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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.