Colleagues -- My hope is that you find this little blog a useful reminder of our work together, as it will continue to inform us all; it will help us to have some touchstone of the shared experience as a point of reference. Please help clarify and add insights, responses, nuanced clarifications, etc. as you see fit.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

7. ELA Group: Text Complexity

NAEP results and ACT reading scores matter less than a students' ability to comprehend complex texts. CCSS are focusing on making meaning from increasingly complex texts; they are examples, not requirements. It's not exhaustive, but exemplary of the variety and level.

With scaffolding as appropriate, they'll develop the habits of mind that will help them stick to it and be able to handle tougher reading. We want to tailor our instruction so students grapple with much more, much, much more complex than those texts we are currently feeding them.

It's not fair, "it's a bait and switch if we don't prepare them for more complex texts."

Through the text, they gain greater general knowledge, language structure, and vocabulary. Interaction with these kinds of texts is for everybody, particularly those who can't access them in schools. It is practice with complex text, -- not intended to replace -- but some of your instruction will become rooted in complex text; you'll build scaffolds, questioning, and instructional supports around it.

In addition, Lexile levels may be shifting -- Appendix A p 8, and Achieve the Core has it also.

The 3 dimensions of text complexity suggest that this issue will be not simply resolved (qualitative, quantitative, reader & task considerations). Teachers do the qualitative and r/t considerations.
For a study on this issue of text complexity, see this link.

Activity: trying our collective hands at qualitative measures.
We are going to have to judge the texts -- it is situated in close, repeated, analytic reading of small bits of text. It's not what you do during SSR; it has to be effectively taught and supported.

Question: does ..CCSS have a set definition of text complexity? Three legged stool -- ...

Text dependent questioning -- it's always about going back to the text -- nuance, innuendo, implication, inferencing, reading for assumptions, conclusions, alternative arguments, etc. Darion's point is that text dependent questions invite students to ... "Analyze sections of the text, investigate how meaning can be altered, probe, examine shifts, question the authors choice, note patterns of writing, consider what's unclear or unstated." Review QTA.

Link to "Creating questions for close analytic reading exemplars: a guide."

Link to Daniels' Subjects Matter: Every Teachers Guide to Content Area Reading.

Monday, January 30, 2012

8. ELA Group: Writing to Meet the Standards

Referencing the exemplars of student writing and
comparing it to some of our current rubrics 
We started Sunday morning by first locating the standard in the standards document, identifying key attributes that speak to this standard. This approach is a way of looking at writing to determine where it is along the spectrum of approximating the standard; it's just to get a sense of what the model is. She suggested that HS teachers look at the standards for literacy as well as the HS writing standards. We started by reading the grade 5 standard, then annotating a piece of student writing published in the appendix. Reactions to the process were mixed; is it reading response, standard 2, not writing 52a? Is it opinion, not informative/explanatory? Where do we find a balance with reading and open response? We then moved on to the 10th grade student sample, reading it carefully, annotating the text, and then comparing our responses to the student work to the language of the standards. since there was some question as to whether or not the fifth grade sample wholly stood as an exemplar, we wanted to see if this piece really measured up.
Close, careful examination of the current exemplars
of student writing was essential for determining the
precise language of the standards themselves; we found that
 it was far from a simple task. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

9. ELA Group: Work in the Field

1. Cleveland Metropolitan SD, Cleveland Teachers Union, Mark Baumgartner, Director of Professional Issues. Implementation, awareness, via a symposium assessing readiness to approach the standards and training k-2 teachers. Included 2 6-hour sessions unpacking and inventory taking for readiness. PEAC teachers lead this work examining the standards, involved instructional coaches, teachers (promoting educator advancement in cleveland). rewrote scope and sequence standards documents for K-2teachers, incorporated science and social studies. Classroom support involves a "Common core advocate," an expert in the building. K-2 in 2011-2012; 3-5 in 2012-2013; 6-8 in 2013-2014; 9-12 in 2014-2015. The PD is job embedded but it's voluntary and paid. Refined over the year, "We are building as we're flying."

2. Laura Daigen-Ayala has created a wiki archiving the work over time, horizontally and then vertically. shared a gradient for analyzing text complexity to help teachers look at this.

 3. John Kuijper, Chicago Teachers Union Quest Center.

 4. Albequerque And Clara Albuquerque Public Schools, teachers have been examining the differences between their traditional common practices and CCSS. ALB teachers federation. focus as well is considering the needs of English language learners. Shared lessons and videotaped lesson as an exemplar to bring all students into the lesson for a teacher reflection piece. 1 out of 6 students is ELL.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

10. ELA Group: CCSS and English Language Learners & Students with Disabilities

Shifts in instructional focus: in the past it has been too often on language learning instead of content. Now, with CCSS their learning should be hand in hand, and this places big challenges and opportunities for teachers. First,  language proficiency is highly correlated to their second language acquisition and proficiency. Second, there is no monolithic ELL; incredible diversity with regard to the language, reading, literacy skills, etc. We can ask: what opportunities in the listening and dspeaking strands can be especially powerful? In examining standards, ask: what would be inherently stressful or difficult for ELL's? Since literacy rich environs are crucial, and cooperative learning and peer interaction essential, what can teachers do differently? What about ELL designed opportunity for discourse? Explicit instruction, ongoing formative assessment? These are critical supports that they need. And, how will we solicit supports from our colleagues? Some ideas: podcasting, photostory, vocabulary, building, read aloud, adult collaboration and support. Similarly, the vast differences among students with IEPs is akin to the ELL population. We can make standards based instruction coherent and continuous for all. There has been much push for UDL (universal design for learning); more universal access to content will benefit all of us. Assistive tech is more and more available. IDEA Partnership, a collaborative, is available.

ELA Group: Next Steps

Phew! Which way now? There is no template for how we are to proceed; we are learning through this process.

 Asks: 1. Read the AFT executive-board approved resolutions; they are items of encouragement. The 38 or so recommendations explicitly state what dc will do, what locals will do, and what the legislative push will be.

 2. Read and learn Appendix A, and spend the time understanding standards progression, gaining familiarity with Appendix B and C.

 3. Practice the activities, and support each other in formal and informal ways.

 4. We will get a PARCC framework that is newly revised, apparently they heard us. Classroom teachers can use the framework to guide their instruction throughout the semester. Packets and guiding questions handed out; we are expected to work through them.

 5. Have conversations with colleagues about them, when you feel comfortable.

 6. Be in touch! Darion offers her email again Dgriffin [at] aft [dot] org