While the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) create strong academic goals, they also offer rich opportunities for building supports to help teachers and students meet such rigorous targets. The LDC Design System creates a support solution based on a set of core principles. None of the eight core principles are surprising, but together they establish a unique approach to literacy instruction, with classic underpinnings.
LDC aligns with the CCRS. The LDC Design System's innovative literacy instruction is a way for teachers to put “legs” on the CCRS. The CCRS are “hardwired” into the task templates to ensure students are given an assignment with clear expectations for reading and writing and are taught the literacy skills necessary to complete the assignment.
“The new standards provide a platform for innovation, a structure that can support creative strategies for teaching core content in math and literacy.”
Phillips, "Tying together the common core of standards, instruction, and assessments,” 2010, p. 37
LDC distributes responsibility for reading and writing. The intent of LDC is to foster the distribution of reading and writing instruction. It recognizes the primary role of ELA but is intentionally flexible so that teachers in the core subjects (and other subject areas) can add their content standards and curriculum “on top” of their literacy instruction. All teachers—not just ELA teachers—are supported in teaching reading and writing.
“The Standards insist that instruction in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language be a shared responsibility within the school.”
Common Core State Standards, 2010
LDC makes tasks central. LDC student tasks set clear goals. They are “standards in action.” They are the beginning point of the LDC Design System, and their alignment with CCRS answers parents' question: Why is my child doing this type of work?
“The real accountability system is in the tasks that students are asked to do…[T]he task predicts performance.”
City, Instructional rounds in education, 2009
LDC connects reading and writing instruction. As the authors point out, both reading and writing are functional skills and can be combined for specific goals such as learning new ideas presented in a text. Also, they draw upon common knowledge and cognitive processes. Improving skills in one should improve skills in the other. All LDC task templates connect reading and writing.
“One often-overlooked tool for improving students’ reading, as well as their learning from text, is writing.”
Graham & Hebert, Writing to read, 2010
LDC uses back mapping. The LDC Design System requires teachers to identify the specific literacy skills students need to acquire if they are to succeed on a task. Back mapping from the larger task allows teachers to plan deliberate instruction for each of those needed skills.
“Standards-based instruction targets the quality of performance we want from students. With the quality of the performance expected of students clearly in mind, teachers plan and conduct lessons aimed at teaching students how to achieve these specific characteristics.”
The standards-based instructional planning process, WestEd, 2002
LDC fosters a responsive system that encourages teachers to adjust their instruction. They can use the system to “spiral” the instruction of literacy skills and content or to “scaffold” in response to the formative information they gather on student performance from LDC mini-tasks. This allows teachers to provide the right level of work at the right time for classes, groups of students, or individual students. Teachers can use the formative student data generated from the framework to move students to more challenging levels.
“Responsive secondary teachers respond to students as individuals with unique needs.”
Murphy, The productive high school: creating personalized academic communities, 2001
LDC encourages local choice. With a balanced focus on results as well as means, the LDC strategy embodies the philosophy of the CCRS by aligning what students should know and be able to do, but not dictating a specific curriculum or instructional program. These choices are the province of teachers, schools, districts, and states. A great advantage of the CCRS is that good practice can now be shared broadly while providing local flexibility for deciding how best to teach.
“By emphasizing required achievements, the Standards leave room for teachers, curriculum developers, and states to determine how those goals should be reached and what additional topics should be addressed.”
Common Core State Standards, 2010
LDC strives to be teacher-friendly. If teachers, schools, districts, and states are to succeed at teaching students to meet proficiency on the CCRS, they need solutions that are doable. Elegant solutions save time; they do not add to the already heavy daily work of teaching. Not only do teachers deserve such tools, their expertise should be used to design and test them. LDC was established for both purposes.
“The sheer magnitude of the teaching task is immense.”
Judith W. Little, cited in Murphy, The productive high school : creating personalized academic communities, 2001
- Phillips, V. W. (2010, February 1). Tying Together the Common Core of Standards, Instruction, and Assessments: Fewer, Clearer, Higher Standards Will Point the United States in the Right Direction for Developing an Education System That Prepares High School Graduates Who Are College-Ready. Phi Delta Kappan, 91, 37-42.
- City, E. A. (2009). Instructional rounds in education: a network approach to improving teaching and learning. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Education Press.
- Graham, S., and Hebert, M. A. (2010). Writing to read: Evidence for how writing can improve reading. A Carnegie Corporation Time to Act Report. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.
- Western Assessment Collaborative at WestEd (2002). The standards-based instructional planning process. PDF. Retrieved from https://www.calstate.edu/CAPP/projects/Module_2.pdf
- Murphy, J. (2001). The productive high school : creating personalized academic communities. Joseph Murphy ... [et al.]. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin Press.