Literacy Office Hours with David Liben of Student Achievement Partners pt. 3

Get tips on how to implement Common Core ELA in your classroom.

In this webinar, David Liben of Student Achievement Partners shares his insights about bringing exceptional literacy instruction to k-12 classrooms. David is the Senior ELA/literacy Specialist at Student Achievement Partners, an organization founded by the authors of the Common Core. A principal and teacher with more than 20 years experience in the classroom, David was one of the educators closely involved in the writing of the Common Core Standards, including synthesizing the research behind Appendix A.

Implementing the Common Core: Literacy

This is the third of our series of three literacy office hours (view part 1 and part two).

You won’t want to miss his explanation of the best way to share vocabulary at minute 6:10, how literacy coaches can bridge the gap between explicitly teaching comprehension strategies (inference, visualization), and Common Core’s emphasis on close reading at minute 14:25.

 

Additional Common Core Implementation Resources:

David also shared a plethora of resources that you can access below:

 

Vocabulary

COMING SOON to the Student Achievement Partners site:  The Significance of Vocabulary in the Common Core State Standards, article by David Liben. Includes research findings about vocabulary instruction and practical exercises to help teachers learn to select and teach vocabulary.

Word Nerds: mostly geared towards elementary school but works for middle school. Great book for vocabulary. Describes how to build a culture of loving and using words in your school.

Wordly Wise: Books to support targeted direct vocabulary instruction; has Greek and Latin Roots from the same publisher.

Zaner Bloser’s Word Study Programs: Word study methods to help students understand word structure and learn new vocabulary context.

 

Text dependent questions

Student Achievement Partners: Text-Dependent Question Resources – Collection of tools to help learn to write and use text-dependent questions.  Includes short and long guides and examples.

Student Achievement Partners: Featured Lessons – 20 lessons that focus on text dependent questions to support close reading (mentioned at minute 15:40).

“Scaffolded Reading Instruction of Content Area Texts” by Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey, shows how to create text dependent questions that are aligned to the standards.

 

Text complexity

Student Achievement Partners: Text complexity resources– Collection of tools and guides to help teacher analyze the complexity of texts. Includes both quantitative and qualitative measures.

Student Achievement Partners: free webinar done along with Metametrics on how people can find texts at different levels of text complexity.

 

Curriculum evaluation

Student Achievement Partners: Instructional Materials Evaluation Tool gives a step by step description on how to evaluate materials.

Engage NY is a comprehensive site from NY State with a free Common Core aligned curriculum as well as a variety of tools and resources to help teachers and districts with Common Core. It has lessons, units etc.  In particular their elementary school literacy resources are useful. Also check out EngageNY’s Pre-K Through Second Grade ELA (mentioned at minute 25:15).

 

Parent resources

Greatschools.org terrific resources for parents. Click your grade band here (Elementary School, Middle School, High School) It is a website just for parents.

 

Science and Social Studies

Student Achievement Partners: Science and Technical Subject Lessons + History and Social Studies Lessons (mentioned at minute 12:00).

 

Additional

Structured Journals – Structured journals are a great strategy for helping kids to hold students accountable for learning from their reading. Check out these resources: Essay on use of structured journals by Meredith Liben and Example of a close reading lesson that uses the structured journal technique (mentioned in minute 13:40).

 

Lily Wong-Fillmore’s “Juicy Sentences” approach – Teaching syntax is crucially important, but often ignored.  Lily Wong-Fillmore’s “Juicy Sentences” approach represents one good approach to teaching syntax. Check out this presentation on Fillmore’s approach. Also, here is a blog post by a teacher who succeeded with her (ELL) students by using the approach.

 

Ready for more?

Check out our Writing Office hours with Joey Hawkins of Student Achievement Partners, as well as David’s first two office hours (#1) and (#2).

Assign to students: ELA

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This video is the fourth in a series of five tutorials on how to create a class, assign students Common Core content and track student progress on LearnZillion.com.

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Assign a video lesson

  1. **Note: you must first create a class on LearnZillion before assigning students content. Learn how to do this by clicking here.
  2. Find your lesson: type a lesson title, topic or Common Core standard into either of the search barsScreen Shot 2014-03-10 at 2.07.13 PM
  3. Click into the lesson you would like to assign
  4. Click the Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 2.09.32 PM button in the upper lefthand corner of the video lesson
  5. Enter a due date
  6. Choose to assign to either your entire class or individual students
  7. Click done – you have now assigned that lesson

Assign a video playlists

  1. **Note: you must first create a class on LearnZillion before assigning content to students. Learn how to do this by clicking here.
  2. Click classes in top left corner, click into your respective class.
  3. Hover over the drop-downScreen Shot 2014-03-03 at 8.27.24 PM, and click “Assignments”
  4. Click “+New Assignment”
  5. Search and filter the assignment library by grade level and subject Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 2.21.52 PM
  6. Select a playlist (a selection of videos that cover a specific standard) by hovering over said resource and clicking “select”. You can also preview each assignment before you assign it.
  7. After you select all desired assignments click the assign button Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 2.27.28 PM .
  8. Select a due date, choose the class and/or student(s) to whom you like to assign the assignment, and click done – you have now assigned that quiz and/or playlist.

Student view

When your students log in, they will see their assigned assignments. They can click into each assignment, complete it in full, or complete part, save and finish the rest later.

