L.CCR.6 — that's the 6th (and last!) College and Career Readiness anchor standard within the Language strand of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for ELA/Literacy — says:
Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.
Wow — can anyone say “longest anchor standard of all time?”
Upgrading from Padawan to Superman
I apologize to non-Star Wars/comic book nerds, but this is a perfect way to simplify the L.CCR.6 anchor standard.
When Anakin Skywalker was a measly Padawan (AKA Jedi-in-training), he didn't have an independent grasp on the force. Before our students become college and career ready, they don't have an independent grasp of general academic vocabulary and the tools for dealing with unknown words.
What we want is for our students to be just about invincible in the face of unknown words; we want them to be word strong in any given domain. We want them to be vocab Superpeople. (Notice the gender equity there.)
Essentially, this standard envisions a high school graduate who knows how to gain, use, and grapple with words in any given academic or domain-specific setting.
The ability (and desire!) to acquire vocabulary
A college and career ready person is able to pick up words from conversations and reading. This can be practiced K-12, and the literate person continues to do it throughout their life. Again, I like modeling the intentional acquisition of vocabulary, I like using newly acquired words with students, and I like praising them when they exhibit the curiosity and grit necessary to grow one's lexicon.
The ability to independently dominate unknown words
Ultimately, college and career readiness is all about independence; for L.CCR.6, that means being able to handle unknown words on one's own.
May we make our students the word warriors they were meant to be. And may the force be with them.