Aren’t non-fiction and informational text the same thing?
No, they are not. Informational text is factual, but that isn’t the point (or it isn’t the only point). CCSS is emphasizing the reading of literary and informational text to ensure that students are proficient with a wide variety of text. If the distinction was just fact vs. fiction, then text could be limited to narratives. Kids need to learn how to read exposition and argument as much as stories. Each of those types of text has different purposes, structures, graphic elements, text features, etc. And, that’s the point: exposing kids to all of those elements.
Isn’t close reading just highly accurate reading?
There are many good synonyms for close reading: analytical reading, critical reading, deep reading… careful reading is certainly included in each of these, but it is not a very good synonym. Close reading engages students in making sense of what a text says or implies, but it is more than this. A close reader makes logical inferences, but is aware of the inferences and recognizes the evidence and reasoning on which they are based (good readers can distinguish what they have been told from what they have assumed). Close readers don’t just get what a text says, but how it works, can evaluate the accuracy, quality, and value of the text, and compare the text with others.
My school uses Gates Foundation Units. That means that they are aligned with the Common Core, right?
While it is true that the Gates Foundation generously supported the development of the Common Core that doesn’t mean that everything that they support aligns with Common Core. Various Gates supported curricula have been appearing, and they have nothing to do with Common Core (they represent the interpretations of the common core of the individuals who got the Gates funding).
We don’t have to worry about implementing the common core because the states are dropping out?
Actually, no states have dropped out, but a few have talked about it and one (Indiana) has put it on pause to study whether to drop out. Also, Alabama has decided not to be part of either testing consortium. However, these “second thoughts” don’t have anything to do with pedagogical judgments (can we teach these effectively?), kids’ educational needs (are these appropriate for what we want for our own children?), or even the economic needs of our society (how well do students need to read, write or do math to grow our economy?). The disagreements have been about states rights and politics—this isn’t really an issue of deep political concern, but clearly some politicians hope that it will be.