Archives for category: Core knowledge

In a learner-centered classroom, 7th graders “focus” on adjectives.


In a teacher-centered classroom, 7th graders learn the grammar of English composition:

7 CORE KNOWLEDGE – Gr7 – CKFSequence_Rev-4

And see:
6th grade English at Brearley
Teacher-centered v. student-centered

7th grade in a learner-centered school.

This is what constructivism looks like. Students study themselves, in groups; the teacher is a guide on the side.


Compare to 6th grade at Brearley, where students grapple with an “intellectually rigorous and coherent literature curriculum”:

Grade 6

  • Folk Tales (summer reading continued into the fall): A large number are read and a few are selected for class discussion. They include: “The Valiant Chattee-Maker” (Indian), “The Young Head of the Family” (Chinese), and “The Wonderful Tar-Baby” (African-American).
  • Ballads: Five Scottish ballads—“Sir Patrick Spens,” “Edward, Edward,” “Mary Hamilton,” “The Twa Corbies,” and “Barbra Allen,” the last two having available English counterparts.
  • Book of Genesis, King James Version, with some abridgement.
  • Greek mythology, based on selections from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, The Iliad, and The Homeric Hymns.
  • The Odyssey

Or compare our 7th-grade classrooms to 7th grade in Core Knowledge.

If administrators and board members listened to parents and taxpayers, this is the education IUFSD children could have: CORE KNOWLEDGE – Gr7 – CKFSequence_Rev-4

And see:
6th grade English at Brearley
Teacher-centered v. learner-centered

From the Core Knowledge sequence for Grade 8:

Note: The poems listed here constitute a selected core of poetry for this grade. You are encouraged to expose students to more poetry, old and new, and to have students write their own poems. Students should examine some poems in detail, discussing what the poems mean as well as asking questions about the poet’s use of language.

  • Buffalo Bill’s (e.e. cummings)
  • Chicago (Carl Sandburg)
  • Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night (Dylan Thomas)
  • How do I love thee? (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
  • How They Brought the Good News From Ghent to Aix (Robert Browning)
  • I dwell in possibility; Apparently with no surprise (Emily Dickinson)
  • The Lake Isle of Innisfree (William B. Yeats)
  • Lucy Gray (or Solitude); My Heart Leaps Up (William Wordsworth) Mending Wall; The Gift Outright (Robert Frost)
  • Mr. Flood’s Party (Edward Arlington Robinson)
  • Polonius’s speech from Hamlet, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be…” (William Shakespeare)
  • Ozymandias (Percy Bysshe Shelley)
  • Sonnet 18, “Shall I compare thee. . .” (William Shakespeare) Spring and Fall (Gerald Manley Hopkins)
  • A Supermarket in California (Allen Ginsberg) Theme for English B (Langston Hughes)
  • We Real Cool (Gwendolyn Brooks)


  • Review:
  • Meter
  • Iamb
  • Rhyme scheme
  • Free verse
  • Couplet
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Alliteration
  • Assonance
  • Review:
  • Forms:
  • Ballad
  • Sonnet
  • Lyric
  • Narrative
  • Limerick
  • Haiku stanzas and refrains
  • Types of rhyme:
  • End
  • Internal
  • Slant
  • Eye
  • Metaphor and simile, including extended and mixed metaphors
  • Imagery, symbol, personification
  • Allusion
  • Review:
  • Forms: ballad, sonnet, lyric, narrative, limerick, haiku
  • Stanzas and refrains
  • Types of rhyme: end, internal, slant, eye
  • Metaphor and simile
  • Extended and mixed metaphors
  • Imagery, symbol, personification

Fiction, Nonfiction, and Drama

  • “The Bet” (Anton Chekov)
  • “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
  • “God Sees the Truth But Waits” (Leo Tolstoy)
  • “An Honest Thief” (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
  • “The Open Boat” (Stephen Crane)


  • Animal Farm (George Orwell)
  • The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)


  • Review:
  • Plot and setting
  • Theme
  • Point of view in narration: omniscient narrator, unreliable narrator, third person limited, first person
  • Conflict: external and internal suspense and climax
  • Characterization
  • As delineated through a character’s thoughts, words, and deeds; through the narrator’s description; and through what other characters say
  • Flat and round; static and dynamic motivation
  • Protagonist and antagonist
  • Tone and diction


  • “Ask not what your country can do for you” (John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address)
  • “I have a dream”; “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
  • “Death of a Pig” (E. B. White)
  • “The Marginal World” (Rachel Carson)

Note: See also History 8: The Kennedy Years, re J. F. Kennedy; The Civil Rights Movement, re M. L. King, Jr.; and, Emergence of Environmentalism, re Rachel Carson.

