This morning, I attended an Achieve 3000 webinar on ELA for the Common Core. Below are the notes I took as the presentation went on–there was some repeated information (things I’ve already heard), but also a LOT of new stuff! I draw your attention to these new bits of info with bolded, underlined, and/or italicized formatting. I’ll post the PDF of the conversation when it’s available.
Why the CCSS? CCSS are all about CCR. They are all about rigor. Created by National Governor’s Association. Only 1/2 citizens have a hs diploma, but 3/4 employers require high school diploma–concern as a country about our ability to compete in the future. According to the ACT study, we know reading is the fundamental skill to succeed in other areas. We want to significantly improve our math and science skills, which requires us to improve our fundamental reading skills.
How did we drop so significantly in achievement? Our overreliance on textbooks. Text complexity in our textbooks has dropped–based on lexiles, the average text complexity for our typical textbooks is approximately 200points (Lexile units) beneath the Lexile requirements to be successful in college, the military (yes, 75% of our youth aren’t able to pass tests to get into the military).
Reading, writing, and thinking are already 66% aligned with the content we are already teaching (Nationally).
We are currently in Phase 1 of the National Pathway for the Common Core. This year, in ELA, we must focus on Reading: More nonfiction, Writing: Literacy across the contents, Thinking: Critical Thinking, Speaking: Presenting/Debating.
Breakdown of Writing expectations:
- 4th 30% persuade, 35% explain, 35% story/experience
- 12th 40% persuade, 40% explain, 20% story/experience
Breakdown of Nonfiction Text Expectations:
- 4th 50%/50%
- 12th 30% Fiction, 70% Nonfiction
- K-1 N/A
- 2-3 450-790
- 4-5 770-980 (Today at 4th grade, we’re reading at 640: to 780L)
- 6-8 955-1155
- 9-10 1080-1305
- 11-CCR 1215-1355 (Today at 12th 1070L-1120L)
Talking about increasing rigor of texts by nearly two grade levels.
I liked this point: We’re moving from a classroom that is very controlled with students sitting sliently, to a very chaotic classroom with debate, analysis, participation. This is what a classroom with close analysis, evaluation, critical thinking, and argument looks like.
We need to be teaching reading across the content areas. (Wow, this just KEEPS COMING UP!! Remember, let me–the reading teacher–help you–the history/science/math teacher–help your kids access your content). A majority of the prompts on the assessments for ELA will come from the other contents. (Didn’t know that!!!!)
Standards have targets based on what a student should know, how they should reason (use knowledge to solve a problem), what they should perform (development, learning is a process), and/or what they can produce (tangible creation to show learning). Check out Matrix of Learning Verbs–to figure out what the student is supposed to do in terms of targets/projects/products.
Less scaffolding! We want students, especially at the HS, to be working more independently, with less scaffolding on the teacher’s part. Colleges expect students to work completely independently, and we need to be doing better to prepare them for this.
How do we implement in Phase 1 this first year?
- We want open-minded, skeptical readers, who understand what authors are saying, and question the author’s assumptions. Current content is probably 2/3 good (66% number above), but we need to work more on the analysis, using technology (critical CCR factor)–New assessments are ALL ONLINE, we want them to search online and integrate online information. Increase information texst, and include more nonfiction with more independent readers (one way to do that is to encounter unfamiliar texts!).
- Rigor is the MOST IMPORTANT skill.
Examples of things that are most important to do today:
Priority 1: Accelerate growth–Need to be moving 2 grade levels ahead.
ELL students will be required to be up to the grade level Lexile score as well.
Textbooks do not align to the expected rigor, textual complexity, the amount of informational text–so, the solution is to go deeper in the informational texts that are provided. Don’t teach more, teache less.
1. Plan ahead–what nonfiction are you going to use?
2. Integrate current events
3. Integrate biography (biography is nonfiction!)
4. Prioritize “academic” vocabulary (think about what you are putting up on your word walls, make sure it is nonfiction based)
5. Include history in the discussions of literature.
6. Use science-based examples
Instruction has to EXPECT higher levels of critical understanding.
Priority 2: Critical Thinking comes through “writing” which requires argument, researching, thinking, analyzing. Students need to summarize, question, and evaluate texts as they read. They can do this by paragraph. These three steps will become part of the outlining for their essay.
- On our own test assessments, we need to be asking students to analyze, interpret, evaluate, demonstrate proficiency, and read closely. We have to move away from just our lower-level thinking skills.
- For writing, we need to evaluate how we are phrasing our prompts. There are lots of picture prompts in the assessments that will be coming out.
Priority 3: Critical Thinking–Since we are in between tests, we have to make sure we align to state assessments as well as new assessments. Look up Bloom’s CUE questions to ensure students are engaging at the highest levels of learning. Increase rigor through use of CUE questions as well as having them speak and present in class.
Priority 4: Engage and Differentiate–We need to be seeing dramatic increases in Lexile scores, which comes from engagement and students actually using content at home. We have to integrate their interests in current events and the other contents to get them engaged in school.