Post for the week of May 6, 2013
Happy teacher appreciation week!
Two things before I continue writing on the "What's in/What's out" document.
1. I always keep my eye out for cool summer reading ideas. Here's one. A high school (ages 13-19) could easily do this for its summer reading program: free, online, informative, real-world and relevant reading. It's nine weeks of reading and writing!
2. Good idea for any English Department: before you go home for the summer, inventory the book closet, but do it in a new way. Find the Lexile levels of all your books and see if they meet the new requirements. If they don't measure up, consider moving the text to a more appropriate grade level. If you can't move it, consider the rigor of the activities done with the text. If you can encourage more difficult tasks, maybe the book can stay.
Now, back to what's in. Number four is "coherent sequences of texts vs. collection of unrelated texts." In the past, organization of texts could be haphazard--whatever is in the book closet, whatever is in the basal reader, whatever is in the textbook. But students and teachers need structure to make sense of what they're reading and to make connections between the texts. Consider grouping texts by theme, author, chronology or genre.
PARCC suggests that for each quarter, there is one extended text (literary or informational) and some shorter related texts (5-9 for the younger grades and 3-5 for older students).
So one idea is picking four major works for the year and then a handful of texts around those "anchor texts." In one quarter, you could read one long play, three poems, and two short stories. In another quarter, you could read one full-length information piece surrounded by three speeches and two critical essays.
Now is a great time to reconsider your curriculum and to make changes to impact student achievement.