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Implementing the Common Core: Stories from the Field

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  1. Implementing the Common Core: Stories from the Field Susan Pimentel

  2. Key Shifts in Instruction Prompted by the Common Core State Standards • Complexity: Regular practice with complex text (and its academic language) • Evidence: Reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence from text • Knowledge: Building knowledge through content-rich informational texts

  3. Key Shifts Build Toward College and Career Readiness for All Students

  4. Instructional Implications for Key ShiftOne:Regular practice with complex text (and its academic language)

  5. Key Shift 1: Complex Text Why relevant and important? • What students can read, in terms of complexity, is greatest predictor of success in college (ACT study) • Gap between complexity of college and high school texts is huge (4 years!) • ACT tells us too many students are reading at too low a level(<50% of graduates can read sufficiently complex texts) Deficiencies are not equal opportunity. . .

  6. Where is “Complex Text” in the standards? • Reading Standard 10 includes a staircase of increasing text complexity, grade by grade. • Anchor Standard 10 reads, “Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.”

  7. Some Features of Complex Text • Complex sentences (sentence length); longer paragraphs • Uncommon vocabulary (word length, word familiarity) • Lack of repetition, overlap or similarity in words and sentences • Subtle and/or frequent transitions; lack of words, sentences or paragraphs that review or pull things together for reader • Multiple and/or subtle themes and purposes • Dense information • Unfamiliar settings, topics or events • Informational (rather than narrative) text structures and/or mixes structures

  8. Informing Instruction Through Qualitative Analysis • If my text has complicated syntax and sentence structures. . . • If my text has many and varying vocabulary demands… • If my text has multiple and subtle levels of meaning or purpose. . . • If my text has specialized knowledge demands or includes a great deal of information. . . • If my text has mixed, changing, or unconventional structures. . . • If my text has essential graphics/ visual supports… Then I should intentionally focus instructional time on this element!

  9. Navigating Text Complexity

  10. Text Complexity Roadmaps

  11. Is there still a role for pre-reading? Yes. And teachers around the country are… • Offering highly focused pre-reading activities that do not preempt or provide knowledge that can be gained from a careful read of the text • Limiting pre-reading to no more than 10% of time set aside for focusing on the text • Thinking about when best to offer supports to students: What must I do before? What can wait? • Giving thought to what’s been planned as part of pre-reading and then reflecting again so as not to fall into old patterns • Using student reading as pre-reading, i.e., using simplified texts to build student competence and background knowledge so students can access the more complex text

  12. Can we depend on the passages in our pre-Common Core textbooks? Yes, mostly. But teachers around the country are… • Asking publishers to supply complexity metrics of the passages in textbooks or running the complexity metrics themselves (publically available: Lexile, Reading Maturity, ATOS) • Moving textbooks originally designed for their grade down to a lower grade • Spending time on the qualitative complexity of texts

  13. Is close reading all students need? No! Teachers around the country… • Know that in addition to closely reading texts, students need the opportunity to read a volume of texts to build their vocabularies and general knowledge • Are setting aside time for accountable independent reading of 20 minutes per day which translates into students gaining the equivalent of about 60 whole school days of reading by grade 6! • Are creating structures that track independent reading through student journals, reading logs, book clubs, book talks, individual conferences, and the like

  14. Is there still a role for leveled text? Yes. Teachers around the country… • Know that in addition to complex text, students need lots of practice to read texts closer to their own independent reading level • Know that students reading at their own level is where stamina and persistence develop, and where vocabularies and knowledge bases can be rapidly expanded! • Are re-conceptualizing the guided reading block so: • It includes accountable independent reading at a student’s level, but not as rigidly leveled as traditional guided reading • It privileges student choice because when students are invested in a topic, they have stamina to read at higher levels • Students who most need it get focused time with their teacher in small groups

  15. Can we closely read entire novels? Of course! Teachers around the country are… • Concentrating on challenging sections of novels in class to study organization, sentence structures, word choice, symbolism, character development, plot advancement, etc. • What’s worth knowing here? • In what ways does this excerpt rely upon, relate to, or affect other portions of the text? • In what ways does this excerpt relate to the book’s theme? Propel the action? • What has the author hinted at? • Assigning other parts of the novel for independent reading and asking students to annotate the text in preparation for classroom discussions

