Monday, October 27, 2014

Close Reading and Academic Vocabulary - Interacting With Text

This morning, I am presenting here is Los Angeles to a group of educators that were selected to be part of the Instructional Leadership Corps (ILC), which is a collaborative partnership among the California Teachers Association, the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, and the National Board Resource Center at Stanford. Teachers have traveled from all over California to be part of this amazing project.
The ILC will provide professional development support to assist teachers in the implementation of the Common Core Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts and Mathematics and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for California Public Schools. I am not only a selected participant, but also a presenter for a session. My session is on Close Reading and Academic Vocabulary. 

Presentation materials for this session

Close Reading Strategies for The Common Core 

Close Reading is a way to teach analytical reading and critical thinking in one lesson. Close reading is the foundation for all explicit and rhetorical reading exercises that demand a deeper understanding of literary works. Close reading can be presented in a simple form for students starting out and progressively advanced to a highly complex analyses of advanced literary concepts suited for graduate students. Close reading and critical thinking plus higher order questioning go hand in hand. 

Text Complexity

Definition: Text Complexity includes three components, qualitative dimensions, quantitative measures, and reader and task considerations.

Qualitative refers to meaning, structure, text features, clarity of the language, and the intended purpose of the text.

Quantitative refers to word frequency, sentence length and text cohesion. To get a sense of the difficulty of school texts, you have a measure on your computer called the Flesch-Kincaid.  This is a tool that is designed to show if a text is easy or difficult to read.  When using this tool, you will receive a readability formula called Lexiles.

Reader and task considerations refer to the students’ cognitive abilities and skills, motivation, prior knowledge, and content/theme considerations.

Strategies for teaching complex text: 
  • Challenge students to struggle with the text.
  • Encourage use of context clues and structural analysis of vocabulary.
  • Teach the reading/writing connection by having students practice variations in their writing to match the complexities of what they are reading.Model and teach critical thinking skills to understand complex text.
  • Adjust instruction to accommodate reading issues as students read more complex text.
  •  Encourage independent reading outside the classroom to increase comprehension and vocabulary.

Additional Resources: 

Tales with a Message, Unlocking and Exploring Folktales - Educator's Guide with Close Reading embedded

Academic Vocabulary

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Teaching challenges in Common Core when planning for English language Learners

The last two months, I have been planning my units of study and making sure that I meet the needs of all my students. Every year I have a class that is composed of at least 90% ELLs, hence ensuring that I meet their needs is essential. Here are a few resources and instructional strategies I have been incorporating in my lesson plans and overall units of instruction. 

Culturally Responsive Teaching Instructional Strategies:

  • Think aloud - Teacher reads passages and models thought processes for students on how to ask themselves questions as they comprehend text. 
  • Reciprocal questioning - Teachers and students engage in shared reading, discussion, and questioning with the goal being to help students learn to ask questions of themselves about the meaning they are constructing as they read. 
  • Interdisciplinary units - Recommended that teachers include and connect content learning with language arts and culturally diverse literature. Topics drawn from children’s lives and interests (sometimes from curriculum) demonstrate how to make connections across the curriculum through culturally relevant literature. 
  • Scaffolding - Teacher explicitly demonstrates the difference between what students can accomplish independently and what they can accomplish with instructional support. 
  • Journal writing gives students opportunities to share their personal understandings regarding a range of literature in various cultural contexts that inform, clarify, explain, or educate them about culturally diverse societies. 
  • Character study journals permit students to make their own personal connections with a specific character as they read a story. 
  • Open-ended projects allow students to contribute at their varying levels of ability and explore a topic of interest drawn from their readings of culturally rich literature. Artifacts, including writings, poems, and/or letters, from students’ lives or culture can represent an ethnic or cultural group. 
  • Cross-cultural literature discussions groups - Students discuss quality fiction and nonfiction literature that authentically depicts members of diverse cultural groups. 
  • Character reading - Students form opinions about a specific issue or cultural concept put forward in the text or respond to a significant event that occurred during the character’s life. 

Click on the below links for resources to tailor your lessons to fit the needs of your classroom.
Colorín is the leading national website serving parents and educators of English language learners (ELLs) in Grades PreK-12.

In this classroom clip, Albuquerque teacher Ali Nava leads her students through an interactive reading of the end of "Burro's Tortillas."

"Persuasion Across Time and Space" This intermediate unit (7th-8th grade) shows instructional approaches that are likely to help ELLs meet new standards in English Language Arts. The lessons address potent literacy goals and build on students’ background knowledge and linguistic resources. Built around a set of famous persuasive speeches, the unit supports students in reading a range of complex texts.

Kindergarten through Fifth Grade Unit Guides (Level 1-5) Activities for English Language Learners 

Visit my NEA Greater Public Schools (NEA GPS Network) site to join me in a conversation about these resources. By providing me with feedback, it allows me to see what other educators across the nation are doing to meet the needs of our diverse population of students.
This site is free and its the largest professional learning community in the nation. Click on the link HERE to take you there.