Friday, April 6, 2012

Common Core...thinking deeply

Alright...I am anxiously awaiting my copy of Pathways to the Common Core by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, and Christopher Lehman (sample chapter is provided at this link). I have reread the sample chapter provided three times.  Pathetic...I know.  I am a person who enjoys change if prepared for a change.  I don't jump in with both feet.  I am the one who sits on the side of the pool, tests the waters with my toes, sits back and takes in the sun, and then dips the toes again.

Pause to Save:  "But it's very possible that your readers are mostly reading for plot, grasping the gist of what they read, moving rapidly across books, but not really working on their reading.  And it may be that the comprehension work that second-grade readers are doing is not all that different than the work sixth graders are doing." (Page 19)

Pause to Think: The authors go on to talk about making sure that the same strategies are not being recycled year after year.  I was thinking about my classroom and the strategies that were being recycled just within my classroom...the ones that the students were constantly using at a surface level in their Reader's Notebooks or while jotting.  It was the famous... "My character feels ______ because ___________" and " My character is _________ because ____________."  I decided to do a mini-lesson on thinking deeply about a character...moving beyond feelings and traits.  We had discussed beyond this in previous discussions, but I was not seeing it in their writing about reading.  So...we moved to...evaluating....examining closely and judging carefully.

I used the book, Goal, by Mina Javaherbin.  It focuses on friends in South Africa who earn a new federation-size soccer ball and reveals their encounter with a crew of bullies.  We used the text as a springboard to evaluating the decisions made by the friends.  I gave them a graphic organizer to glue in their Reader's Notebook.  We used this graphic organizer to examine the character's actions, decisions, and motivations closely.  We also debated and judged carefully why the characters were making the choices they were and how their decisions impacted the group.  We also were able to compare and contrast soccer in the United States with soccer in South Africa.  There is a section at the end of the book that explains the cultural importance of several words or actions in the book.

Having the time to think deeply, jot down thoughts, discuss and debate, strengthened our conversation.  The students noticed that their first thoughts often were the springboard to developing their most important thought.  I also saw an increase in participation when debating since their thoughts were right there in front of them.  Can't wait to see if anyone chooses this strategy as they are reading or when writing about reading!

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