A Division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Heinemann

Pathways to the Common Core

Accelerating Achievement

Lucy Calkins, Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Columbia University, Mary Ehrenworth, Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Columbia University, Christopher Lehman

ISBN 978-0-325-04355-5 / 0-325-04355-8 / 2012 / 224pp / Paperback
Imprint: Heinemann
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“As challenging as it must have been to write and finesse the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, that accomplishment is nothing compared to the work of teaching in ways that bring all students to these ambitious expectations. The goal is clear. The pathway is not.”
—Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, and Christopher Lehman

The Common Core is written, but the plan for implementing the Common Core is not.

Lucy Calkins and her colleagues at the Reading and Writing Project have helped thousands of educators design their own pathways to the Common Core. Now, with Pathways to the Common Core, they are ready to help you find your way.

Designed for teachers, school leaders, and professional learning communities looking to navigate the gap between their current literacy practices and the ideals of the Common Core, Pathways to the Common Core will help you:
   * understand what the standards say, suggest, and what they don’t say;
   * recognize the guiding principles that underpin the reading and writing standards;
   * identify how the Common Core’s infrastructure supports a spiraling K–12 literacy curriculum; and
   * scrutinize the context in which the CCSS were written and are being unrolled.

In addition to offering an analytical study of the standards, this guide will also help you and your colleagues implement the standards in ways that lift the level of teaching and learning throughout your school. Specifically, it will help you:
   * become a more critical consumer of the “standards-based” mandates that are flooding your desk;
   * craft instruction that supports students in reading more complex texts, developing higher level 
     comprehension skills, and writing at the ambitious levels of the CCSS;
   * develop performance assessments and other tools to propel Common Core reforms; and
   * create systems of continuous improvement that are transparent, collegial, and accountable.

Above all, this book will help you interpret the Common Core as a rallying cry that ignites deep, wide and lasting reforms and, most importantly, accelerates student achievement.

PD Resources from Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, and Christopher Lehman are available via Custom Institutes.

Also see Mary Ehrenworth’s new online course offered through our new Digital Campus

Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement

CHAPTER ONE - An Introduction to the Common Core State Standards
A reminder that we can view the standards in a negative or positive light, and an invitation to use what is best in the standards to leverage our work for whole school reform.


- Overview of the Reading Standards: What Do They Say and What Does This Mean for Us?
A nuts and bolts look at the reading standards, highlighting what the standards do and don’t value in reading comprehension for both literature and nonfiction, as well as implications for implementation.

CHAPTER THREE - Literal Understanding and Text Complexity: Standards 1 and 10
A close look at the CCSS’s emphasis on literal comprehension and grade level text complexity, with a focus on how to get students reading increasingly complex texts independently and proficiently.

CHAPTER FOUR - Reading Literature: Standards 2–9
A guide to trying out the literature standards with your colleagues, bringing you to a clear understanding of what this works entails for all readers and how to ramp up instruction for your students.

CHAPTER FIVE - Reading Informational Texts: Standards 2–9
A guide to trying out the informational texts standards with your colleagues, bringing you to a clear understanding of what this work entails for all readers and how to ramp up instruction for your students.


- Overview of the Writing Standards: What Do They Say and What Does This Mean for Us?
A nuts and bolts look at the writing standards, highlighting the three types of texts the standards call for, the quality of writing the standards expect, and the emphasis on writing process and writing across the disciplines.

CHAPTER SEVEN - The CCSS and Composing Narrative Texts
A look at the CCSS’s expectations for narrative writing, including the high level of writing the standards expect and the learning progressions the standards outline, followed by what this all means for instruction.

CHAPTER EIGHT - The CCSS and Composing Argument Texts
A look at the CCSS’s emphasis on argument and opinion writing, outlining the major skills opinion and argument writers need in order to write in this genre and the standards’ grade level expectations, followed by what this all means for instruction.

CHAPTER NINE - The CCSS and Composing Informational Texts
A look at the CCSS’s call for writing informational texts, outlining the major skills information writers need in order to write in this genre and the cross-curricular mandate of the standards, followed by what this all means for instruction.


CHAPTER TEN - Overview of the Speaking and Listening and of the Language Standards: What Do They Say and What Does This Mean for Us?
A nuts and bolts look at the speaking and listening and the language standards, highlighting what the standards do and don’t emphasize, followed by implications for implementation.

CHAPTER ELEVEN CCSS - Aligned Assessments Fuel Whole School Reform
A culminating chapter that synthesizes the most important aspects of the standards, focusing especially on how the CCSS can be an impetus for whole school reform, moving all students, in every classroom, to become better readers and writers.