  16. Should we organize around standards or the text? The text! Teachers around the country are… • Discarding traditional pacing guides that detail when a particular content standard should be taught and/or assessed • Abandoning a checklist approach and asking sequences of questions that touch on several standards at once • Bundling standards across domains in each lesson, too (integrating reading, writing, speaking and language) • Slowing down, chunking texts, reading, re-reading, spending days on a single text rather than rushing through or reading a text only once

  17. Instructional Implications for Key ShiftTwo:Reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence

  18. Key Shift 2: Evidence! Why relevant and important? • Most college and workplace writing requires evidence • Ability to cite evidence differentiates strong from weak student performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in reading • Being able to locate and deploy evidence are hallmarks of strong readers and writers

  19. Where is “Evidence” in the standards? The standards prioritize students’ command of evidence across the domains of reading, writing, speaking & listening: • Rigorously cite evidence from texts to support claims/inferences (Reading Standard 1) • Draw evidence from texts to support analysis, reflection and research (Writing Standard 9) • Engage in purposeful evidence-based talk (Speaking and Listening Standard 1)

  20. Nature of Text-Dependent Questions • Text-dependent questions provide students a wholly text-dependent experience when reading complex informational text. • Personal bias is minimized in favor of the text evidence—no reliance on personal experience or knowledge to construct appropriate, evidence-based answers. • Text-dependent questions privilege the text and allow students to deal with information that is directly before them.

  21. In “Casey at the Bat,” Casey strikes out. Describe a time when you failed at something. In “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Dr. King discusses nonviolent protest. Discuss, in writing, a time when you wanted to fight against something that you felt was unfair. From “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,”have students identify the different methods of removing warts that Tom and Huck talk about. Ask students to devise their own charm to remove warts. Are there cultural ideas or artifacts from the current time that could be used in the charm? Drawing Evidence from Texts Not Text-Dependent Text-Dependent What makes Casey’s experiences at bat humorous? What can you infer from King’s letter about the letter that he received? Why does Tom hesitate to allow Ben to paint the fence? How does Twain construct his sentences to reflect that hesitation? What effect do Tom’s hesitations have on Ben?

  22. Can we depend on questions from our textbooks at elementary school? Well, not really. Teachers around the country are… • Supplementing and supplanting current resources with text dependent questions through the Basil Alignment Project—a library of almost 250 teacher-developed lessons for grades 3-5: CA Districts Revising Lessons: Corona- Norco, Fremont, Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Ana (40,000 teachers across the nation!)

  23. Can we depend on questions from our textbooks at middle school? Well, not really. Teachers around the country are… • Supplementing and supplanting current resources with text dependent questions through the Anthology Alignment Project—almost 100 teacher-developed lessons for grades 6-8 CA Districts Revising Lessons: Capistrano, Corona-Norco, Covina, Fresno, Jefferson, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Montebello, Paramount, Riverside, Sacramento, , San Diego, Santa Ana, Imperial County, Ventura County, San Mateo, Westside Union

  24. Are text-to-self questions permitted? Yes. But teachers around the country are… • Using text-to-self connections more sparingly, realizing that too often personal response had replaced an analysis of the text • Beginning by focusing on the text itself (rather than connections): what the words say, structure of the text, specific word choice and implications of authorial choices • Only then (in later readings after the text has been deeply and completely analyzed) asking students how the text connects to their life and views and how the text connects to other texts

  25. Should students write to every text? Yes! Teachers around the country are… • Including a range of short and on demand pieces in addition to longer process pieces in upper elementary and beyond • Providing students writing prompts that • Are contextualized, in other words, they are based on a text • Use the language of the standard where appropriate • Are specific regarding the use of evidence in student responses • Cross domains so a single prompt may assess writing, language, and reading standards

  26. Is persuasion the same as argument? No!

  27. CCSS Mode of Argument Writing Draw evidence from a text in one of three ways: • Students provided with several texts that have evidence for one or both sides of an issue and asked to make a claim about the issue using evidence from the texts • Students provided with text(s) that make a claim, and then asked to argue whether the claim is well-supported by the texts • Students presented with a text and asked to make a claim about some aspect of it

