Many educators have reservations about the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This article describes one 7th-grade teacher’s experience as she reconciles the Standards with the critical literacy theories of Patrick Finn (2009) and Paulo Freire (1970). The author discusses her experience deconstructing the Standards, and how she sees these Standards fit with the “powerful literacy” Finn promoted (2009, p. ix). Beginning with a look at child labor, the author creates an “Advocacy Project” that empowers students to identify opportunities for agency in their own lives. Students read and write personal essays proclaiming their passions, investigate the facts surrounding their chosen issue, and present their findings to their peers in presentations and research papers. The student-driven “Advocacy Project” creates authentic opportunities for reading, research, and writing, while simultaneously meeting the rigorous Common Core State Standards. After a year of implementation and accountability, the author finds that the Standards do not stifle instruction, and students can become advocates as well as proficient readers, writers, and speakers.
Keywords: Standards, Reading, Advocacy, Writing Workshop, Critical Literacy, Common Core, Student Engagement, Inquiry, community involvement