A couple of weeks ago, I (Beth) attended a presentation by Carol Jago, author of (among others) Papers, Papers, Papers and With Rigor for All, both of which influence my classroom teaching and coaching. Jago began that presentation revealing she is an ardent supporter of Common Core State Standards because of their rigor and sensibility. She reminded us that CCSS developed out of a need to help students better prepare for college and career; the standards, in fact, were backwards mapped, from College and Career Readiness (CCR) expectations back to Kindergarten. Why? As she stated, 43% of first year college students are required to take remedial classes, mostly in reading and in math, before they can even begin to earn college credits. 43% is a few pieces of pumpkin pie! Creating graduated standards that reach such expectations provides a pathway to teaching and learning, ultimately to CCR.
Further in the presentation, Jago shared a reading activity with us: she projected a black & white image by sociologist photographer Lewis Hine revealing two young boys standing on a textiles machine. Jago simply asked: “What’s the photographer’s claim?” Immediately, we individually brainstormed ideas. In another minute or so, Jago asked, “What’s the evidence to support your claim?” and again we busily scribbled. She directed us to talk in our table group and share our thoughts. We eventually reported out to the whole group. In five minutes or less, we had made progress on CCSS RI.1/RL.1/RH.1 and we used a photograph (non-print media) to do so, something our students will need to do on the looming Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA).
In addition, we followed what could be either an English Language Arts or Literacy in History/Social Studies path and read a short informational article, an excerpt from a Senate hearing on Child Labor Laws followed by a piece of literary text: “The Chimney Sweep,” a poem by William Blake. We discussed the claim the author makes in each piece of text then compared them and finally added comparison to the photo (Venn Diagram anyone?). For another media extension, Jago shared a short YouTube video, which offered another piece of “text” for students to consider before attempting a performance task:
A teacher could use the activity while studying the Industrial Revolution, studying poetry, or pairing it with literature. The underlying instructional strategy (compare/contrast) is research-based, one of Robert Marzano’s essential nine.
I’ve broken the activity into parts and included them below:
Regardless of your taste for CCSS, we hope this blog can be of assistance to you. We appreciate the guidance you provided by responding to our survey a few weeks ago, and the plan is to address those areas you cited most important. We’re just underway, but we fully expect to populate the pages as we (including you) create and share useful resources. Join us on the “coaches corner” journey and perhaps you’ll learn a thing or two; we fully expect to!