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Common Core standards

Snappy Responses on Challenging Text Debate

Last week, Valerie Strauss devoted her Washington Post space to an article challenging the idea of teaching with challenging text, including my articles. The posting got lots of response showing fundamental misunderstandings of the issues on this. I am reprinting some of those responses along with my rejoinders to those.

Handwriting in the Time of Common Core

My father, who had no more than an eighth grade education, wrote in a beautiful Palmer hand. His oneroom schoolhouse education did not promise to take him far, but it did allow him to place words on paper in an elegant and readable manner. And, this skill had practical utility beyond its aesthetic beauty, since he worked for many years as a bookkeeper.

But the public value of handwriting has diminished during the ensuing century. In fact, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) don’t even mention handwriting, cursive, or manuscript printing.

Q&A: A Closer Look at Close Reading

Q: While I understand the purpose of close-reading I don't understand why you should take the time to read deeper into a document. Some things were written simply and what we now interpret as a symbol, may not have been intended to be a symbol. How can we as readers determine what is meant to be read into and what is to be left alone?

Celebrations fit for a new school year

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer after which schools are in full swing again. Various September celebrations are ideal complements to school, community and home activities.

In 1965, September 8 was declared International Literacy Day (ILD) by UNESCO. This year, ILD was marked by presentations and discussions (on the Monday after the official ILD) featuring among others, Alma Powell representing America's Promise Alliance and Maureen McLaughlin, President of the International Reading Association.

Talk it up!

One of the goals the writers of The Common Core Standards had in mind was to build natural collaboration and discussion strategies within students, helping to prepare them for higher levels of education and collaboration in the workforce. In our Common Core classrooms today, students are being asked to incorporate multiple strategies, complex texts, and evidence-based responses. When faced with this overwhelming task, we must put many building blocks in place for our kiddos to be successful.

Grounded in evidence. Part 1: Fiction

It's funny to be a teacher! When everyone else thinks of the "New Year" starting January 1st, teachers are getting ready to start their "third quarter."" Usually about our "half-time" (aka: Winter Vacation) I enjoy reflecting on our year so far, and how I can tweak my instruction to streamline our focus. So after the presents have been opened, traditions enjoyed, and champagne and poppers cleaned up, it's always a good opportunity to sit back, and begin deciding where instruction needs to be strengthened.

Complex text ... oh, my!

I don't know about you, but implementing the Common Core has become an exciting new challenge! I am having to think about text in a whole new way.

A Smarter Balanced PARCC?

By now, it's probably not a surprise that there are two different assessments that states are adopting for their Common Core state test. Many of the comparison studies have proven that the previous state assessments tested students at levels 1 and 2 of the DOK (depth of knowledge). After disaggregating the test-released items for the Smarter Balanced and PARCC assessments, studies have shown the levels of released questions have elevated to the higher tiers: 3 and 4.

Sharpening your skills this summer and organizing them, too!

Last weekend I broke out my beach towel for the first time this year … it felt oh so incredible! I LOVE the smell of summer! Growing up in Southern California, I truly relish the summer sun, knowing that our two months off fly by. Every year, as I am taking down bulletin boards and filing my piles of papers away, I always have one thought: "this is the summer I will organize myself ahead of time, and plan like there's no tomorrow!" Anybody else have those thoughts (thumbs up)? I feel like organizing for the next year is two-fold.

Digital natives: getting connected with the Common Core

There are many pressing issues we face in schools today — one of the biggest is student engagement. We have to change with our ever-changing society. Students in the 21st century are communicating with cell phones, iPods, G-chat, social networks, video games, Skype, webcams, flip cameras, and self-published web pages; e-mail is just a small component of our students' communication toolkit.

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"Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them." — Neil Gaiman