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Common Core SL.CCR.4 Explained

By Dave Stuart Jr.

Hello awesome Teaching the Core readers! In our plodding quest to conquer the anchor standards, we’ve arrived at SL.CCR.4.

SL.CCR.4 — that’s the 4th College and Career Readiness anchor standard within the Speaking and Listening strand of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for ELA/Literacy — says:

Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

I think I’ll call this one the “stand and deliver” standard, or maybe the “who wouldn’t hire you if you can’t do this?” standard. Perhaps you could even call it the “it doesn’t sound sexy, but it is” standard.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s explore SL.CCR.4 a bit.

“Give it to me straight, Johnny”

At its core, this standard is about speaking well in front of people on factual topics. The kind of speaking task it envisions seems pretty no-nonsense. Essentially, SL.CCR.4 seems to be saying, “Give an effective and informative report.

Now, I know that doesn’t sound sexy, but let’s be real on two things before we hate on SL.CCR.4:

  1. There are very few employment sectors where this skill isn’t highly valuable and highly promotion-friendly. My brother-in-law recently began working at a new company, and he made a profound observation to me the other day: “My bosses don’t want opinions on labor issues from a new guy like me; they want quick and easy-to-follow reports and comments.” Now, my broski is a creative dude, and I know his creative gifts will flourish more and more as he grows at his workplace. But, in the meantime, he needs to be able to do stuff that, on the surface level, might appear boring.
  2. Yet there’s also a TON of room for creativity in presenting information. In my broski’s position as an entry-level office employee of a large corporation, his task and his audience puts definite limits on how his creativity can shape his reports. But what if your task is something you’ve taken on yourself? What if you’ve decided that you’re going to start a business or a nonprofit?

Scott Harrison and SL.CCR.4

Common Core State Standards, Scott Harrison, SL.CCR.4If you don’t know the story of Scott Harrison, you need to know it now. For the sake of our discussion of SL.CCR.4, let me break it down this way:

  • Scott wanted to present information about the water crisis to people who could do something about it (there’s his task and his audience). His purpose in doing this was to motivate people to do what they could about the water crisis.
  • To do this, Scott apparently dropped every preconception about how this kind of thing should be done. He wanted his message and his call to action to be simple enough to tweet.
  • Toward this end, Scott founded Charity:Water. From the organization’s name (it’s a charity for providing water) to its promotional materials (check out this video) to its fund allocation principles (100% of public donations go to charity work; admin costs are funded by a select group of private donors), Charity:Water maintains a simple and direct message and call to action.
  • As a result of Scott’s intuitive SL.CCR.4 skillz (and, I think he would agree, by the grace of God and the generosity of average people), Charity:Water has provided clean water to 2.5 million people around the world.

In the introduction to this post, I tried out a few sample nicknames for SL.CCR.4, but maybe I’ve found it now: SL.CCR.4 is the Scott Harrison standard. (Click to tweet.)

It all comes back to TAP

Remember W.CCR.4? That was the writing anchor standard that I called the Task, Audience, Purpose (or TAP) standard.

I think TAP is something we want to put in front of our students again and again K-12. We want them to habitually analyze a writing or speaking task in terms of these three factors (or, for reading and listening tasks, for only task and purpose). It will make them efficient. It will make them effective.

In fact, attending to TAP will inevitably make our students ninjas. (Click here to tweet the heck out of this.)

In my broski’s situation as a new employee in a big corporation, he needs to gain the respect of his superiors right now, and that requires that he keep presentations short, sweet, and clear, and that he do a great job at delivering consistent results and solving problems within his sandbox. Because he is cognizant of TAP, he’s very likely to rise up the ol’ ladder.

But in the case of Charity:Water, Scott Harrison needed to present the water crisis to a tech-connected, skeptical generation. To do this, he made some major design changes to the concept of a charity and essentially created a concept that could fit in a tweet or a short YouTube video.

So there we have it: SL.CCR.4.

How do you focus students on TAP during speaking/listening tasks in your class? What ideas does this article spark in your brain?

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