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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Teach Plus Common Core Conference Links to Resources

More resources from the Teach Plus Conference below.  Please let me know if you have questions!

PARCC Frameworks
PARCC Sample Questions
Appendix B
2011 MA ELA State Frameworks
“What’s In and What’s Out” document new Common Core Lexile Levels
5 Things Every Teacher Should do to Meet the New Standards
“Six Shifts”
New York State 9-12 listing
MCAS Transition Document
Tri-State Rubric
Achieve the Core
Info about how to see the Model Curriculum Units

Teach Plus Conference Materials--More Core in Secondary ELA

I had a terrific crowd at the Teach Plus Common Core Conference at UMass Boston yesterday!

I am posting the materials and resources (in the next post) here.  The formatting is a bit messy, but the left-hand column contains Common Core themes (20 of them I have identified) and the right column is evidence.

Changes (in no particular order)
1.  Using what you read as models (MA standards are quite literary)
Grade 6 RL standard is echoed in the writing
(RL.6.MA.8A and W.6.MA.3.A)
Grade 8 RL standard is echoed in the writing
(RL.8.MA.8A and W.8.MA.3.A)

2.  Pairing texts that are connected—multiple genres on the same topic or theme
PARCC Prototypes
Compare and contrast fiction and history (RL.7.9)
A subject in two mediums (RL.9-10.7)
Multiple interpretations in relation to source text (RL.11-12.7)

3.  Synthesis as a reason for reading and a purpose for writing
PARCC Assessment Prototypes
Compare and contrast fiction and history (RL.7.9)
A subject in two mediums (RL.9-10.7)
Multiple interpretations of source text (RL.11-12.7)
“Six Shifts”

4.  Wait, I’m supposed to do this? (SS texts in ELA)
Analyze seminal US documents (RI.9-10.9)
Seminal US texts (RI.11-12.8)
Foundational US documents (RI.11-12.9)

5.  Rigor for everyone and increased text complexity
Critical lenses (RL.11-12.MA.8a)
“What’s In and What’s Out?”
New Lexile levels
“Six Shifts”
“Five Things Every Teacher Should be Doing”

6.  Fewer texts more deeply
PARCC Quilts and “anchor texts”
Fewer overall standards

7.  Shorter assignments and longer assignments: regular research, writing, and speaking and listening (not just one big project or event)
Short and sustained research projects (W.9-12.7)
Write routinely (W.9-12.10)
Range of discussions (SL)

8.  Different structure for the Standards
When comparing and contrasting the old standards to the new, the emphases are different

9.  More informational text for all
Reading Informational Text standards and 1/5 of the new standards
“Six Shifts”
“What’s In and What’s Out?”

10.  Close reading and rhetorical analysis

11.  Academic language over literary terms
New Marzano book
“What’s In and What’s Out?”
Vocabulary used in Appendix B sample assignments
“Six Shifts”

12.  Shared sense of responsibility for literacy
Standards in reading and writing for teachers of social studies, math, and science
Pathways to the Common Core
“Six Shifts”

13.  More types of writing assessed and more writing expected
MCAS in grades 4 and 7

14.  Spending more time “in text” rather than building background knowledge—emphasis on reading and re-reading over pre-reading (teacher imparts information)

“What’s In and What’s Out?”
“Six Shifts”

15.  Less emphasis on “text-to-self” connections and more “text dependent” questions

“What’s In and What’s Out?”
Pathways to the Common Core (page 25)
16.  Less emphasis on “covering” a period
Appendix B text lists
New York State 9-12 listing
“What’s In and What’s Out?”

17.  Evidence-based thinking
“Six Shifts”
“Five Things Every Teacher Should be Doing”

18.  Assignments with real audiences (not just teacher)
“Five Things Every Teacher Should be Doing”
MA ESE Model Curriculum Unit’s UbD approach

19.  More time spent on independent reading in school

Pathways to the Common Core (page 51, 69-70)
20.  Using content-rich informational text to build knowledge, not teacher lecture

Standards in reading and writing for teachers of social studies, math, and science

“What’s In and What’s Out?”