In Depth

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Because of a production error, Pathways to the Common Core contains an misprint that alters the meaning of the text.  On page 26 the sentence "Louise Rosenblatt, Peter Johnston, many reading researchers, and we posit that reading, like any activity, is never subjective" should instead read " Louise Rosenblatt, Peter Johnston, many reading researchers, and we posit that reading, like any activity, is always subjective."  We apologize for this error, and will correct it for future printings.

For a copy of the updated page please click here.

From educators like you…

I love Pathways to the Common Core! The way it explains how the standards work will correct many misconceptions and go a long way toward changing literacy instruction for the better, a primary intent of the standards. It will help people know how to read the standards, and will help teachers see how they already address this new view of comprehension and what more they need to do. This book is an amazing reference for any teacher working to accelerate student achievement, and it is a must-read for those facing the challenge levels of the Common Core State Standards.
Sally Hampton, member of the writing team for the Common Core ELA standards and member of the Pearson Foundation curriculum design team

With piercing insights, Calkins, Ehrenworth, and Lehman dive deep into the CCSS to debunk myths, extract meaning, and provide needed guidance for each and every standard. Pathways to the Common Core is a necessity for the principal, curriculum leader, professional developer, and teacher seeking a thorough analysis of the standards from which to launch an informed approach to this critical initiative.
Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs, author, consultant, and director of the Curriculum 21 Project

Teachers across the country yearn for a road map to navigate the Common Core State Standards. Search no more. Pathways to the Common Core is the CCSS GPS. The authors do a thorough, extensive analysis of every aspect of the ELA CCSS. Pathways charts a course for effective, thoughtful teaching and top-notch student learning. I was blown away by this smart, artful, enthralling book.
Stephanie Harvey, educator and co-author of the Comprehension Toolkit series

While acknowledging the ambivalence swirling around the Common Core State Standards,Pathways to the Common Core takes a proactive stance, encouraging us to scrutinize the standards carefully and accept the challenge to raise expectations for all children’s literacy learning. It reminds us that it is up to schools and districts to decide how to implement the standards and choose our own way forward.
Ellin Keene, consultant and author of Talk About Understanding

I began reading Pathways to the Common Core in my favorite chair, music playing, dinner cooking on the stove. “I’ll just read a couple of chapters,” I thought. I finished the book hours later, sitting at my desk, a legal pad filled with notes of all I had learned, and hungry for conversation with colleagues (and for dinner that had long-ago burned). Pathways to the Common Core sets you on a path for thinking more deeply about the standards, for teaching more inventively with the standards, and for helping students achieve the goals of the standards.
Kylene Beers, consultant and author of When Kids Can’t Read

The success of the Common Core State Standards will depend largely on how teachers implement them and whether they are able to resist narrow interpretations that could lead to increased failure rates and achievement gaps. In the hands of informed teachers the standards could promote deeper thinking and higher classroom performance. Read Pathways to the Common Core and be informed.
Tom Corcoran, Co-director of CPRE, Teachers College

The Common Core State Standards are here and, as with any new initiative, there are the inevitable questions and concerns, debate and discontent. Pathways to the Common Core does not take sides; rather, the authors acknowledge the range of opinions swarming around the CCSS and wisely focus their energy on making sense of the standards. They provide a clear examination of what isand isn’t stated and then invite us to seize this opportunity to reflect on our practice and to become “co-constructors of the future of instruction and curriculum.” Let’s take up that challenge.
Lester L. Laminack, author, educator, consultant

Calkins, Ehrenworth, and Lehman have taken up the challenge of the Common Core standards in a most valuable way. Pathways to the Common Core provides a context for teachers and administrators to advance productive instructional strategies while offering the critical language and logic needed to stand up to unfortunate interpretations and nonsense.
Peter Johnston, Professor, The University at Albany

Pathways to the Common Core invites teachers and principals to welcome the Common Core standards and take them seriously, while recognizing them as a substantial challenge to business as usual. It offers wise advice on how to move ahead, building on strength and engaging the entire school community in a joint effort of continuous improvement. The authors know no one yet has all the answers for reaching such ambitious goals, and suggest deep suspicion of anyone who claims otherwise. It is must reading for responsible educators, and it wouldn't hurt if policymakers took a look as well.
Fritz Mosher, Senior Research Consultant, Consortium for Policy Research in Education and the Center for Continuous Instructional Improvement

I love it when I sit down to view a table of contents and end up reading the whole book. Pathways to the Common Core is the most useful unpacking of the Common Core State Standards available to date. Lucy, Mary, and Chris help us understand what the standards emphasize and how this emphasis might lead us down different paths of instruction than we’ve taken before. With generous wisdom and experience, they help us keep one eye on rigor and the other on meaningful reading and writing.
Gretchen Owocki, Ph.D., Director, Reading and Writing Clinic, Saginaw Valley State University

