Saturday, September 22, 2012

Common Core...evidence and OREOs

Now that we are reaching October and the school year feels like "full speed ahead"...I am sure it is the Oreo part in the title that caught your attention!  I can always infer how teachers are feeling in our building based on the level of my candy tin (evidence #1), based on the number of teachers standing around it (evidence #2), and how open they are about how often they visit the tin even if I am not there (evidence #3)!  In fact, it is becoming more and more apparent that the Common Core has shifted my thinking toward evidence.

One of the instructional shifts that the Common Core is bringing to the forefront is grounding our students' reading, writing, and speaking with evidence from the text...from kindergarten classrooms using prompting and supporting to respond to questions about key details in a third grade using the text as the basis for answers to demonstrate fifth grade quoting accurately when drawing inferences from the is all about the text.  The text is put to center stage since it is the one thing all readers have in common during conversations.

In order to make this shift in our teaching and in our classroom discussions, it is all about the OREO.  I came across a blog (check it out for the full acronym), written by a kindergarten teacher, that uses this acronym for encouraging students to think deeply when writing persuasive pieces.  Then I got to thinking... we could nudge our students to deeper thinking in conversations using this same model.  The thought process is very similar...

"What are you thinking?" (opinion)
"Why are you thinking that?"
"How does your thinking connect back to the text? (evidence)
"Tell us more"(evidence)
"So what are you thinking now?"

I was in a third grade classroom modeling this thinking with the book, The Sweetest Fig.  Students had jotted their thoughts down in their notebooks and we were examining thoughts that we could think deeply about.  By thinking about the OREO in my head, I was able to nudge the students to not accept their first statement as their only thought...but to see how grounded it was.  Here is an example of one student's response...

T: What are you thinking?
S: I think the owner is just mean.
T: Why are you thinking that?
S: Did you see the way he pulled the leash real hard?!?!
T: We did (and I pointed to it in the text). Tell us more.
S:  The poor animal was not even allowed to bark.
S2: Yes, the owner was very clean and fussy.
T:  We did hear that (and I turned to that part) So what are you thinking now?
S: I do not think Bibot is a person who should own a pet.

T= teacher   S= student

This acronym is a great tool to keep in your back pocket to support grounding our thinking in evidence and to support students in having conversations, not just reporting an answer.  It encourages the process of supporting with evidence in our conversations with the class, with book partners, and when we are engaged independently in a text.  Of course, eating an OREO while reading is great too!

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