Monday, December 10, 2012

Post for the Week of December 10, 2012

Post for the Week of December 10, 2012

How much should secondary students be reading?  Traditionally, middle and high school teachers have had long lists of novels and plays to read, sometimes up to twelve or more.  The teachers feel they have to "cover" these books, sometimes dragging students through texts.

Look at this chart below, from PARCC.  It gives us suggestions on book choices and quantity.

Sample Model Content Framework Chart

The Model Content Frameworks permit educators the flexibility to shape the content within the modules in any way that suit their desired purposes and even re-order the modules themselves. Because the knowledge and skills embedded across the four modules address all the standards for a given grade level, the order in which the four modules may be used is not critical. What changes from module to module is the focus and emphasis on the types of texts read and written about; what remains constant across all four modules is the cultivation of students’ literacy skills in preparation for college and career readiness as well as the future PARCC assessments.[2]

This chart notes a sequence for ELA texts (notice that science, math, social studies, and other subject that require extensive reading aren't included here--remember the 70/30 split across a grade level!).  The chart shows FOUR major works ("extended texts").  Just four!  And TWO of them are informational texts!

This change represents a major shift for us under the Common Core and PARCC.  Putting a serious amount of time into picking these four major texts is important (use Appendix B for books with already-approved lexile levels).  Of course, you can still teach minor and shorter texts, but it would be most effective if the shorter texts connected to the major work.  Quality over quality is the goal: as long as we meet the standards, it doesn't matter which high-quality texts we use.

Charts like these from PARCC are also helpful because they indicate ways to re-organize what we do; for example, completing four research projects a year is something that will really change ELA classrooms. 

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