In my last blog Are English Language Arts Teachers Ready? I address one instructional shift, Shift 3: Staircase of Complexity, ELA teachers will need to make in order to wholly address the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and attend to college and career readiness. I’ll continue that conversation by moving to Shift 4: Text-Based Answers. What do students do before, during and after they have read complex text? What does accountable talk look like? What does purposeful conversation sound like?
As part of EngageNY’s video series around these instructional shifts, Senior Fellow for Educator Engagement & The Common Core Kate Gersen, New York State Commissioner of Education John B. King, Jr. and Common Core Contributing Author David Coleman discuss what this shift means at the classroom level.
With this instructional shift, we would expect to see less conversation relying on text to self connections and a shift toward text to text and text to world connections. When we consider classroom talk that is less rigorous, we would expect to hear students talking about text primarily through personal opinions and experiences. In rigorous conversation we would hear students discussing text by staying close to the text. Students need to be provided opportunities to have rich and rigorous conversations that are dependent on complex texts.
We want students to become masters at making connections across multiple texts like in reading standard RI.6.9 where students are asked to compare and one author’s presentation of events with that of another. For instance, in Appendix B of the CCSS document, John Steinbeck’s Travel with Charley: In Search of America and Elizabeth Partridge’s This Land Was Made For You and Me: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie have been identified as exemplar informational text for grades 6-8. These texts could be compared and contrasted because both Steinbeck and Guthrie wrote about twentieth-century America and its identity. What academic dialogue and writing opportunities might the teacher plan for to facilitate these comparisons and contrasts?
When making comparisons and contrasts, we want to have students going back to the text to support their responses. We want them to make connections back to the text by referencing words, lines, passages, and page numbers to sharpen that skill of showing where the connections are being made. Valuing evidence is a skill college and career ready students possess.
College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening state that for students to become college and career ready, they must have ample opportunities to take part in a variety of rich, structured conversations … built around important content in various domains. They must be able to contribute appropriately to these conversations, to make comparisons and contrasts, and to analyze and synthesize a multitude of ideas in accordance with the standards of evidence appropriate to a particular discipline. Whatever their intended major or profession, high school graduates will depend heavily on their ability to listen attentively to others so that they are able to build on others’ meritorious ideas while expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
What shift(s) have you made in your thinking about text-based responses in service of readiness? What strategies might you use to increase rigorous classroom communications?