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.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

2. Notes from David Coleman

A founder of student chievement partners, as well as Grow network. 5 years at McKinsey & Co., a Rhodes scholar and a Ph D. Described as an effective listener; chocolate example came later.

Three topics: in literacy, what are the three shifts, and what ought to be the priority. Second, assessment and curriculum. Third, the roles of others in this room.

A founding member of Student Achievement Partners, the standards authors, "a small organization." Three principles: no money from publishers of curriculum, second we will never ... [missed this .. anyone?] . Third we will not have any intellectual property of our own.

If we are serious about implementation of CCSS, we have to think about it in terms of the complicated situation that it is upon us. So ...

Key Quote:  "It is time to simplify ruthlessly. Focus on a few things that are extremely powerful." 

Be wary of perversions and unintended consequences.
Focal Point: Three shifts, they should be "like guardrails...to help avoid confusion."He is urging us to be "spokesmen."

Key Quote: "what is not needed is quantity, it is shocking excellence in quality."

1. Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction and informational texts.
Why? In elementary school, only 7-15 percent is nonfiction, it's overwhelmingly fiction. There is now a fifty fifty balance drawing heavily on Mass. as a model. The coherent foundation gained through reading widely in science and social studies as well.

Example of Federalist Papers, no. 51 -- what we often do is give the overview with the teacher summary of the main points of the text, but that lesson would be stronger aligned to the standards if the teacher shifted to focus students on a close examination of a 1 page excerpt accompanied with the heuristic what does this document say and not say about factionism? That would promote close reading and analysis, not content retention perse. as the lesson goes and students reading is driving the show, the teacher can then backfill. It means a lot more time, often with shorter pieces of text. It's really selecting text that deeply gets at knowledge, and focusing on the author's craft of "beginning well" -- such a focus "will always payoff."

2. Reading and writing grounded in evidence from text.
Think about 80/20 split -- the bulk of response should emerge through the text. Read one paragraph carefully! Read with thought and care, reference the text. Write to sources, using sources to base a response. We need students with an ability to argue and inform. This can happen in Ela, science, and social studies. That's the single shift they are urging us to adopt immediately. Gradually, the other areas will grow. This is the most important shift. Asks: what would it mean for most teachers to do something? Will they know that evidence is our watchword? If it is happening throughout our classrooms, and we're focused on the text at hand, it's going to be so much easier as they become habits. Asks us: "Can we make 'based in evidence ' a watchword?"

3. Regular practice with complex text and its academic vocabulary.
Why is it a shift? The level of text students can handle is the single biggest predictor of college success. Vocabulary needs to go beyond the domain specific and into cross-referenced words like evidence, synthesis, argument, etc.

Remember, the 12th grade NAEP reading scores have continually declined, 8th grade flatlined. See this summary for more on the variations among the grade levels and reading / writing.

Threes three are reflected in high stakes testing, and it is an obligation to make these exams worth reading and doing. Questions should be worth answering. There should be time to slow down and read carefully. Writing to sources is at the heart of this. MC passages should invite students to select the evidence that informs their choices. Fight for writing to sources. There will be a revised set of publishers criteria for curriculum writers.

Intriguing quote of the morning, for me, and something I'd like to discuss more in depth:
"Our first obligation is to make sure the assessments are worth the time." -D. Coleman

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