Monday, May 21, 2012

Post for the week of May 21, 2012

It's graduation season, so I've been thinking about College and Career Readiness lately.  Having taught seniors for the past five years or so, I am in touch with many college-aged students and hear about their struggles.  College, in many ways, is the perfect storm for literacy.  A college student is assigned hundreds of pages of independent reading per week and is rarely told explicitly what the reading "means."  College reading is full of discipline-specific academic vocabulary and allusions/references the student may have never encountered.  College students can write in their books, but they might never do it because they have never done it before and don't know how.  They may never have taken notes from readings before.  Fed a steady stream of novels in high school, college may be the students' first encounter with difficult textbooks and massive amounts of non-fiction.  They have to write papers that are longer than the five-paragraph essay, and they have to synthesize multiple sources and cite them correctly.  If they mess up a Works Cited page, they may be expelled for plagiarism.  Used to helicopter-ing parents and teachers, students may not know they can attend professors' office hours and writing centers for extra help. 

In short, these issues are why the Common Core was developed, approved, and implemented.  Read the standards closely.  If we teach the CCSS, students should be able to head to college with more confidence and less anxiety.  College still won't be stress free (or less expensive!), but it will be more manageable . . .


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1 comment:

  1. As a high school teacher who specializes in seniors across the spectrum, what you are saying rings true with me. Students wrestle with reading complex works, selecting their own topics, completing work in electronic venues--all with people who are less focused on the student, who will be with them very temporarily.

    Scaffolding isn't scaffolding until you take it away! Students need to experience independent completion of complex tasks before they get to college. So, we are working to make senior year (and now more of HS) a real preview of coming attractions. How?

    I have the pleasure of working with the faculty of Bridgewater State University, in the English, Education, Writing and Writing Across the Curriculum departments and programs--beyond the CCSS, forging relationships with the educators who will be receiving our students makes it clear not just what but for whom I am preparing my students. These generous folks have made the CCSS practical and real by sharing with me and the ELA department heads of South Shore just what our students can expect to do next year; I know that I have to help them more by helping them less... it isn't what they need to know as much as it is what they need to be able to do.

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