It’s Monday… It’s ELA Common Core Day! Tips From The Field

Happy Common Core Monday to you!  Big apologies coming from me – I have been off the radar for a couple of months.  I’m back!  

I had the pleasure of working with exemplary teachers, administrators, interventionists, and student teachers in the Northeast this week.  THANK YOU to the teachers in Albany, Hartford, Boston, Long Island, and Cherry Hill, NJ!  The following tips are their contribution:

  • Create a resource web page for your school to share teacher ideas/materials. (Haviland Ave Elem/Audubon Schools)
  • Resource: The Decoding Solution: Rime Magic and Fast Success for Struggling Readers by Sharon Zinke (Scholastic)
  • Select non-fiction together
  • Moo-o.com – record stories and watch animated playback
  • Let children use a microphone to read their writings.  They read like professionals!
  • Use Google Images on Smart Board for student background knowledge (preview first!!)
  • Text Talk: Interactive Read Aloud – a vocab-building reading program. Great books. Two of each book – one for teaching, one for your library
  • Collaborate with team as often as possible
  • Encourage students to talk and discuss
  • Read to self with timers/stop watches
  • Read to Buddy (improves fluency and expression)
  • Center Task Sheets – students check off [their accomplishments] themselves
  • Beanie Baby Decoding Strategies
  • Samsonsclassroom.com – practice on sight words, spelling, reading
  • Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers (Everything is there for you!)
  • Pinterest!!!  Having the kids “mirror” my/our objectives
  • Recorder Plus. Free APP for modulation in fluency
  • Garage Band on i-pad for intonation and fluency
  • Time to read
  • Story Wheel APP for creating stories and listening to them read back to you
  • Talking Carl [Talking Tom, etc] APPs for fluency.  Use for oral reading
  • Taxedo.com.  Word spashes like Wordle
  • DiscoveryEducation.com. Nonfiction films at various levels.
  • PBS – free nonfiction films
  • teachingchannel.com
  • Farfaria App APP.  The “Netflix” of children’s literature at a touch of a button
  • Books on tape – “Voice”
  • Resource: Comprehension Connections by Tammy McGregor.  Concrete lessons and examples given for inferences, determining importance, etc.  (Highly recommended by 2nd grade teachers at Bristol Hubbell School.)

Read aloud to your students everyday.  And until next time, share a literacy strategy!

Denise Gudwin

It’s Monday, It’s ELA Common Core Day! Today’s Tip: Step 5

It’s Monday, It’s ELA Common Core Day! Today’s Tip: Step 5: What will my students need to do, to demonstrate an understanding of this standard?  What facts should they know, what concepts should they understand, and what skills should they use?

I’ve been missing-in-action this month…  work deadlines just took over.  But now, I’m back!  

Today is a continuation of our look at Ainsworth’s (2003) work in unwrapping the standards, where we’ve focused on Steps 1, 2, 3, and 4 (out of 5). Today’s tip is Unwrapping the Standards, Step 5 (the last of the 5 steps) – What will my students need to do…

Step 5 – What will my students need to do, to demonstrate an understanding of this standard? What facts should they know, what concepts should they understand, and what skills should they use? (Ainsworth)
Facts they           should know
Concepts they should understand
Skills they           should use
Try thinking of a standard in a new way.  What facts should our students know? What concepts should they understand?  And what skills should they use?
In the sample of RL.__.2, what facts should they know?  Maybe what a key detail looks like? What concepts should they understand?  Maybe how a retell is different than a summary?  and What skills should they use?  As one teacher asked, “Is listening to the story an appropriate skill they should be able to use?” Yes!  Make it personalized for your students! 

So take a moment to think about one standard – it doesn’t have to be this one below, (see more at http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI_ELA%20Standards.pdf but think about what facts should our students know, what concepts should our students understand, and what skills should our students use – and that may truly assist you in your planning and instruction. 
 Sample of K-6 Standard RL.__.2:
Kindergarten Teachers: 
Standard RL.K.2: With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.
1st Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.1.2: Grade 1 students will retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
2nd Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.2.2: Grade 2 students will recount stories, including fable and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
3rd Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.3.2: Grade 3 students will recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
4th Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.4.2: Grade 4 students will determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

5th Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.5.2: Grade 5 students will determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
6th Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.6.2: Grade 6 students will determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

This unwrapping the standards 5-step-process should be helpful to you and your colleagues.  Remember though, you don’t have to attempt it alone.  Sit with a group of friends/colleagues to work through these 5 steps together.  It is a ton more fun that way.  It seems like a lot of extra work to do, but front-loading this will give you an understanding that will help your teaching go even more smoothly, and the benefit is for both you and your students.
Until next time, share a literacy strategy!
Denise Gudwin, Ph.D.

