Riggs and the Common Core State Standards for Kindergarten

When a caller recently asked if the Riggs Institute’s lessons align with the 2010 Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Studies (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY K-5), I was tired of being unable to answer the question, and I decided to change that. Believe it or not, I had been putting off an inquiry into how we align with these standards because . . . well, because it sounded like a big project. I’d been ignoring my need to study the CCSS and their appendices (especially Appendix A) for a long time, because I knew it would be a lot of work. But I could ignore it no longer. Not knowing was driving me crazy. So . . . I've spent the last few weeks studying the standards, beginning with the section on foundational skills, and I've been comparing them to what we explicitely teach.

Since so many of our parents and teachers begin teaching the Riggs curriculum in kindergarten, I decided to begin with a good look at our first lessons. Since I knew that these first eighty lessons (a year of instruction for K students) were also regularly reviewed (or taught for the first time) at the beginning of first grade, and since I also knew that many teachers used these same Riggs lessons to quickly teach foundational skills to older children who are struggling, I wanted to find out how these eighty lessons align with the CCSS. Since I wanted to be able to share that information with my caller--and with you--that's where I started.

What would a student know and be able to do after the first eighty Riggs lessons, I wondered, and how would that knoweldge and ability align with the CCSS.ELA-LITERACY expectations for graduating kindergarten students? I needed details, and I needed all of them, and I needed them to be organized. So I did what any good Riggs students would do: I put myself in the shoes of a Level I Riggs student, and I built myself a Riggs Reference Notebook to illustrate the key concepts that were taught at that level, making word lists and charts for each of the lessons.

As I worked my way carefully through the instructions for each Riggs lesson, I kept one eye on the standards and took notes. Being a Riggs kindergarten student--doing the work by creating a visible written record of the penmanship skills, English spelling patterns, syllables, words, grammar concepts, and writing conventions that are practiced and mastered in this first year of instruction--was time-consuming, and eye-opening, to say the least. By the time I had finished, I was in awe of Myrna McCulloch and this well-written program all over again, and I was extremely grateful for them. Although I have been a teacher for over twenty years and have used this curriculum to teach classrooms full of kindergarten students, and although I am very familiar with this teaching method and have taught it to thousands of teachers, I never stop being impressed by the huge amount of real learning that takes place in the first eighty Riggs lessons. I'm proud to be a teacher of this method, to say the least. I know I probably shouldn't be, but I am, and I'm happy to be able to show you how and why our kindergarten students meet or exceed every grade-level Foundational Skill in the Common Core State Standards for ELA-LITERACY. So let’s get started.

Here are the CCSS Foundational Skills [RF] for kindergarten-level readers, along with my notes on how the Riggs Institute’s curriculum aligns with each of the itemized skills. 

Print Concepts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.1

Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.1.A

Follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page.

Beginning in Lesson 20, Riggs students write and read words from left to right. Beginning in Lesson 37, Riggs students write and read sentences from left to right. Beginning in Lesson 46, Riggs students read books (emergent-reader texts) from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.1.B

Recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters.

Beginning in Lesson 20, Riggs students write and read words, sound-by-sound and letter-by-letter, matching spoken phonemes to written graphemes.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.1.C

Understand that words are separated by spaces in print.

Beginning in Lesson 36, Riggs students write correctly-spelled sentences with spaces between words.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.1.D

Recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet.

By the end of Lesson 32, Riggs students have learned to write and read all of the upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet. They can not only recognize and name them, but they can also tell you their most common powers. Riggs students begin their studies by learning the most common phoneme-grapheme correspondences for each of the lowercase letters (Lessons 1-8). (See Figures 8 and 9 on pages 17 and 18 of Appendix A

Phonological Awareness:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.2

Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.2.A

Recognize and produce rhyming words.

By Lesson 36, Riggs students are regularly writing, reading, and reciting rhyming words.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.2.B

Count, pronounce, blend, and segment syllables in spoken words.

Beginning in Lesson 20, Riggs students regularly count, pronounce, blend, and segment syllables in spoken (and written) words. At the kindergarten level, three new words are introduce per day, and each of them are analyzed in this way.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.2.C

Blend and segment onsets and rimes of single-syllable spoken words.

Beginning in Lesson 10, Riggs kindergarten students segments onsets and rimes of single-syllable spoken words in classic nursery rhymes and other poetry. Beginning in Lesson 20, Riggs students blend and segment onsets and rimes of single-syllable written words in daily spelling and reading activities.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.2.D

Isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme (consonant-vowel-consonant, or CVC) words.1 (This does not include CVCs ending with /l/, /r/, or /x/.)

Beginning in Lesson 20, Riggs students isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme (CVC) words, and they produce these same sounds after writing the correct spelling pattern (grapheme) for each sound. By Lesson 80, they have done this for over 350 words in daily spelling and reading activities.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.2.E

Add or substitute individual sounds (phonemes) in simple, one-syllable words to make new words.

