words in an overly literal way related to the definitions, that are frequently awkward, incorrect, and not sound usage of the words. Moreover, as I’m sure we all remember from our vocab exercises growing up, we rarely remembered any of those words after the quiz. It encourages the “fill and dump” rote memorization. What we should be doing is having students read hard words, try to figure out the sentences, and then use the words in new ways. Using something sticks.

Anyway, the end result is that they’re not using the words, I’m wasting 1 and a half days per week on this, and not making any progress on the stories we’re reading, or the units we’re in the middle of. I can’t teach the way I want to, like by actually engaging them, because I’m sitting there with the book out drilling them on fill-in-the-blanks like I’m in a pre-1900’s schoolhouse with a grammar book.

Given the Common Core’s design considerations for ELA, I’m not sure why there even is a vocab book associated with it. It seems to almost run counter to their stated goals. I’m not saying that I’m surprised by such an implementation, just disappointed. More reasons why I wouldn’t want to teach in a public school.


About Colin Fredericks

By day I help to create online courses at HarvardX. By night I write roleplaying games.

Posted on September 20, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Sounds quite familiar…

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