Post for the week of August 6, 2012
The Joys of Summer Vacation
One aspect of ELA teaching that is emphasized by the Common Core is the reading and writing connection. Deemphasize open writing prompts with no reference to a text. Instead of "what did you do on your summer vacation?" find a writing passage about a summer vacation and ask students to 1) summarize the main ideas and 2) compare and contrast his/her summer vacation to the passage. Then the assignment becomes both writing AND reading practice! Instead of narrative, turn the assignment to argument.
Here's one book for younger students:
Here's an essay for high school students:
Another important aspect of comprehension that will have to change because of Common Core is improved teaching of annotation and note-taking strategies. Taking a more active role in reading promotes comprehension. While it's great to read for fun (this week is a great time to read poolside!), school reading should take place sitting up in a chair with a pen or pencil in hand.
Here's a cool lesson from The New York Times:
I have also found that if you collect a student's "notes," he/she will write anything on a page to make it look like he/she took "good notes." What are "good notes" anyway? Ever see a book completely highlighted? That shows a lack of comprehension.
I would argue that you can get a sense of a student's note-taking abilities by assigning writing that the student could complete with the help of his/her notes. Or have a one-on-one "reading conference," where students talk with you about what they annotated and why.
It's not the notes that matter; it's the attention and focus accorded to the task while reading.