Some of our most valuable resources in supporting a child’s journey toward college and career readiness are the teachers who propel that journey. If the standards specify what every child needs to know and be able to do to be college or career ready, then Pathways to the Common Corespecifies what every educator needs to know and be able to do to implement the ELA standards effectively.
Meghan Berry, CPS, K–5 Writing Content Lead, Office of Reading and Language Arts, Chicago

While the standards may be daunting and technical, I am inspired by the way Pathways to the Common Core eases the reader through the concerns we all feel and supports us as we come together to take an honest look at our instructional practices and create systems that will accelerate student achievement. This book is encouraging and supportive; I feel prepared to roll up my sleeves and get to work alongside my staff.
Liz Tetreault, Principal, Port Salerno Elementary School, FL

Combining research, experience, and common sense, Pathways to the Common Core is a GPS providing step-by-step navigation through the new Common Core standards. It is a must-read for teachers, administrators, and instructional leaders looking to effectively implement the standards.
Dr. Tom Bulla, Director of Elementary Education, Union County Public Schools, North Carolina

Pathways to the Common Core is a road map for school leaders and teachers looking to navigate the bends and twists encountered in implementing the Common Core State Standards. It is the perfect blend of instructional theory and classroom practice. This book has already become my most important resource.
Christine Capaci, Principal, West Windsor–Plainsboro Regional School District, Village School, New Jersey

If after reading, rereading, and discussing the CCSS you continue to grapple with how they change or support current practices in your district, school, or classroom, read Pathways to the Common Core. Follow Lucy, Mary, and Christopher’s critical examination of the standards and you will be empowered to approach curricular alignment with richer perspective, clearer purpose, and greater confidence.
Rochelle DeMuccio, Coordinator ELA and Reading, Half Hollow Hills Schools, New York

At last—a book that inspires educators to raise their sights above the politics of the Common Core and focus instead on the unprecedented opportunity these new standards create. Loaded with practical examples, Pathways to the Common Core provides detailed explanations of the standards and thoughtful considerations for implementation. It will propel educators toward the rigorous, ambitious teaching that can truly accelerate student achievement.
Dr. Erin McGurk, Director of Educational Services, Ellington Public Schools, Connecticut

Lucy, Mary, and Christopher take us on an intellectual journey inside the Common Core State Standards, pausing to examine each standard with the eyes of teachers in real classrooms. Brilliant and accessible, Pathways to the Common Core gives a voice to our profession and invites us to reflect on the Common Core State Standards as an opportunity for collaboration and celebration.
Lydia Bellino, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Cold Spring Harbor Central School District, New York

Once again Lucy and the Reading & Writing Project blaze a trail for us all—this time as we enter the new terrain of the Common Core. Pathways to the Common Core helps teachers recognize that this work is not new; rather, it takes what we have already been doing and provides a road map for ways to make the work deeper and more rigorous.
Phyllis Harrington, Ed.D., Superintendent, Oyster Bay–East Norwich Central School District, New York

Lucy, Mary, and Chris have decrypted the CCSS. Pathways to the Common Core is a must-have addition to every educator’s library.
Vincent M. Iturralde, Principal, Tarkington School of Excellence, Chicago

Engaging and intriguing, Pathways to the Common Core reads like a novel. You won’t want to put it down.
Sheila R. Cole, Ed.D, Principal, Franklin School, New Jersey

Pathways to the Common Core is not a love letter to the CCSS; instead, it is a critical dissection of the standards focusing on what they include, what they marginalize, what is neglected, and what is ineffective. It shows what the standards look like in practice.
Terrence P. Carter, Ph.D. Curriculum & Instruction Department, Academy for Urban School Leadership, National Teachers Academy, Chicago

An invaluable guide for systemically implementing the Common Core standards, Pathways to the Common Core is a must-read for educators interested in accelerating student learning and engaging in true school reform.
Gaeton (Guy) Stella, Ph.D., Superintendent, Woodbridge School District, Connecticut

Providing substantive and practical strategies for successfully implementing the CCSS, Pathways to the Common Core will become the resource for fostering shared professional study around the Common Core.
Kelly Newman, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education, Great Neck Public Schools, New York

This provocative guide is an invaluable resource for understanding the Common Core State Standards and the pathways that can be taken to achieve its ambitious expectations. If the CCSS tell us what students are expected to know and be able to do, Pathways to the Common Coreframes the discourse and sheds light on existing disputes as it guides educational practitioners away from any interpretation that goes against the standards’ emphasis on independency and proficiency.
Davide Celoria, Ed.D., Associate Superintendent, Pacifica School District, California

I know this will be an invaluable tool for me as I move my own instruction to align with the Common Core State Standards. Thank you, Lucy, Mary, and Christopher for tackling this difficult, yet very important topic in such a user-friendly way. It will be a helpful tool for teachers, staff developers, and principals alike.
Kathy Highfield, Michigan Reading Journal

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