Many teachers find it daunting to help students deal with informational texts with the regularity that brings confidence and skill. It is important for students to read longer, more complicated texts and primary source documents; however, small daily doses can also be a strategy for student success with informational texts. Today, I am sharing an idea to incorporate these texts into a short, daily warm-up activity.
The Great Gatsby is widely-regarded as one of the great American novels and many of us teach it every year to secondary students who seem to instantly get the feeling of lost dreams, the feeling of being "within and without" and the feeling that the American Dream is too good to be true.
With a push in the common core to incorporate more informational texts and a teenage audience that is becoming more globally aware than any previous generation, I have found that using high quality magazines in the classroom can help capture young minds in relevant reading and writing. I especially like The New Yorker, but the same strategies below can be used for Time Magazine, National Geographic, your local newspaper, or many other options. (Be sure to vet articles carefully and get approval where appropriate.) Many newspapers and some magazines also have an educator's discount! Below are some ways that I'm using magazines in my classroom. I'd love to hear your questions, comments, or suggestions below!
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Common Core Reference Guides give teachers a smart tool for creating Common Core aligned lessons and assessments.
Simply Novel, www.simplynovel.com, known for superior-quality standards-based Common Core Literature and Writing Guides for Grades 3-12, today announced the release of the entire line of SmartFlip™ Common Core Reference Guides for English Language Arts for grades 2-12. These handy spiral-bound flip books include the Common Core State Standards in their basic form along with each standard broken down into easily understandable, “translated” guidelines for CCSS skill mastery, culminating in hundreds of question stems and prompts, standard-by-standard, designed to enable teachers to easily create lessons and assessments with the question types required by Common Core standards, and found in PARCC and Smarter Balanced Assessments.
Today, I am excited to bring you a tip for using google presentations to create classroom engagement and collaboration. This idea is a combination of a project that a colleague of mine has done for years, the inspiration of Catlin Tucker's vocabulary instruction (she is really amazing), plus of course, my deep seated love of socratic seminar, novel study, and google drive (full tutorial here)! This project puts ownership in the hands of students and frees up a lot of my time for meaningful writing feedback instead of a ton of prep for teaching a novel. Check out the Youtube video below for the specifics of my project:
I love teaching narrative writing to high school students! I get so busy emphasizing effective argumentation and exposition, that narrative writing always seems like a breath of fresh air and a chance for students to get creative! Here are my tips for teaching the common core narrative writing standards:
Two important revolutions have come together to make online source credibility testing an important skill to teach our students:
- The Common Core emphasizes research and informational texts.
- Our students have incredible access to online sources.
Even though most of my students walk around all day with the internet in their pockets, they do not know innately how to determine the credibility of a source for my research paper, infographics, and other assignments. More alarmingly, they consistently report bad habits including the use of fast information sources that they know are not reliable and the use of copy/paste functions to get homework done in a hurry. In order to send students into college and into the world with valid research habits, I consciously teach students a checklist to determine the credibility of a source. I go through the list with them a few times and make them use it regularly in the hope that they will internalize the information for future use. Here is my credibility check list:
As we continue to grow in our common core competencies and take on new informational texts, we need tools to help students read closely and analyze texts that may be outside of their fiction plot structure comfort zone (and ours!). At a conference many years ago, I picked up a valuable strategy called the arch method, which I believe can do just that. I learned it from Valerie Stevenson who is a high school English teacher from San Diego, accomplished conference speaker, and incredible fount of knowledge. Originally, I used it as a way to help AP students answer prose analysis prompts, but with the common core emphasis on informational texts at all levels, I want to show you how it is an appropriate and valuable tool for all of our classes.
Both formative and summative assessments play important roles in the learning outcomes of our students. In any given unit of study, as teachers we check our Common Core standards, map out our benchmarks and embark on the journey. However, if you are like me and you've been doing this for a while, sometimes our favorite assessments deserve a second look to make sure that they are lining up with the Common Core. If you are in the market for Common Core aligned resources, check out this article to be sure you are getting what you pay for!