Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Post for the week of July 30, 2012

Post for the week of July 30, 2012

One of my colleagues has recently been spending time delving into page nine of the new frameworks deeply.

On page nine, the writers stress the “capacities of the literate individual” (some people are calling them the “CLIs”).  While the math frameworks have the eight math practices for overall guidance, maybe page nine is an equivalent statement for ELA teachers. 

This page explores the idea of what makes students College and Career Ready (the "RCC" in "PARCC").  What do we want students to know and be able to do when they graduate from high school?  What do “literate” people do?

 1.  They demonstrate independence.
 Literate individuals can tackle texts by themselves and will keep tackling for the rest of their lives. 

2.  They build strong content knowledge.
Literate individuals have good questions and work hard to research to find the answers.   

3.  They respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline.
Literate individuals are flexible, shifting as their rhetorical elements shift.

4.  They comprehend as well as critique.
(I think the order could be switched here—comprehend first, then evaluate!)

5.  They value evidence.
Literate individuals have backup to support their ideas.       

6.  They use technology and digital media strategically and capably.
Literate individuals are digital natives BUT they can still use paper and pencil when required.

7.  They come to understand other perspectives and cultures.
Literate individuals don’t necessarily agree with everyone’s argument, but they can understand it and work with it respectfully.

Page nine gives us a lot to think about!  If we share these values, we should share them with students!

Email me your ideas about the CLIs at aldick@doe.mass.edu.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Post for the Week of July 23, 2012

Post for the Week of July 23, 2012

I've been thinking about the 70/30 split at the high school level lately. 

The Common Core says we need to have students reading 70% informational texts and 30% literary texts in high school:


People need to remember that the 70% can be spread across a student's WHOLE SCHOOL DAY, not just in English class!  It's a common misconception that the English teacher now has to teach 70% informational text!

What if a student's day looked like this?

Period 1--Social Studies (15% of the total informational text)
Period 2--Art (10% of the total informational text)
Period 3--ELA (30% of the literary and 10% of the total informational text)
Period 4--study hall (phew!)
Period 5--Math (10% of the total informational text)
Period 6--Physical Education (10% of the total informational text)
Period 7--Science (15% of the total informational text)

Is it possible for us to negotiate with the content areas to make the literacy instruction fair and balanced? 

Tell me how your school district is planning to divvy up reading at aldick@doe.mass.edu!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Post for the week of July 16, 2012

Post for the week of July 16, 2012

I just finished a tremendous week at Harvard University Graduate School of Education learning more about UDL (Universal Design for Learning).  UDL is all about providing students (all students--not just special education concerns) with choices so they can access the curriculum in the way they learn best.  The following image is at http://udlandopd.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/udl-guidelines.gif.

UDL is all about providing options for all students in the way that they see the content of the class (in print, out loud, with images, etc.), the way they respond to assignments, and the way they are engaged in the material. 

Using UDL ideas has been made much easier by technology.  Check out the following sites about using UDL in the literacy classroom:

http://www.udlcenter.org/ (a general overview with resources)
http://cast.org/ (a general overview with resources)
http://tarheelreader.org/ (a site that provides online books in different languages)
http://bookbuilder.cast.org/ (a site that allows students to use images and text to build their own books)

I recommend this Web site because it contains many ways to use UDL even if your classroom doesn't have much technology:

Enjoy!  Share the ways you use UDL with me at aldick@doe.mass.edu

Monday, July 9, 2012

Post for the week of July 9, 2012

Post for the week of July 9, 2012

I just went to a great session on Formative Assessment. 

Formative assessments are checks for learning DURING learning.  Formative assessments include informal assessments, such as "thumbs up/thumbs down" and exit tickets and more traditional methods, such as a quick quiz.  Summative assessments are checks for understanding at the END of learning, such as a final exam or essay.

As I became more and more convinced of the value of formative assessments, it made me think that perhaps there could be a systematic way to integrate them.  For example, if a teacher planned a three-week unit on a topic with a big test at the end, he/she could make it a point to always include at least five smaller formative assessments.  My idea is, for every ONE summative assessment, include FIVE formative assessments along the way.  That way, he/she could ensure that the students were on track or help develop plans to analyze why students weren’t getting it.  This system would avoid surprise failures on the big test.

There are hundreds of formative assessments online and many professional development workshops available. 

If this seems overwhelming, remember that formative assessments don't need to be graded.  They can be sorted to get quick data—who got it and who didn't?  You could also devise a quick Survey Monkey survey that compiles the results for you.  Also, you can work with students on formative assessments.  The next day, tell them the results and get their feedback on how to move forward.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Post for the week of July 2, 2012

Post for the week of July 2, 2012

Three Ways to Read the Standards (Part III)

The summer is a great time to study the new Common Core standards. I would suggest that we study them three ways:

1. Follow a standard
2. Read the whole thing
3. Compile a list by grade level

Another good way to study the standards is to compile lists of the new standards by grade level.  To do this, you can either cut and paste out the standards for any given grade level into one document.  It's a great way to quickly see what each teacher is responsible for. 

Some companies have done this work for us and have come up with big books of the standards and posters: http://www.standards-toolbox.org/.

Whether you do it yourself or buy it, seeing all your grade-level standards at one time is a good way to help your planning for the whole year.  Also, share the grade level standards (for both ELA and Content Literacy) with content teachers.  No one should forget the last 7 pages of the green book!