Shuksan Middle School, Bellingham, Wash.
2014 Washington State Teacher of the Year
Javier walked into my room with his English assignment and said, “I’m confused. I am supposed to write a letter to my teacher about the book I am reading. The directions say to introduce my book to her first.” Then Javier pulls his book out of his backpack and politely gestures with his hand from the book to me. “Mrs. Brown, this is my book. Book, this is Mrs. Brown.” As a smile spreads across my face, Javier exclaims, “Is that right?” He knew from my laugh that we would once again dive into a discussion about the wonderful challenges of the English language. Last week he struggled with the word prove in math. The week before, justify in science. Next week it might be identify, summarize, critique, evaluate, and/or argue.
In the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), we have an opportunity. An opportunity to define what it means to be a literate person in the 21st century. An opportunity for students to not only develop content knowledge, but also how to use language effectively. An opportunity for all students, even those like Javier who are new to English, to experience high-quality language instruction and participate fully in the classroom experience.