In this blog we explore the Common Core idea that teachers shouldn't build background knowledge to help students understand what they are reading. We offer an alternative to this commonly practiced instructional strategy.
In this post we explore three common strategies for introducing text before reading and the ways they do (or don't) align with the Common Core. These strategies have been challenged by the authors of the CCSS and we address this criticism.
"The Common Core only tells us what to teach, but doesn’t tell us how to teach."
Three traditional practices in literacy education:
1) presenting background information,
2) pre-reading strategies, such as predicting, and
3) articulating a summary of the text.
David Coleman Quotes
We lavish so much attention on these strategies in the place of reading, I would urge us to instead read.
the first escape from the text is to summarize it in advance
asking you to just read. To think of dispensing for a moment with all the apparatus we have built up before reading and plunging into reading the text. And let it be our guide into its own challenges.
Nothing could be more lethal to paying attention to the text in front of you than such a hunt and seek mission
This is a great example of how teachers are integrating writing assignments across the curriculum, helping students practice practice their oral communication skills, and helping students safely publish their work in digital forms online.
Courtesy of The Hechinger Report's HechingerEd blog.
With American schools focused on raising reading and math scores to meet accountability requirements, writing often takes a backseat.
With 45 states adopting Common Core standards that include writing and specifically grammar, some educators are examining new ways to bring grammar back into the classroom.
We know that [explicit grammar instruction] is a critical component in education said Roberta Stathis, executive director of The Teacher Writing Center, which runs the Grammar Gallery, an online resource for writing and reading instruction.
TED Talks In our louder and louder world, says sound expert Julian Treasure, "We are losing our listening." In this short, fascinating talk, Treasure shares five ways to re-tune your ears for conscious listening -- to other people and the world...
“an intense focus, across nearly every academic subject, on teaching the skills that underlie good analytical writing.”
Direct and Explicit Instruction
“The thing is, kids need a formula, at least at first, because what we are asking them to do is very difficult. So God, let’s stop acting like they should just know how to do it. Give them a formula! Later, when they understand the rules of good writing, they can figure out how to break them.”
Standards define expectations. Teachers help students meet expectations.
"traditional instruction delivered by the teachers already in classrooms may turn out to be the most powerful lever we have for improving school performance after all."
The best place to teach literacy skills is in content areas. - Dan Willingham
the emphasis on writing at New Dorp helped in knowledge and vocabulary acquisition by forcing "distributed practice" of subject matter and vocabulary, causing them to be learned more effectively by having to be written out.
Writing improves reading and vice versa. - Steve Graham
the promise of the method lies in its efficiency: killing two birds with one stone, both writing and general knowledge. The efficiency is significant only if it's an effective pedagogical device in support of cumulative knowledge building.
The key is that students can apply what they have learned.
As schools embark on the implementation of the Common Core standards, let us hope that educators keep in mind that they are just standards and that the heavy lifting, as Hirsch suggests, will be that of “defining specifically the knowledge to be learned.”
September is National Literacy Month, and what better way to celebrate and promote literacy than focusing on the tools that students own and love: their ce (Top story: Enriching literacy with cell phones?
"The common core will require that we use challenging texts and many students will struggle. Various supports, scaffolds, and motivation will be needed to allow students to read hard texts successfully."
The Common Core emphasizes close reading and text-dependent questions. So what are text-dependent questions, and how can teachers develop them?
Text-dependent questions direct students’ inquiry into the text, rather than outside of it, and can only be answered with evidence from the text.
A strong text-dependent question should invite students to interpret theme, analyze syntax and text structure, support students’ understanding of vocabulary, and analyze the effects of specific word choice.
A high-quality summative assessment will involve writing and should allow students individually to demonstrate mastery of one or more of the standards.
Text-dependent questions will specifically target (Tier 2 Vocabulary) words that might otherwise be a barrier to their comprehension.
Identify what makes the text difficult (Quantitative, Qualitative, Reader and Task)
Rather than present them randomly, teachers can sequence text-dependent questions to help students gradually unfold their understanding and perform rigorous analysis, learning to stay focused inside of the text to construct meaning.
Any good instructional planning begins and ends with standards.
Note: When you are working with text-dependent questions to establish rigorous classroom discourse and providing students with routine writing tasks to support comprehension and analysis, you are activating most of the standards for Reading, Writing, and Speaking & Listening most of the time.
Assessment: Ensure "that the culminating activity fully aligns with the text-dependent questions and focus standards that you have identified."
Sourcing documents is a key skill within the curriculum for Reading Like A Historian. Discover a way to structure a sourcing lesson for your High School History class.
What does it mean that literacy crosses all subjects? In short, this means that because we don’t read novels the same way we read science labs or the same way we read histories, all of us get to teach the different faces of literacy.
The Council of Chief State School Officers this week released a new set of guidelines that are designed to help states revise, revamp, or rewrite their English-language proficiency standards so that they align with the common core standards in English/language arts and mathematics, as well as the new content standards that are still under development for science.
"Close reading is an instructional approach that requires readers to re-read a text several times and really develop a deep understanding of the content contained in the text. The purpose is to build the habits of readers as they engage with the complex texts and to build their stamina and skills for being able to do so independently. However, close reading doesn’t mean that you simply distribute a complex reading and then exhort them to read it again and again until they understand it. As part of a close reading, students "read with a pencil" and learn to annotate as they go. In addition, they are asked text-dependent questions that require that they produce evidence from the text as part of their responses."
A DISTRICT PERSPECTIVE: SCAFFOLDING TEXT COMPLEXITY FOR AT-RISK READERS by Tara Boyer
Perhaps the increased rigor of the common core will help us to eradicate the gap between those students who are reading at grade level and those who are not.
Even so, the process will not be immediate.
And while I support the common core, I also realize that not all students will be able to read independently at the lowest level of the text bands without scaffolding, let alone at the high end of the text bands.
"In general, I’m a fan of anything that gets students writing, and there are real benefits to giving students the gift of textual brevity rather than the stomach-churning fear of a five-paragraph structured essay. I’ve done quite a few articles on the benefits of Twitter’s 140-character approach to writing and my teacher’s gut says the same applies to text messaging. Truth, studies on this topic are inconclusive."
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