L.CCR.5 — that’s the 5th (and penultimate!) College and Career Readiness anchor standard within the Language strand of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for ELA/Literacy — says:
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
Ray Bradbury was dominating this standard from the day he was born. In fact, before he passed away, Ray wrote L.CCR.5.
Ray Bradbury also ate this standard with his Cheerios every morning
Okay, so Ray was not a part of the committee that wrote this standard, and I’m not sure what he ate for breakfast every morning.
But it is true that Bradbury is one of the greatest language-player-with’ers of all time. He couldn’t leave language alone; he compulsively submitted it to the writerly equivalent of hot yoga.
And it’s also true that if you teach your students a text like Fahrenheit 451, they are going to have a Jacob-vs-God-style wrestling match with L.CCR.5.
But seriously: let’s look at what a college and career ready person can do based on L.CCR.5.
Meaning one thing, saying another
The reason I call this the Bradbury standard is because, as a freshman English teacher in our building, I’m required to teach Fahrenheit 451.
Within the first page of that book, readers are faced with a serpent that’s actually a hose, venom that’s actually kerosene, and an orchestral conductor that’s actually a pyromaniacal fireman.
And this is just the figurative language. Throughout the rest of the book, students are repeatedly faced with word nuance (e.g., the use of the word “anti-social”), odd word relationships, and boatloads of similes, metaphors, personifications, hyperboles, allusions…
But let’s look outside of literature.
How about Leonard Pitts’ latest column, “One Man’s Fix to End Politics as Usual“? In this editorial, Pitts uses these words: crusade, quixotic, undaunted, mission, driven, tilting at windmills. Through using these related words, he implicitly paints Robert Kilmer as a hopelessly outmatched but pure-hearted knight of contemporary US politics.
Or consider the several texts that are required by the CCSS. In these documents and text types, there are L.CCR.5 tasks galore.
In short, there are chances to practice L.CCR.5 in almost any text you put in front of students; the key is to do this work in the context of an actual text, either one being read or one being written, rather than via worksheets or banal exercises.