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Books del Sur curates Latin America Spanish-language literature to support dual language curriculum.
Books del Sur curates Latin America Spanish-language literature to support dual language curriculum.
Taco dip in bowl

Common Core Reading Standards & Taco Dip

Do you use the Common Core State Standards in your state?  If so, you may already have a framework you use to think about them. On page 33 of Pathways to the Common Core published by Heinemann (2014) it states, “Some people who are close to the Common Core have likened the reading standards to a ladder, with standards 1 and 10 as the crucial struts that form the two sides of the ladder, and the other reading standards as rungs of the ladder.”  

Anchor Standards Reading Poster

I see the Common Core State Reading Standards NOT LIKE A LADDER, but rather TACO DIP. One reason is that they are written in layers or sections.

  • Standards 1-3 are about Key Ideas & Details.  
  • Standards 4-6 are about Craft & Structure.
  • Standards 7 & 9 are about Integration of Knowledge and Ideas (8 does not apply to literature).
  • Standard 10 is about Range of Reading and Text Complexity.

 Key Ideas and Detail standards are like the refried bean base. They are essential to reading comprehension just like beans are essential because of their flavor, protein, and fiber. If students don’t understand the key ideas and details of a text it makes it challenging to further enjoy the text. 

 The craft and structure of a text vary from text to text just like the next layer of a taco dip. I mean what is it? Guacamole? Sour cream? Does it matter which one is first? One recipe I read even had French dip as a layer. I mean this may be necessary depending on the book, so again we need to stay flexible around which standards are covered depending on the book. Students may need to spend more time on word level analysis while others may be ready for sentence level analysis and analyzing the author or character’s point of view.

Then there are the “toppings” of the dip. Options are shredded cheese, black olives, green onions, pico de gallo, etc. There are many possibilities just like there are for how we integrate knowledge and ideas. Which texts do you compare? What depth of comparison means the students are proficient? The learning and understanding is a bit messy and not so neatly layered at that point, but really good.

In the analogy of the ladder, one of the two struts are identified as similar to standard 10.  Standard 10 is commonly referred to as the “on grade level reading” standards. Now, this is where I really struggle with the metaphor. Simply put, I do not think that grade level or ranges of texts can be so cut and dry like a strut of a ladder. I mean seriously that is a very linear image. Literally linear. I think of reading level and text complexity as a combination of all of the layers of reading, so I would argue standard 10 is actually the dip as a whole. All of the layers and pieces together.

 Finally, I think the Common Cores State Reading Standards is like taco dip is because it’s a white person’s idea and white people make it. The common core standards were written with a monolingual paradigm; therefore, the strengths of nearly ten percent of our population* and 50 – 100% of students in dual language programs is not represented. 

image of ingredients to make taco dipHonestly, if my Chilean exchange brother, Nacho, were to make the taco dip he would add corn to it. He puts corn on everything including pizza. I don’t think I’ve ever had a taco dip with corn, but I think it would taste pretty good. And that’s exactly the thing about making anything “standard” other people’s perspectives are important and generally make things better.

In addition, the argument made for Common Core Standards is that they are broad enough that it allows for modifications that meet the needs of all learners. Which I can’t completely argue with; however, I will be critical of it. The modifications that the Common Core Standards in Español are making are written in blue. They have been working on modifications since their release and still to this day the Appendices are “under construction”. Am I blaming them nope, not at all. I’m just pointing out that the Common Core Reading Standards do not consider a multilingual perspective and the Español version is still under construction; therefore, be critical of them and be open to the ingredients changing.   

So, when I went to find a photo of the taco dip, I decided not to use one from Betty Crocker because of the whole copyright stuff.  I decided it was just as easy to go to the store and get one already made for my lunch. When I found the dip it had a layer of orange stuff that I was not interested in.  So, I decided to make my own.  This exactly what I did in the classroom whenever I was handed a lesson plan, a boxed curriculum, or whatever. I always created my own version. 

Was it more work?


Is it messy?


Was it worth it?



Because I knew my students and what they needed or liked or were allergic to or … you get my point.


image of taco dip


Recently, Mary Howard, author of Good to Great and a Literacy consultant wrote a Facebook post about RTI and reading interventions. She was responding to a tweet about the “teaching science of reading” 

I do not subscribe to the “science of reading instruction”. I do not doubt that there are strategies that work for kids. Ironically, I myself was a product of whole word instruction and am the worst speller on earth.  I have zero phonics understanding in English. My phonetic understanding comes from Spanish. However, I do not think that I would be a better reader and writer if I would have been hit over the head with phonics. I think it’s the art of combining the different pieces that make us great readers and writers.

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Esther E Hass - March 23, 2020

The common core has too much computer use. Kids have to go page by page of pre made reading , ideas, stories. It’s like a consumable book use to be. Bi lingual would have even more problems. I think using the old material units would be better and have lots of options for teachers to pick from. I think the reading groups from 50 yrs ago worked well. Supervised activities including computers, can b e going on at the same time. Kids get stuck in the computer use and it can be detrimental to some kids. Forced to do something that is not working hurts the child, and he may become a behavior problem as well. Teachers must be involved more in the learning process.

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