  • Selections (such as chapters 2 and 16) from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)


  • Twelfth Night (William Shakespeare)


  • Review:
  • Tragedy and comedy
  • Aspects of conflict, suspense, and characterization soliloquies and asides
  • Farce and satire
  • Aspects of performance and staging
  • Actors and directors
  • Sets, costumes, props, lighting, music presence of an audience


  • Irony: verbal, situational, dramatic
  • Flashbacks and foreshadowing
  • Hyperbole, oxymoron, parody

Core Knowledge ELA (poems, stories, fables): Grade 1
Core Knowledge ELA (assigned reading & topics of study): Grade 8
The Brearley School’s English literature program, gr6-8 (part 1)


  • Hope (Langston Hughes)
  • I Know All the Sounds the Animals Make (Jack Prelutsky)
  • My Shadow (Robert Louis Stevenson)
  • The Owl and the Pussycat (Edward Lear)
  • The Pasture (Robert Frost)
  • The Purple Cow (Gelett Burgess)
  • Rope Rhyme (Eloise Greenfield)
  • Sing a Song of People (Lois Lenski)
  • Solomon Grundy (traditional)
  • The Swing (Robert Louis Stevenson)
  • Table Manners [also known as “The Goops”] (Gelett Burgess)
  • Thanksgiving Day [“Over the river and through the wood”] (Lydia Maria Child)


  • The Boy at the Dike (folktale from Holland)
  • The Frog Prince
  • Hansel and Gretel
  • selections from The House at Pooh Corner (A. A.Milne)
  • How Anansi Got Stories from the Sky God (folktale from West Africa)
  • It Could Always Be Worse (Yiddish folktale)
  • Jack and the Beanstalk
  • The Knee-High Man (African-American folktale)
  • Medio Pollito (Hispanic folktale)
  • The Pied Piper of Hamelin
  • Pinocchio
  • The Princess and the Pea
  • Puss-in-Boots
  • Rapunzel
  • Rumpelstiltskin
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Beatrix Potter)
  • Tales of Br’er Rabbit (recommended tales: Br’er Rabbit Gets Br’er Fox’s Dinner; Br’er Rabbit Tricks Br’er Bear; Br’er Rabbit and the Tar Baby)
  • Why the Owl Has Big Eyes (Native American legend)


  • The Boy Who Cried Wolf
  • The Dog in the Manger
  • The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
  • The Maid and the Milk Pail
  • The Fox and the Grapes
  • The Goose and the Golden Eggs

Teachers: To give students a sense that people all around the world tell certain stories that, while they differ in details, have much in common, introduce students to similar folktales from different lands, such as the following:
Lon Po Po (China) and Little Red Riding Hood
Issun Boshi, or One-Inch Boy (Japan); Tom Thumb (England); Thumbelina (by the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen); Little Finger of the Watermelon Patch (Vietnam)
Some of the many variations on the Cinderella story (from Europe, Africa, China, Vietnam, Egypt, Korea, etc.)

Source: Core Knowledge | Grade 1 | Scope and sequence

Core Knowledge ELA (poems, stories, fables): Grade 1
Core Knowledge ELA (assigned reading & topics of study): Grade 8
The Brearley School’s English literature program, gr6-8 (part 1)

E.D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge Sequence is the education I thought my children would receive when we moved to Irvington. The Core Knowledge Sequence is a coherent, sequential, cumulative, content-rich K-8 education in the liberal arts disciplines, developed and vetted by disciplinary specialists.

Administrators could dramatically raise the quality of Irvington curriculum overnight by adopting the Core Knowledge sequence. E.D. Hirsch didn’t write the Common Core standards, but he is a strong supporter, and his Core Knowledge sequence meets the standards and then some.

And, of course, we would have something real to show prospective home buyers.

Here’s the Core Knowledge sequence:

As a point of comparison, here are the complete NYSED Common Core Standards:

Massachusetts state ELA standards:

State standards & reports

Robert Pondiscio on Reading Workshop (scroll down)
A New Assignment: Pick Books You Like
By MOTOKO RICH August 29, 2009

Call me E.D. Hirsch
Nonfiction Curriculum Enhanced Reading Skills, Study Finds
By Anna M. Phillips March 11, 2012

Sandra Stotsky on students choosing their own books in English class

What Kids Are Reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students
in American Schools 2012 | Renaissance Learning
What Kids Are Reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students in
..American Schools 2013 | Renaissance Learning

What do home buyers want?
Curriculum & property values
Children choosing books
E.D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge Sequence by grade
Per pupil spending