Welcome friends, to the first post in a summer professional development blog book club! WOW! That was a really long title.
If you are new, you can read more about what our goals are and such by clicking HERE. Regardless of how you came to be here, I hope you will read over the post and share your thought/ideas/counter-arguments in the comments section below. Also keep in mind that each host will present the information in the format that best fits their writing style. :)
Also, a reminder here, instead of at the end so I don't interrupt your thoughts after you have read and put your thoughts together for your response/discussion. Chapter 2 will be posted next Monday (6/17) over at Teaching to Inspire in 5th.
Jennifer Findley will be the host for that discussion.
Let's get started. I can't wait to "hear" what you have to say about this eye-opening, head-shaking chapter.
I can tell you that after the first few paragraphs, I felt like I was back in my master's classes reading those crazy textbooks. I was worried that I had selected a bummer book and everyone would hate it. I kept reading, and I was rewarded. Underneath the often 'academic' vocabulary, lies some real gems of insight and knowledge.
My format for this chapter will be:
-Give a brief summary (for those who don't have the book and to refresh the memory of those are are reading along)
-Quotes of Interest (quotes, thoughts, sentences, and paragraphs that stood out in my mind)
-Questions/Thoughts for discussion (If you will copy and paste the question in the comment section, then all the replies will be under that question/topic. OR, start a topic of your own and those making comments can use the "reply" link to keep ideas together. Hope that made sense)
In chapter 1, P. David Pearson and Elfrieda H. Hiebert give an overview of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). A history of how the standards came into existence is explained.
Next, they move on to explain the four major differences in the CCSS from other reforms/movements.
1) Close and Critical Reading
2) Integration of Language Processes and Disciplinary Content
3) Media/Research Literacy
4) Text Complexity
Close and Critical Reading-
- The phrase "close reading" has been around for a long time. One point that was made clear is that the outcomes of close reading are NOT appreciating the text structure and the author's craft. It is simply knowledge.
- Close reading is meant to occur both within and across texts.
- Multicultural contributions and perspectives in literature are not diminished or eroded as a "cost" of implementing close reading.
- We read closely to acquire knowledge, we gain knowledge, and we gain knowledge by connecting it to what we know, so we must know about something before we can "close read" to gain the knowledge.
- Two major points must be understood to help students gain knowledge and insight from reading:
- 1) We as teachers need to help students set a purpose for reading and making connections in the reading that is done.
- 2) Students must be taught and given the opportunity to review key ideas and themes from the literature they are reading.
- Helping students WATCH their knowledge change and grow is the ultimate goal of close reading.
Integration of Language Processes and Disciplinary Content:
- The CCSS clearly explain that language arts is no longer a stand alone subject. It should be taught across all disciplines.
- It is problematic that each discipline has a variation of text structure making it very difficult for students to find consistency between disciplines.
- Science tends to lend it self best to cross-curricular instruction. There is much evidence to support this statement.
- Social studies has had very little study done about cross-curricular instruction due to the fear of backlash about "whose values and whose history is being taught".
- A study was conducted using social studies instruction in low-income 2nd grade class. One class received social studies instruction plus comprehension strategy lessons. One class received the standard social studies curriculum, and one class received no social studies instruction. The classroom that had the "plus" instruction performed as well as the social studies only group, however they scored higher in the reading comprehension component.
- For integration to take place changes must happen OUTSIDE the classroom. State departments, districts, and department/school level changes.These changes include:
- Achieving clarity on major curricular themes
- Literature/texts/tasks need to be selected with the major themes in mind
- Starting with science due to the number of research reports and resources available to school. This will provide a model for other disciplines.
Research and Media:
- Our digital-global age makes knowledge available in ways previous generations never dreamed of
- Students need to be able to be good "consumers" of media (gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and report on print and nonprint media.
- A clear distinction between knowledge acquisition and knowledge communication is not clearly explained in the CCSS.
- There are currently very limited resources to help educators teach/understand the goal of the CCSS in this area.
- Project-Based learning is the hot-button issue that is being quoted as a solution in helping students achieve proficiency in this area of the CCSS.
- Two suggested ways to support media and research proficiencies include:
- Support students in using multiple resources to answer compelling questions
- Teach students to organize information that is learned and to develop a way to share that information with others
- Students are expected to read more complex texts that their past peers.
- More rigorous reading standards have been implemented starting in 2nd grade in the hopes that in 5-6 years, high school seniors will be able to read college level texts.
- The writers of the CCSS promised multiple ways to measure text complexity, yet only one source has been provided at this time- the Lexile framework.
- The grade by grade staircase of expected proficiency set the CCSS apart from previous documents.
- There are two major assumptions in the CCSS regarding text complexity and the research to support the ramp-up on reading levels. These are:
- The reading ramp-up trajectory itself
- expectations about struggling readers
- Mainly, if they are having a hard time reading at the current levels, how will they ever keep up when asked to read ever harder texts
- There are not many texts currently aligned to the new grade band reading requirements
- Teachers need to work hard and find appropriate texts that fit in their new reading complexity reading band.
- Guidelines for three groups are given:
- State/District Level:
- Reading Programs/Texts are generally chosen at this level. This choice will affect the ability of teachers to use those programs to effectively teach text complexity.