Beginning in Lesson 10, Riggs students add or substitute individual sounds (phonemes) in simple, one-syllable words to make new words, orally and in writing.

Phonics and Word Recognition:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.3

Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.3.A

Demonstrate basic knowledge of one-to-one letter-sound correspondences by producing the primary sound or many of the most frequent sounds for each consonant.

Beginning in Lesson 8, Riggs students regularly and consistently produce all of the most frequent sounds for each consonant. (See figure 8 on page 17 in CCSS Appendix A)

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.3.B

Associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels.

Beginning in Lesson 8, Riggs students associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels. (See Figure 9 on page 18 of CCSS Appendix A)

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.3.C

Read common high-frequency words by sight (e.g., the, of, to, you, she, my, is, are, do,does).

Beginning in Lesson 20, Riggs students spell and read at least three new common high-frequency words each day. By the end of Lesson 80, they have at least 350 common high-frequency words in their Reference Notebooks, all of which they have learned to read by sight during daily spelling and reading lessons.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.3.D

Distinguish between similarly spelled words by identifying the sounds of the letters that differ.

Beginning in Lesson 24, Riggs students distinguish between similarly spelled words by identifying the sounds of the letters that differ.

Fluency:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.4

Read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding.

Beginning in Lesson 46, Riggs students read emergent-reader texts (like Hop on Pop, Green Eggs and Ham, Are You My Mother? and Go, Dog, Go) independently, with purpose and understanding.

Reading Standard 10 says, "Children at the kindergarten and grade 1 levels should be expected to read texts independently that have been specifically written to correlate to their reading level and word knowledge," supplemented with "books to read a-long with a teacher that are read aloud to students to build knowledge and cultivate joy in reading.  

Beginning in Lesson 36, Riggs students read sentences independently that have been specifically written (by them) to correlate to their reading level and word knowledge. 

CCSS-ELA-LITERACY Reading, Writing, and Language Standards

Met by the End of Riggs Lesson 80 

Reading Standards: Foundational Skills (K-5)
RF.K.1
RF.K.2
RF.K.3
RF.K.4
RF.1.1
RF.1.2
RF.1.3
 
Language Standards K-5
L.K.1
L.K.2
(Language Standard 3 begins in grade 2)
L.K.4
L.K.5
L.K.6
L.1.1
L.1.4
 
Reading Standards for Literature K-5
RL.K.1
RL.K.2
RL.K.3
RL.K.4
RL.K.5
RL.K.6
RL.K.7
(Reading Standard 8 is not applicable to literature)
RL.K.9
RL.K.10
 
Reading Standards for Informational Text K-5
RI.K.1
RI.K.2
RI.K.3
RI.K.4
RI.K.5
RI.K.6
RI.K.7
RI.K.8
RI.K.9
RI.K.10
RI.1.10
 
Writing Standards K-5 (see details below)
W.K.1
W.K.2
W.K.3
W.K.4
W.K.5
W.K.6
W.K.7
W.K.8
 

Writing Standards K-5

Text Types and Purposes:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.1

Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the topic or the name of the book they are writing about and state an opinion or preference about the topic or book (e.g., My favorite book is...).

Beginning in Lesson 36, Riggs students write sentences--from dictation and independently--about grade-level texts and topics of a teacher’s choosing.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.2

Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.

Beginning in Lesson 36, Riggs students write and read correctly-spelled sentences--from dictation and independently--that have been specifically written to correlate to their reading level and word knowledge. They write about grade-level texts and topics of a teacher’s choosing. Beginning in Lesson 77, Riggs students write paragraphs about grade-level texts and topics of a teacher’s choosing.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.3

Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.

Beginning in Lesson 36, Riggs students write sentences about grade-level topics and texts of a teacher’s choosing. Beginning in Lesson 77, Riggs students write paragraphs about grade-level texts and topics of a teacher’s choosing.

Production and Distribution of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.4

(W.K.4 begins in grade 3)

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.5

With guidance and support from adults, respond to questions and suggestions from peers and add details to strengthen writing as needed.

Beginning in Lesson 36, Riggs students write original sentences which are edited (with guidance and support from adults), re-written, and read aloud to the class. They write at least three sentences per day, answering questions and getting feedback from peers and adults.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.6

With guidance and support from adults, explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.7

Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of books by a favorite author and express opinions about them).

Beginning in Lesson 36, Riggs students write sentences about grade-level texts and topics of a teacher’s choosing. Beginning in Lesson 77, Riggs students write and read paragraphs about grade-level texts and topics of a teacher’s choosing.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.8

With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

Beginning in Lesson 36, Riggs students write sentences about grade-level texts and topics of a teacher’s choosing. Beginning in Lesson 77, Riggs students write and read paragraphs about grade-level texts and topics of a teacher’s choosing.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.9

(W.K.9 begins in grade 4)

Range of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.10

(W.K.10 begins in grade 3)

 

In my next post, we'll talk about how the Riggs Institute's curriculum enables first-grade students to meet or exceed the Common Core State Standards for their grade level by the end of Lesson 160.

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