April 24, 2016

Moving from Standards to Lessons, Meeting the CCSS through Reading Workshop

Common Core State Standard (CCSS) 7.1 of the Reading: Literature strand states, "Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text."

So as a teacher responsible for covering the standards, what do I have to do in order to ensure my students have mastered this particular standard?
  • Do I do one minilesson on this standard and then check it off my CCSS aligned checklist to show that I have "taught" the standards?
  • Do I give a worksheet that is "aligned" to this standard, so I have "proof" that my students have been exposed to it and tried it out?
The ideas listed above could be part of what a teacher does to meet this standard, but these items alone would be nowhere near enough.  In the middle school grade level reading standards for literature and informational text, there are ten standards each.  This would technically mean that a teacher could "cover" the CCSS in twenty class periods.  We all know though that this wouldn't be enough.  My interpretation of the CCSS is that it is meant to be a circular curriculum.  What I mean by this is that teachers should be circling around to the twenty reading standards over and over and over again throughout the school year.  The amazing thing about a balanced literacy teaching framework is that it allows you to use different instructional contexts to reinforce the same standards through a variety of avenues.

Take the standard I gave in the beginning of this post, "Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.  Across the school year, my students will be exposed to this standard over and over again in a variety of instructional contexts throughout Reading Workshop.

Interactive Read Aloud: 
  • As I'm reading our daily class interactive read aloud, I may model how to form inferences for my students.  
  • I can pose a question to students asking them to respond with direct textual evidence to answer that question through a turn and talk with a partner or a whole class discussion.  
  • Before reading, I can ask students to make an inference about a character, the setting, or the plot on a sticky note while they're listening to the reading for the day.
  • While students are discussing several focus questions about the text after the read aloud is over, one of the questions I have students talk about could involve inference or finding direct textual evidence to support their thinking.
  • I can copy off a page of text from our interactive read aloud and ask students to complete a reading response with direct textual evidence to support their thinking.
Guided Reading/Literature Circles
  • During guided reading text introductions, I can model and reinforce what it looks like to make inferences and find specific textual evidence to support within the text questions.
  • While discussing and revisiting the text, I can ask students to make inferences about characters, plot, and setting.  I also always start by asking them within the text questions that require them to answer with explicit information from the text.  For guided reading lesson plan templates, click here.
  • I can assign students a writing extension to their guided reading assignment and ask them to write about inferences drawn from the text and support their thinking with specific textual evidence.
Reading Conferences
  • Reading conferences are the perfect time to discuss the book a student is reading with him/her.  During this time, I can also ask students to make inferences and model or scaffold how to make inferences.
Minilessons
  • Minilessons are when I explicitly teach the CCSS to students.  In order to form my minilesson statements, I study the standard and then ask myself how I would need students to think as readers to apply that standard while they're reading.  I'm also considering what I could have students do during the application portion of the minilesson while I'm working with guided reading/literature circle groups or holding reading conferences.
This is the part that I think is the hardest as teachers to know what to do and how to explicitly teach the standards during Reading Workshop.  I have spent a lot of time studying the CCSS and asking myself what it would look like to teach the CCSS for reading literature through Reading Workshop.  My Reading Workshop Minilessons: Teach, Assign, Assess products are available by individual lesson or in a bundle of ten products.  Each product includes a total of three minilessons.  It's an amazing resource to cover the CCSS through minilessons.  Click here to check it out on my TpT store.



Classroom Atmosphere
  • Anchor charts to remind students how readers think are an essential part of a balanced literacy classroom.

Homework

My point from listing off all the places within Reading Workshop where a teacher is able to circle back over and over the same standard is that standards are not a checklist.  We must teach our students to not see learning as a checklist.  "Covering" the CCSS means that you are constantly working a balanced literacy framework and your questioning techniques to get students thinking, speaking, engaging, and writing about text every single day.  


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