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Pairing Informational Text and Literary Works

So, I am too overwhelmed with September to start a new professional book, but Teaching with Poverty in Mind is my next read.  

Getting geared up to present on the Common Core with Teach Plus next weekend.  I'll post some of the ideas here next week.

I've also been preparing for NCTE.  I am presenting with a colleague on the following topic: (Re)Inventing Non-Fiction in the Secondary ELA Classroom.  I'm thinking that the main idea of my talk is the importance of exposing students to non-narrative non-fiction.  

Right now, people teach The Autobiography of Malcolm X (one of my favorites) or In Cold Blood (ditto) and say they are teaching non-fiction.  Of course, they are, and this exposure helps students become college and career ready.

But so much "non-fiction" reads just like fiction, and it doesn't necessarily help students struggle with abstract concepts and organizational strategies (other than chronological order).  

So, I am starting the book Feed with my students this week.  I'm spending some time today finding texts with which to pair it.  I'm reading "Does Google Make Us Stupid?" and selections from other texts.

If you have any ideas, feel free to let me know!  

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Going "Paperless"

Here's the last quote I'll share from Donald Graves' new collected works:

"Dishonest writing is not good writing.  How easy it is to teach our students to write dishonestly to fulfill curriculum requirements.  Indeed, a student's entire diet from first grade through high school can be a series of one dishonest piece after another.  Sadly, the student can even graduate without learning that writing is the medium through which our most intimate thoughts and feelings can be expressed" (62).

So sad but so true!  It's hard to see kids going through the motions when nothing they write really engages them.  I guess the key is variety?  Coming up with assignments until you find the ones that really elicit honest responses?

One of my beginning of the year activities is to have kids make a PowerPoint about themselves.  On the first day of school, I present a PowerPoint about myself and my life, complete with an MLA works cited slide for all the pictures I've taken off the Web.  Then all my kids do their own version.

It's a cool activity because I get to see how proficient they are with technology and what facts they choose to share about themselves.

It's also a major pain in the neck, from a grading standpoint.  I don't want to print 120+ PowerPoints nor do I want to save them all, so I just look at them online, but I'm finding it a difficult task to organize.  Between two email addresses, and the fact that everyone names the file "powerpoint," it's hard to score them easily.

Next year, I need to do a lesson on labeling files so that this task runs more smoothly.  I love the activity because I get to learn so much about them!  I am also hoping to become more paperless this year.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Free Common Core Event at UMass Boston

Click on the link above to sign up for a FREE Common Core event for teachers at UMass Boston on September 28.  It should be a fantastic event!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Struggle to Write

"Students can go a lifetime and never see another person write, much less show them how to write.  Yet it would be unheard of for an artist not to show her students how to use oils by painting on her own canvas, or for a ceramist not to demonstrate how to throw clay on a wheel and shape the materials himself.  Writing is a craft.  It needs to be demonstrated to your students in your classroom, which is a studio, from choosing a topic to finishing a final draft.  They need to see you struggle to match your intentions with the words that reach the page" (64).

Above is another great metaphor from Donald Graves.  Writing in front of the students is also something Kelly Gallagher promotes. 

I am always striving to "teach writing," not just "assign writing."  I confess that in the past I haven't done much writing in front of students.  I am not worried about struggling on the topic in front of them; I am nervous about it for a few other reasons.

Classroom management-wise, what are they doing while I'm struggling in front of them?  Sitting quietly watching me?  I'm not sure if they can sustain their attention that long.  Maybe I should do it at the very beginning of class, when their attention is the best it can be?  I am going to make a plan to demonstrate writing at least once this quarter.  I have a projector, so it's a perfect set up, technology-wise.

If you have any suggestions for how you've done this, please feel free to email me at!