Posted by The Weaver on 20th March and posted in Common Core
I recently did a guest webinar on text complexity and close reading that you may be interested in checking out for my friends at Teach N’Kids Learn, Inc. The webinar was recorded and can be accessed by clicking this link: Karen Tankersley on Text Complexity and Close Reading for Common Core. You will need to register to view the archived video but there is no charge to watch so I hope you will take advantage of this 30 minute video Presentation.
Posted by The Weaver on 22nd November and posted in vocabulary teaching tips
I recently learned about an excellent website where you can find 10 academic word lists for high school student use. At this site, you will find the most frequently occurring word in the family along with the related word family variations for the word. For example, the word “authority” cites “authoritative” as well as “authorities” as related words to the main word. When students can link words by family, they have longer retention and have a better understanding of the words and their derivative uses. The list contains 570 word families. See the tab “How to Use this List” for some great tips to maximize retention and word learning.
Posted by The Weaver on 16th September and posted in Common Core
Let me begin this post by saying that I like the new Common Core standards and think that they can have a profound impact – for the better – on how reading is taught in this country. I am a firm believer that lifting the expectations for student performance and helping students be better readers and writers is a very good thing. Based on what I hear from teachers across the country, I have to say though, that there seems to be a lot of misinformation about what teaching reading will look like as we move to the Common Core. I have even heard high school teachers say that we will now ask kids to read really hard and complex text and if they can’t do it, “oh well….it’s what the standards require.” While the standards do require students, particularly from 4th grade up to “stretch” to read more complex text at higher lexile levels, we will still need to structure our lessons around what we know is effective reading practice. The standards are very clear that while they have set the “bar” high for the outcome of learning, the HOW of instruction is still left to the teacher.
We have never known more about good reading instruction so we must not “miss the boat” when it comes to using what we know works to build strong readers. Beginning readers still need strong phonemic awareness and systematic phonics instruction to become effective decoders during their beginning years. Intermediate readers will still need to practice and practice their reading skills until they are fluent readers. Middle and high school readers must learn to have not only basic comprehension when they read a text but they must also learn to process at the higher levels of comprehension including questioning the content and comparing to multiple perspectives. None of this has changed.
The Common Core standards will require us to use all that we know from research to provide that solid foundation and then build on that to reach even higher levels of performance. That is a tall order all by itself so we must not abandon what we have learned about effective reading instruction over the years. Instead, we must create solid weaves beneath our students so we can take them higher and deeper.
Posted by The Weaver on 9th September and posted in Common Core, writing
One of the requirements of the new Common Core standards for secondary grades is teaching students how to write an argument paper. Many teachers think that persuasive writing is the same as argumentative writing however, there are differences – albeit subtle ones. In persuasive writing, the writer is trying to get the reader to agree with you and your point of view on the topic while in argumentative writing, the author acknowledges that the “other” side of the argument has some merit and deserves consideration as another point of view. In persuasive writing, the author attempts to convince the reader that his viewpoint is the “right” one and include a heavy reliance on the author’s own opinions. In argumentative writing, the writer offers credible facts and perspectives to show that the writer has “sufficient evidence” for his or her perspective. In persuasive writing, the author identifies a topic and the point of view from which s/he will argue. In argumentative writing, the author researches the topic and then aligns with one side while still honoring the valid claims of the opposing viewpoint. Persuasive writing is more personal, passionate and often more emotionally laden. Argumentation presents an idea and a sound rationale for conclusions regardless of whether or not the reader ends up agreeing at the end. The writer is merely stating his or her position and the basis on which the conclusions have been made regardless of whether or not the reader agrees in the end.
Posted by The Weaver on 22nd June and posted in Common Core
The longer I review the learning expectations of the ELA Common Core standards, the more it becomes obvious to me how teachers will need to work collaboratively to help students learn reading and writing to the depths that will be needed to meet these new standards. Working collaboratively on the same topics across disciplines will be an absolute necessity for teachers in middle and high school. Each content area teacher will need to think about how the skills required for student mastery in reading and writing are used in his or her own discipline and then be responsible for teaching students how to read or write in the discipline as a professional of that discipline would. This will be a gigantic paradigm shift for teachers who have been used to simply closing the door and teaching “cover to cover” from a textbook. Unfortunately, many teachers that I have heard at meetings and trainings still have not realized that this shift in thinking will need to take place for student success. Many still think they will just be substituting one set of standards for a new – albeit more difficult – set of standards and that teaching will continue as it has for the past 30 years. When the time for testing comes, they will miss the boat and be left wondering why their students are not able to demonstrate proficiency on the new CC assessments. The game has changed. The sooner we realize that a group of heads all focused on the same goals are better than a single teacher, the more successful we will be. What has your school been doing to foster teacher collaboration in the Common Core Standards? Please feel free to share your comments on this topic.