In yesterday’s post, we discussed conversation as one of the important needs that we, as teachers, must work to address in our classrooms. Conversation has many positive side effects, one of which leads directly to the second learning need that must be tended in the era of Common Core instruction: Engagement.
With the Common Core, schools have been scrambling to purchase “grade level complex text” to align with reading standard ten. In addition, there has been a great deal of conversation about close reads and text-based questions. As teachers dig into their instruction for this year and work to implement the Common Core, the expectation is that these things will be evident in their lesson planning. But we caution you, how you present this to children is everything.
As we plan instruction, we can think about our students and what we know about how they like to learn. What gets them to sit up and pay attention? Will we deliver those text-based questions on a worksheet and ask that students work quietly at their seats until they finish the last question or will we pair them with a partner and invite them to play a game of “Prove It” as we send them back into the text to find all of the sentences that would help a reader conclude that “Charlotte is wise.” Will we plop grade level complex text in front of struggling readers and simply say, “I’m sorry, they said you have to read this.” Or will we make the text accessible by building background knowledge through read aloud and shared reading?