Friday, July 6, 2012

Pathways to the Common Core

     To prepare for the switch to common core this year I have begun reading Pathways to the Common Core. I've also been reading Lucy Calkin's Curricular Plans for Reading and Writing Workshop. I love Lucy Calkin's voice in her writing. I find myself always nodding my head in agreement while I read. She has a way with language that seems to capture my thinking in such a wise way that I myself could not articulate. I can imagine her using this wise language with kids, guiding them always to keep growing as readers and writers.

Here are just a few big points from the first few chapters of this book I want to save or "make sticky".  My thinking is in the purple:)

  • "Students need to become strong writers, and to do that, they need expert instruction, time to write, and meaningful opportunities for writing a wide range of informational, argumentative, and narrative texts. They must also become proficient readers of many complex texts, and that means they need expert instruction and opportunities to read a wide range and very deep volume of texts."  Time!!! Students need time to read AND time to write. My goal for this year is to talk less and let kids read and write more. I am famous for taking a mini lesson and turn it into a MAXI lesson! 
  • "It is very possible that your readers are mostly reading for plot, grasping the gist of what they read, moving rapidly across book". Model, model, walk together through deep reading, what it looks like, sounds like. Give multiple opportunities to make meaning together through discussion so readers read to extend meaning.  
  • "Students should be doing lots and lots of in school reading. Students learn to read by reading. Watch your strong readers. One factor they have in common? They read a lot." Calkins often references time for eyes on print. I think setting up a culture or community of readers, creating a buzz in the room for reading is the #1 priority in month 1 of reader's workshop.  I want to rev up their eyes on print time at school AND at home! 
  • Other big "sticky points" are balancing fiction reading with nonfiction reading, having students provide evidence to support their thinking and placing equal emphasis on both reading and writing. 

     At the beginning of the book Calkins tells teachers to read the common core standards as if they were gold, knowing that they are not perfect. Attitude matters and I think approaching change with a positive attitude is important. Is change stressful, overwhelming, and scary? Yes, yes, and yes but I know many other teachers are going through the same challenges. I'm hoping the changes bring about lots of conversations as teachers tackle them together.

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