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Self-Regulation and the Common Core: Application to ELA Standards

reviewed by Cristian Aquino-Sterling & Tricia Gallagher-Geursten - December 13, 2016

coverTitle: Self-Regulation and the Common Core: Application to ELA Standards
Author(s): Marie C. White & Maria K. DiBenedetto
Publisher: Routledge, New York
ISBN: 0415714206, Pages: 310, Year: 2015
Search for book at Amazon.com

In Self-Regulation and the Common Core: Application to ELA Standards, Marie C. White and Maria K. DiBenedetto draw on the theory of self-regulated learning (SRL) to propose an integrated, dynamic, and fluid framework for facilitating the development of English language arts (ELA) competencies in K12 classrooms. For these authors,

[t]he benefits of exploring both SRL and the Common Core standards is that SRL provides a toolkit for teachers to help their students become motivated to learn, to engage in productive performance strategies, to self-reflect upon the feedback they receive, and to use this feedback to guide future efforts and performance. (p. 7)

In addition, the framework is intended so teachers can empower their students to become independent agents of their own learning and in turn increase the efficacy to transfer and adapt the skills they have obtained to life events beyond the classroom (p. 7). Overall, the book can be characterized as a well-intentioned effort to help facilitate the implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and ELA development within a context where individual states, local school districts, and schools are responsible for designing relevant curriculum and effective instructional approaches to meet CCSS demands.

The text is divided into four main sections. Part One, Linking the Common Core and Self-Regulation, is comprised of three well-written chapters that set the conceptual/theoretical stage linking SRL to CCSS. In Chapter One, the authors align SRL and CCSS by indicating that, [CCSS] encourage students to seek help, to practice accurate self-monitoring, and to apply metacognitive skills within various learning contexts, all of which are self-regulatory strategies that encourage proactive learning and independent evaluation (p. 6). Chapter Two defines SRL from a sociocognitive theory perspective, provides a substantive description of the four levels of SRL development (e.g., observation, emulation, self-control, and self-regulated), and describes the three phases at each level students must undergo to become competent, independent, and self-regulated learners (e.g., forethought, performance, and self-reflection). In addition, the authors make a case for the important role teachers play in modeling the processes characterizing the various levels and phases constituting the model for their students. In Chapter Three, the authors describe what a self-regulated teacher and student know and do. They argue that SRL diminishes the differences in personal talent and skill (p. 17) among students while increasing motivation with the ultimate goal of both teacher and student taking charge of their learning. This overarching goal is attained through strategies such as setting goals, monitoring self-efficacy, making adjustments to successfully complete a task, and applying feedback from peers and teachers.

Part Two, Elementary School, consists of three chapters that offer an extensive outline of how to teach a specific self-regulation strategy in English language arts for a grade band. Each chapter guides readers through the four levels of self-regulated learning. This leads the teacher, then the students, through the three phases of forethought, performance, and self-reflection for each level. In Chapter Four, the Kindergarten and the first grade objective is help-seeking behavior when faced with reading a short text. After reviewing research that identifies young students as benefitting from learning when and how to ask for help, the remainder of the chapter takes the reader through 25 sessions. These include teacher modeling, student observation of the teacher, and self-monitoring exercises with cartoon faces that express, for example, I am not sure who can help me. Chapter Five follows a similar format with 32 sessions to teach second and third graders how to set goals, plan, and self-monitor when writing a paragraph comparing two famous Americans utilizing two nonfiction texts. Students are again directed to rate their teachers self-efficacy and their own as they repeatedly practice setting goals, planning with a graphic organizer, and reading and writing from the two sources. In Chapter Six, the focus shifts from reading and writing to building the academic language of fourth and fifth graders. Research on English language learners is first mentioned and methods are identified to build Tier 2 vocabulary (e.g., common academic words). The teacher and student reflect on goal setting, self-efficacy, and the use of strategies (e.g., context clues and morpheme clues) to understand stranger words in a short text over 27 sessions (p. 118).

Part Three, Middle School, is dedicated to the middle school years. The authors begin Chapter Seven by acknowledging that, [t]ransitioning into the middle grades is a major educational concern for teachers and parents of young adolescents (p. 157) and that, [o]ften, this period is accompanied by a general deterioration in academic performance, motivation, self-perceptions of ability, and relationships with peers and teachers (p. 157). In this chapter, the authors address how the self-regulated writer reads like a writer. White and DiBenedetto also provide a total of 45 sessions where teacher and students engage in the practice of writing as self-regulated and self-monitoring actors able to implement "self-regulatory strategies of self-instruction, self-evaluation, and help-seeking" in the writing process (p. 160). An interesting subsection of this chapter indicates how the world-renowned Writers Workshop can be transformed through SRL in a practical manner.