- School Level:
- Realize that the exemplar texts outlined in the CCSS are listed without reason as to why they are listed or what makes them fit the complexity criteria. Thus teachers must select texts that will provide anchor points during the year (quarter/semester) in the grade or grade band.
- Classroom Level:
- Help students understand and appreciate the vocabulary in fictional and information texts and how they differ.
- Allow students to pursue topics that interest them
- Ensure that students read more (volume) and longer (stamina)
The rest of this chapter was devoted to sharing the conundrums, dilemmas, and unanswered questions created by the CCSS.
-Upping the Ante on Text Complexity
- The CCSS specifically wants higher reading levels for each grade starting in grade 2. However, how can we expect struggling readers to want to try harder just because we raise the standard.
- Same problem happened in 1990 when standards movement came to be. It was believed that "if we make it harder, teachers, students, and schools will rise to meet the challenge". It didn't work. A missing component had to be added, professional development for teachers, which came at a huge price tag.
- Increased reading levels will not come with out teacher scaffolding and training in knowledge of text and language.
-We Already Do That!
- A common response to change is to align the change to what we already do and then state that we "are already doing that". This is a dangerous attitude in regards the the CCSS. If a state lines up the CCSS with their current Language Arts curriculum, they will be tempted to say they are meeting most if not all the goals. States must study the "logic" of the CCSS. They will find an integration component that is present in few, if any, current curricula of any state.
-Bait and Switch
- The CCSS recently published a "Publishers Criteria" which causing alarm among some. The criteria given to the publishers diminishes the "promised" freedom at the local level on what texts, etc. to use. This causes a promise of local control in the CCSS, and then takes it away in the Publishers Criteria.
- The tests seem to end up being more important than the material they were designed to measure.
- The fear that teaching to the test will continue or increase as the consequences for poor scores becomes more and more heightened.
- "Test score pollution" (an increase or decrease in a student's score without any accompanying learning due to 'test prep') is a major concern.
- Simple Multiple-choice tests will not be enough to measure the CCSS requirements. It will take constructed response and performance tasks to really show understanding and help eliminate "teaching to the test" mentality.
QUOTES OF INTEREST:
(p. 2) "...the CCSS are not intended to define all that can or should be taught; the standards are not intended to be a curriculum..."
(p. 3) "...the CCSS provide a core set of expectations and intentionally leave much to districts, schools, and teacher to figure out for themselves..."
(p. 7) "Despite its emphasis on disciplinary knowledge, the CCSS, have not necessarily done a better job of identifying the content of literature than previous documents or, for that matter, literature anthologies available in the marketplace. In emphasizing disciplinary knowledge, however, the CCSS ope the way for educators to attend to the critical content that is part of the disciplines, including the humanities"
(p. 9) "For most teachers, project-based learning will be a challenging venture."
(p.11) "Regarding the plight of struggling readers, what makes us think that the current population of struggling readers, for whom the goal of grade-level texts is elusive, will suddenly master texts that far outstrip their reading level just because we have asked them to try harder?"
(p. 12) "Even the chance to select from among two or three texts can increase student' engagement as readers"
(p. 13) "The validity and efficacy of the CCSS, as with all previous standards efforts, will depend not so much on the goals they promote but on the degree to which they are implemented in a way that supports and defines excellence, so that they actually do promote more equitable achievement rather than just provide another opportunity for us to demonstrate to ourselves what we have known for all too long: that we, as a profession and a nation, are much better at advancing the achievement of those students least in heed of our help."
(p. 17) "We believe that it is the stakes that attached to a test, not its content or format, that propel the counterproductive teaching-to-the-test syndrome that we all complain about but continue to enact annually in our schools."
QUESTIONS/THOUGHTS FOR DISCUSSION
(Each of these has been posted as an individual comment. If/when you see a discussion point you would like to respond too, Or, to see the current dialogue taking place, click on the COMMENTS link at the bottom of the this post. I would love to have you join in the discussion, even if you didn't read the book/chapter!)
- What is your reaction to the challenges surrounding text complexity, which seems to be the single biggest issue brought out in this chapter?
- Do you agree with the authors that students are poor consumers of digital and print media? Why or why not? Examples?
- What are your thoughts about how to strengthen students ability to better integrate print and nonprint sources of information.
- Do you think that districts and schools will have a chance to really put their own "signature" (p. 3) on the CCSS in relation to their own needs?
- What are your feelings about those struggling readers that now must read harder and more complex texts?
- What are your thoughts about finding grade appropriate texts that match the new, more rigorous reading levels?
- What is your understanding of your states view of the CCSS? Do they view them as the curriculum or simply a guide to help better teach the current content?
- Did you learn anything new about the CCSS from this section?
- Other thoughts/points/questions to discuss?
As you respond to these questions, please use the "reply" link so that all discussion around a particular point are grouped together. If you are addressing a particular comment/person, please use the "@" symbol and the persons name so they know you are responding to them, if needed.
Also, please kindly remember that we are all professionals with different ideas, views, and opinions. Please be respectful in your discussions. It's okay to disagree, but it is not okay to use vulgar or disrespectful language. And now...
LET'S TALK ABOUT THIS! WAHOO!
(Don't forget to use those social media buttons- let's get as many teacher voices as possible involved in this dialogue about best practices surrounding the Language Arts portion of the common core!)