  28. Instructional Implications for Key ShiftThree:Building knowledge through content rich nonfiction

  29. Key Shift 3: Building Knowledge Why relevant and important? • Non-fiction makes up the vast majority of required reading in college/workplace • Informational text is harder for students to comprehend than narrative text • Boys lag girls in reading… research shows males prefer reading informational texts over narrative fiction • Bundling texts around a topic increases academic vocabulary growth by as much as 4x (Adams and Landauer)

  30. Where is “Building Knowledge” in the standards? • Common Core pertains to literacy across the disciplines of science, social studies, and technical subjects • Building knowledge appears most directly in the writing standards 7-9 that pertain to research • Several reading standards ask students to compare, contrast, synthesize information across several texts on the same topic • Page 33 of the standards (Human Body) shows what it means to provide students with a coherent selection of texts

  31. Is literature “out” in ELA classes? Absolutely not! And ELA teachers across the country are… • Bringing additional content-rich literary nonfiction—texts worth reading and re-reading—into their curriculum • Building text sets that include fiction and literary nonfiction texts that “talk to each other” when building units of study • Providing students with coherent selections of strategically-sequenced texts so they can build knowledge about a topic

  32. By informational, do we mean reading bus schedules and gov’t regulations in ELA? No. But ELA teachers around the country are… Adding more literary nonfiction texts to their lessons. Here are some examples: • Narrative of the Life of Frederic Douglass an American Slave • Travels with Charley: In Search of America • Speeches by Patrick Henry, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Learned Hand, Margaret Chase Smith, Elie Wiesel, Ronald Reagan and the like • The Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights • Paine’s Common Sense, Thoreau’s Walden, and Emerson’s “Society and Solitude”

  33. Can we depend on our ELA textbooks for the right balance of passages? No. Teachers around the country are… • Supplementing mainly narrative textbook passages with a collection of related texts organized around a topic or line of inquiry. A given text set… • Is determined by an anchor text—a rich, complex grade-level anchor text—that is the focus of a close reading • Includes texts that are connected meaningfully to each other to so that in reading the set, students build a coherent body of knowledge around the topic • Varies in terms of number of texts depending on purpose and resource availability around a given topic

  34. What are teachers doing to support struggling readers access complex texts? Bust the myth that growth of reading skills must be sequential—allow students to practice with complex texts while they get extra supports and do so by: • Chunking the text (teach a little at a time) • Reading text aloud while students follow along • Slowing down, reading and re-reading • Offering sequences of engaging questions (not explanations) • Providing coherent sequences of texts (through gradated texts and guided reading) • Placing a premium on stamina and persistence • Providing support while reading rather than just before; offer extra support to students who need it

  35. Washoe County Core Task Project Question: How do we train educators on the CCSS with limited funding? • Began with 18 teachers volunteered from across the SES spectrum: • Make-up of district: 63,000 students and demographics: • 38% Hispanic • 48% White • 45% Free & Reduced Lunch • 13% IEP

  36. Video: The Core Task Project through the voices of teachers… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSYiwPJFMM8&feature=youtu.be

  37. Top Ten Actions to Take: • Take Complexity Inventory of what your students are reading and make adjustments • Conduct qualitative analyses of texts • Ask all students to stretch to read more complex texts—especially short texts—beyond their reading level (with supports) • Be thoughtful about (and focus) pre-reading 5. Re-conceptualize guided reading—place a premium on accountable independent reading

  38. Top Ten Actions to Take, cont’d. • Establish structures that promote a volume of reading • Adjust balances of texts so students have more experience with a range of informational texts • Build gradated text sets • Evidence! Evidence! Evidence! Substitute text-dependent questions for non text-dependent questions in existing materials • Ask students to write about everything they read

  39. Resources • http://www.ccsso.org/Navigating_Text_Complexity.html • EngageNY: K-8 lessons worth using (Core Knowledge and Expeditionary Learning) • BAP, AAP and RAP: • Edmodo: BAP group code: f4q6nm; AAP group code: jsv4r7; RAP group code: pkx52i • www.achievethecore.org • “Both And” Literacy Instruction (The Libens) • InCommon (Vermont Writing Collaborative) • Mini-assessments • Assessment Evaluation Tool • Instructional Materials Evaluation Tool