R.CCR.1 — or, in regular people’s language, the first College/Career Readiness anchor standard within the Reading strand of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for ELA/Literacy — reads as follows:
Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
As I’ve said elsewhere, I appreciate that the CCSS reading and writing strands limit themselves to 10 anchor standards. 10 is a clean number; it’s manageable. But, as you can see from the text of R.CCR.1, there are actually multiple skills within the standards. So, what does R.CCR.1 entail?
1. Reading closely
Close reading is the core of this anchor standard. When we closely read a text, we are able to detect what it says, what it doesn’t say, and why it matters. This is accomplished through creating courses in which students read a variety of complex texts, have rich and rigorous discussions based on complex texts, and write from complex texts.
2. Comprehending literal/explicit meaning
The literal meaning of a text answers the question, “What does it say?” When reading complex texts that align with the “staircase of complexity” laid out by the CCSS, even this basic level of comprehension requires modeling for many students. Teachers can read a segment of a complex text aloud, modeling how they comprehend what a text is literally talking about, and then students can be set loose to do it themselves on the next segment.
3. Inferring implied/implicit meaning
The implied meaning of a text is much trickier and perhaps more important; it answers the question, “What does it not say?” or, perhaps less cryptically, “What does it say without directly saying it?” In Deeper Reading, Kelly Gallagher shares a passage that he uses to ease students into the concept of inference. While reading the following passage, Gallagher asks his students to hypothesize where the narrator is sitting:
I can’t believe I have been sitting here among all these sick people for over an hour waiting for them to call my name. Why do they overschedule so many patients? I hope I am called next, for I don’t know how much longer I can tolerate this sore throat (81).
From reading this, students easily infer that the narrator is sitting in a doctor’s waiting room. Even though the passage doesn’t literally say, “I was sitting in the doctor’s office,” it gives plenty of clues telling us as much.
4. Drawing text-based conclusions using specific textual evidence
When we ask students about what they read, we need to ask questions that require specific textual evidence. For example, when I ask, “What does this passage mean?” I need to insist that students give evidence to support their answers. I have talked about this elsewhere on the blog, but I’d be happy to do it in greater depth — just let me know in the comments section below.