It’s Monday, It’s ELA Common Core Day! Today’s Tip: Step 4 of Unwrapping the Standards – Essential Questions

It’s Monday, It’s ELA Common Core Day! Today is a continuation of our look at Ainsworth’s (2003) work in unwrapping the standards, where we’ve focused on Steps 1, 2, and 3 (out of 5). Today’s tip is Unwrapping the Standards Step 4.   Next Monday, we will continue with Step 5 and then another look at the whole picture, looking at another standard… Today’s focus, Step 4 – Essential Questions.
Step 4 – Write at least one essential question derived from the unwrapped standard and the big idea. (steps from previous Monday posts)  Engage your students in the process and take them beyond the basic who, what, when, where, I liked it because…  (Ainsworth)
Before we jump into our topic, let’s look at a few examples of Essential Questions for possible themes/grades (Source: Common Core Curriculum Maps: English Language Arts, Grades K-5. Written by teachers, for Teachers. Jossey-Bass):
Kindergarten – How are the beginning, the middle, and the end of a story different from each other? (p. 13)
1st Grade – What can versions of the same story teach us about different cultures? (p. 107)
2nd Grade – Why should we support out opinions with reasons? (p. 167)
3rd Grade – Why do we hand stories down to the next generation?
(p. 209)
4th Grade – How does the author’s use of setting affect the plot of a story? (p. 281)
5th Grade – How does literature provide insight into a culture? (p. 361)
Secondary – How does learning history through literature differ from learning through informational text? (p. xvii)
Write one or two essential questions for a unit of study…
Question
Question
Kindergarten Teachers: 
Standard RL.K.2: With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.
1st Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.1.2: Grade 1 students will retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
2nd Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.2.2: Grade 2 students will recount stories, including fable and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
3rd Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.3.2: Grade 3 students will recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
4th Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.4.2: Grade 4 students will determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
5th Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.5.2: Grade 5 students will determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
6th Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.6.2: Grade 6 students will determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
Essential Questions… Take a moment to think about the relevance, usefulness, and benefit of teaching a particular unit.  You may think of it as the “so what” of the content covered… By the end of the unit, the students should be able to answer the essential question(s) with one of more possible answers.  

This reflective questioning helps us pave the way for increasing academic achievement.
Until next time, share a strategy!

Denise Gudwin, Ph.D.

It’s Monday, It’s ELA Common Core Day! Today’s Tip: Unwrapping the Standards Step 3 and Looking at the whole picture.

It’s Monday, It’s ELA Common Core Day! Today is a continuation of last week’s look at Ainsworth’s (2003) work in unwrapping the standards, where we focused on Steps 1 and 2 (out of 5). Today’s tip is  Unwrapping the Standards Step 3.  We also want to take a moment and look at the whole picture.  Ainsworth’s whole 5-step process is a very good way to get to know the Common Core Standards, so next Monday, we will continue with Step 4 and then Step 5 the following Monday, but today we are focusing on Step 3 – Determine the Big Ideas.

Step 3 – Determine the Big Ideas… What do they need to already know?  What type of literacy skills will they need to use? Is this important for my students to learn?
Need to Know
Skills to Use
How will this help my students?





First, here are the standards.  Then look below for our focus discussion:

Kindergarten Teachers: 
Standard RL.K.2: With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.
1st Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.1.2: Grade 1 students will retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
2nd Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.2.2: Grade 2 students will recount stories, including fable and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
3rd Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.3.2: Grade 3 students will recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
4th Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.4.2: Grade 4 students will determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

5th Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.5.2: Grade 5 students will determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
6th Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.6.2: Grade 6 students will determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

Take a moment to think about what your students will “need to know” to do this…   what “skills will they need to use?”  and always, the bottom line is “how will this help my students?” Ask yourselves the questions that are pertinent to your grade level, your students’ levels and the needs of your group… For example:

What do they need to know?
  • Do they need to know what retell or recount means?
  • Do they need to know how a folktale is organized?
What skills will they need to use?
  • Do they need to be able to retell or recount?
  • Do they need to be able to listen to a story, to use their listening comprehension skills?
  • Do they need to know the difference between major details and insignificant ones?
How will this help my students?
  • Will this help them during your instructional time?   
  • How?
  • How will retelling, recounting, determining theme, identifying major details help them with their achievement in reading?

And finally, let’s look at the whole picture… go back and look at how the standard builds from one grade to another, look at the Kindergarten one, and the first grade, and second grade, all the way to sixth grade or above.  It is important to see where our students are going, not just having tunnel vision looking at our current grade only.  We can see how the learning is layered.  We will look at this whole picture more in-depth in a future post, with another standard.

“ ‘Unwrapping’ the academic content standards is a proven technique to help educators identify from the full text of the standards exactly what they need to teach their students.  Unwrapped standards provide clarity as to what students must know and be able to do.  When teachers take the time to analyze each standard and identify its essential concepts and skills, the result is more effective instructional planning, assessment, and student learning  (Ainsworth, L., 2003).

Until next time, share a strategy!

Dr. Denise Gudwin