Thursday, June 14, 2012

Baby Steps with CCSS

CCSS, or Common Core State Standards, is proving to be a challenge for me even before they are officially implemented. I am grateful, however, that this is a positive challenge.

I hope to do my action research next year on literature circles with use of CCSS. The head of my department has been very helpful in helping me find and choose good YA literature to possibly work with. I knew though that I should figure out what I was going to do with these books before I started reading them.

You must understand how hard this has been for me. I have a lovely pile of brand new YA books waiting for me and I can't read them! Torture! But doing the research first has really paid off.

For one thing, I found this really great blog. It's called The Latest in Common Core. Not only does it have a very clean, modular layout, it's really full of links to great articles explaining CCSS and subject-specific lessons and ideas. I got a ton of great information by following links from The Latest in Common Core, but today I'll just share one. Sadly, I lost the original source. :( Makes me even feel bad about sharing it, but I'll post it later if I find it.

This particular article is called A Guide to Creating Text Dependent Questions for Close Analytic Reading. (Kind of a mouthful, eh?) Anyway, it gave me some very specific step-by-step instructions for writing good, CCSS-based questions for reading guides. When I started reading the first book in my pile, Matched by Ally Condie, I was able to immediately start thinking with a CCSS brain. I did research about the book with everyone's favorite site SparkNotes and found that Matched has been compared to The Giver by Lois Lowry. I immediately got some notable quotes from The Giver so when I found a comparable passage in Matched I could make note of it. Plus, I followed the guide's steps for creating those text-dependent questions. Just in case you're wondering what that exactly means, it means that students aren't just going to answer questions about what happens in a book. Those questions are fine, even necessary for some level of comprehension, but to stop there means that most students will never truly interact with a text. Text-dependent or analytic questions require them to reference the text and maybe even other texts to formulate their response.

Enough rambling, here are the six steps with some of my own notes:

Step One: Identify the Core Understandings and Key Ideas of the Text
Step Two: Start Small to Build Confidence
The opening questions should be ones that help orientate students to the text
Step Three: Target Vocabulary and Text Structure
Locate key text structures and the most powerful academic words in the text that are connected 
to the key ideas and understandings
Step Four: Tackle Tough Sections Head-on
Step Five: Create Coherent Sequences of Text Dependent Questions
Step Six: Identify the Standards That Are Being Addressed
Step Seven: Create the Culminating Assessment

So far I'm not only really enjoying reading Matched, I'm enjoying killing two birds with one stone and developing a lot of my higher-level questions as I go. Plus, I think it's making me read the text with a closer eye. Mission accomplished!

The question remains, will it work with the students?
We'll see!

No comments:

Post a Comment