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.
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.
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."
This demand of the Common Core, which call for greater emphasis on informational text, has caused a wide range of feelings and reactions from educators across the United States. Some embrace the idea; others are outraged.
Most teachers with whom I have spoken plan to do what needs to be done to meet the needs of their students.
Another shift in the ELA standards is a concentrated focus on argument instead of persuasion. While persuasion may often rely on emotional appeals and personal experience, argument requires more textual evidence and close-reading of the text. This lesson shows a multi-step approach to help students learn to focus on how an argument is constructed.
By secondary grades, the standards say that students should be reading 70% nonfiction and 30% fiction. We have to remember, though, that the literacy standards are for more than just English Language Arts, so this breakdown is the responsibility of an entire building. Lessons like Inquiry Based Teaching: Discussing Non-Fiction show how to analyze non-fiction in an inquiry-based method. Note: adult language is sometimes used to talk about slave narratives in this lesson.
One of the thornier aspects of the new common standards is the formula for sizing up the complexity of a text. You've probably heard that the standards hit heavily on the importance of students reading stuff that is sufficiently complex to challenge them and evolve their reading skills. You've probably heard less, however, about exactly how teachers are supposed to gauge a text's complexity.
The Implementing Common Core Standards teacher team created portfolios of unit plans, lesson plans, assessments, and student work documenting their use of Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) tools across the curriculum.
The teachers’ plans and materials will be available online soon. For now, here are their reflections on bringing Common Core-aligned lessons to life in their classrooms.
In School Library Journal this month that librarians’ expertise in embedding “inquiry” into instruction fits “elegantly” with the Common Core’s focus on the “process” of learning rather than just the content that must be covered.
Myth: Fiction is the only way to develop students’ love of reading, learning, and critical comprehension skills is "one of the most prominent and often fiercely defended fallacies in American education."
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.
"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."
"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."
“Reading is ‘domain specific.’ You already have to know at least a little bit about the subject—and sometimes a lot about the subject—to understand a text. The same thing is also true about creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving. Indeed, nearly all of our most cherished and ambitious goals for schooling are knowledge-dependent . . .
Daniel Willingham has written, ‘may be the single biggest factor holding back reading achievement in the country. Students will not meet standards that way. The knowledge-base problem must be solved.'
From very early grades, students are asked to see texts in the context of others. No longer can we see texts in isolation. Practically speaking, this means that we don’t read a book, take a quiz, take a test, put the book away. Rather, we need to see texts in conversation with each other to help students have more opportunities for analysis. This lesson from my classroom offers a look at texts in conversation with each other.
An award-winning English and Social Studies teacher at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, Calif., Larry Ferlazzo is the author of Helping Students Motivate Themselves: Practical Answers To Classroom Challenges, English Language Learners:...
As we begin to think about aligning our instruction with the Common Core Standards, we must first reflect on our loftier goals for students as learners, one of which is critical thinking. How well do the standards support this goal?
There are some things computers really can do better than humans. But what about writing?
"Mark Shermis (pictured) heads up the University of Akron College of Education. Earlier this year, he co-authored a study of nine different essay-grading computer programs. Shermis says that on shorter writing assignments the computer programs matched grades from real live humans up to 85 percent of the time. But on longer, more complicated responses, the technology didn’t do quite as well."