The final section, Part Four, High School, is dedicated to the secondary school years. In Chapter Eight, White and DiBenedetto address the connections between the dimensions of self-regulation and Common Core standards for grades 912. They include a table that articulates Common Core expectations for writing and research skills and relate these to the behavioral dimensions of self-regulation (pp. 212213). The authors frame the need for SRL by indicating that, [a]s students transition from middle school to high school, and then from high school to college, many of them struggle to deal with a learning environment that calls for increased independence and greater self-management (p. 214). In continuing to articulate how the integrated model can facilitate the acquisition of writing and research skills, in Chapter Nine (focused on ninth and tenth grades) the authors present the study log as a strategy to help students monitor their self-efficacy, time management, physical environment, and distractors while they are working on an assignment to generate a research question for an upcoming [research] project (p. 221). The authors again provide a series of teacher-student sample lessons (a total of 12) to help them learn how to self-regulate behaviors, thoughts, feelings, and actions found to be critical to successfully completing short- and long-term projects (p. 218). This is also the focus of the final chapter that focuses on the eleventh and twelfth grades where students are employing the integrated model to synthesize resources as they begin their research papers.

The practices described in Self-Regulation and the Common Core reinscribe a trend in curricular reform efforts that intend to level the playing field without concern for who is on the field. Color-blind pedagogy, which SRL intends to be, is an example of irresponsible curricular reforms that seek to erase who walks into the classroom door (Valenzuela, 1999). In their neutral positionality, the authors avoid the rich diversity in classrooms as they subject imaginary students to 30 or more narrow and prescriptive lessons. For example, they self-regulate as they write a paragraph or think about when they should ask someone for help.

The prescriptive stages and phases of self-regulated learning that White and DiBenedetto describe tightly parallel Foucaults disciplinary techniques rendering human beings "objectified, subdued, docile, and fixed in their position in society, and, are unable to collaborate unless this is done within [the school's] prescriptions and norms" (Foucault, 1979, p. 203 in Jardine, 2005, p. 58). Foucault (1979) described how schools control students through prescriptive (e.g., SRL's stages) and repetitive practices (e.g., SRL's 3 phases that a student must repeat 4 times in each lesson) with an observer who supervises and examines each movement (e.g., the teacher's monitoring of self-regulation). This is done to create students who comply with societal norms on their own (e.g., SRLs ultimate goal of self-regulation without outside supervision) (Jardine, 2005).

The authors contention that SRL diminishes the differences in personal talent and skill (p. 17) among students with the ultimate goal of independent self-regulation of learning is troubling not only because the goal assumes all students should learn in the same way and ignores diversity of personal talent and skill, but is also short-sighted given our wildly globalizing society (p. 17). We question the desirability of an independent learner and posit educators and their pedagogy should support learners in growing interdependence. By utilizing many languages, language varieties, and modalities, and drawing upon multiple sources of knowledge throughout their local and international communities to solve problems, we can promote democratic learning and communication across boundaries (Banks, 2012; García & Wei, 2014).


Banks, J. A. (2012). Ethnic studies, citizenship education, and the public good. Intercultural Education, 23(6), 467473.

Foucault, M. (1979). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. New York, NY: Vintage Books.

García, O., & Wei, L. (2014). Translanguaging: Language, bilingualism, and education. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Jardine, G. M. (2005). Foucault and education. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Valenzuela, A. (1999). Subtractive schooling: U.S.-Mexican youth and the politics of caring. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: December 13, 2016
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 21761, Date Accessed: 10/20/2021 3:47:08 AM

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About the Author
  • Cristian Aquino-Sterling
    San Diego State University
    E-mail Author
    CRISTIAN AQUINO-STERLING is a teacher educator and educational researcher in the School of Teacher Education at San Diego State University. His research is focused on the assessment and development of "Pedagogical Language Competencies" (Aquino-Sterling, 2016) in the preparation of K-12 bilingual teachers. His works have been published in Bilingual Research Journal; International Journal of Language and Linguistics; International Multilingual Research Journal; International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism; Multicultural Perspectives, Reading in a Foreign Language, and Voices from the Middle. During Spring 2016, Dr. Aquino-Sterling served as a Research Fellow in the Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC) of the Graduate Center, City University of New York.
  • Tricia Gallagher-Geursten
    Teachers College, Columbia University
    E-mail Author
    TRICIA GALLAGHER-GEURSTEN received her doctoral degree in Curriculum and Teaching from Columbia University’s Teachers College. She was a bilingual public elementary school teacher and a migrant education teacher in California. Tricia has supervised and mentored student teachers in California, New York, and Utah. As a teacher educator, Tricia has taught both preservice and inservice teachers methods and theory for teaching social studies, bilingual reading, bilingual science, integrated curriculum, English as a Second Language, and multicultural foundations. Her works have been published in The Journal of Curriculum Theorizing and Multicultural Perspectives. Her book, (Un)Knowing Diversity: Researching Narratives of Neocolonial Classrooms through Youth’s Testimonios was published by Peter Lang in 2012. Tricia is currently engaged in research about the experiences of university international students in multicultural education courses.
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