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Student view

Track student progress

Learn how to do this in the next video …

Addition resources

Each ELA lesson set comes with additional resources. Consider printing these out or sharing them with students. Possible resources include:

  • Anchor texts that you can download and distribute to students (most lesson sets)
  • Read aloud videos (some lesson sets)
  • Printable assessments (some lesson sets)

Access these by clicking into and/or by previewing an assignment:

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ELA lesson set page

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Click below to watch more:

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ELA Essentials: Understanding the structure and transitions of the ELA standards

Prepare for the Common Core – Webinar recording 3/04/14.

Understanding the structure of the Common Core ELA standards, particularly the connections between standards across grade-levels, is essential to crafting great lessons and implementing close reading.

Join us to explore the Common Core ELA standards and understand how to use this structure to focus your lessons, write meaningful teaching objectives, support your students by differentiating, and set them on track to college and career readiness.

Resources

  • Webinar Slides – use this to hold a discussion with colleagues about how the standards relate to their practice.
  • Common Core Navigator – use this visual guide to get a big picture understanding of the standards in your grade, vertical alignment between standards and the LearnZillion resources associated with each standard.
  • Lesson Set (4th grade) – check out this example of how a teacher has crafted a series of lessons based on targeted, standards-based teaching objectives. Find hundreds of additional lesson sets associated with your grade level through our Common Core Navigator.

Like what you see? Check out these additional resources to help you plan for the ELA Common Core standards:

(Post) 4 Tips for Aligning your ELA Lessons to the Common Core

(Webinar) Three part webinar series on close reading, pt 1: “Text Talks”

Writing, aligning, and sequencing text-dependent questions

This webinar, the second in our “Close Reading” series, models a proven strategy for crafting text-dependent questions and follows up on our earlier “Text Talk” webinar and our 6 step guide to crafting great text-dependent questions. Enjoy!

Download the resources referenced in this webinar here, including:

Like what you see?

Sign Up for the next webinar in our series,

“Crafting effective text-based writing prompts”

on Mar 11th 2014 at 4p ET.

Literacy Office Hours with David Liben pt. 2

This is the second of three office hours hosted by David. View the first office hours here.

David Liben, of Student Achievement Partners, shares a wealth of tips and resources to help prepare your students for the Common Core ELA standards.

RESOURCES

Reading Strategies and Close Reading

  • “Rethinking Reading Comprehension Instruction,”  by McKeown, Beck, and Blake, is a study that compared the effects of content instruction (using text-dependent questions) to the effects of strategies instruction, and found that content focused instruction had greater benefits.
  • Cognitive Scientist Daniel Willingham’s Blog,  presents research and describes the danger of excessive focus on comprehension strategies.

Examples of Rich Complex Text

Examples of good questioning technique:

Using Basal Readers

  • This lesson bank offers Common Core-aligned replacement lessons for basals published before the Common Core (pre-2010).
  • To learn more about or join the group that created these lessons, the Basal Alignment Project (BAP), click here.
  • There are lots of new resources that say they’re Common Core-aligned.  Use the Publisher’s Criteria to evaluate whether they are really aligned to the Standards.   If IMET is on atc we could use that as well.

Read Alouds

  • Model Read Aloud lesson for K-2 classrooms, based on the poem, The Wind, available here.
  • K-2, teachers all over the country are also working to create Common Core-aligned Read Aloud lessons, through the Read Aloud Project.  Access the resources they create or join the group through Edmodo, using the group access code: pkx52i

Volume of Reading and Vocabulary

  • Long-term reading success depends on not just close reading, but also on volume of reading.
  • This article by Marilyn Jager Adams in American Educator explains how a series of texts on related topics is the fastest way to grow the vocabulary needed to access complex text.  She also cites research by Thomas Landauer showing the powerful relationship between volume of reading and vocabulary growth.

Guided Reading

Like what you’ve seen? Sign up here for our next Literacy Office Hours on April 9th, 2014.

Also, check out our post on 4 tips for aligning your ELA lessons to the Common Core and 3 tips for approaching close reading.

Text Talks: A first step in planning for close reading

Conducting “text talks” with colleagues or your grade-level team is a fantastic start to planning for close reading. This webinar showcases proven strategies for launching successful text talks, including tips, ideas and an actionable format for diving into close reading. Enjoy!

You can also download our webinar resources here:

Like what you see?

View the next webinar in this series on Close Reading

“Writing, aligning, and sequencing text dependent questions”

4 Tips for Aligning Your ELA Lessons to the Common Core

Four impressive 2013 Dream Team teachers and coaches shared their best tips for updating ELA curriculum to fit the Common Core in a recent webinar. The result?  This handy guide for aligning your ELA lessons to the new standards.

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Idea 1. Leverage Text-Dependent Questions

Use text-dependent questions to chunk a text into more manageable pieces. Build a series of text-dependent questions to scaffold over the course of the text, allowing struggling readers to focus on just one section of the text in the beginning and work their way up toward a more holistic view. Rather than prepare many texts for different level readers, use text dependent questions to make one grade-level, model text approachable for all students.

How this helps: Deepen student exploration of text, relieve anxiety around reading, and increase classroom preparation efficiency by leveraging scaffolded text dependent questions.

Idea 2. Show the purpose behind a strategy

Actually show kids the purpose behind the strategies that you teach. Model how a strategy can be applied when approaching questions similar in nature. Watch a LearnZillion writing or close reading lesson to see how the teacher has divided the skill up into manageable steps.

How this helps: Thinking aloud and drawing connections encourages kids to own their strategies.

Idea 3. When evaluating resources, look for authentic and worthwhile texts and topics 

Select worthwhile texts that will help contribute to students’ college and career readiness. Create text sets around a common theme or topic, integrating fiction and non-fiction. This provides your students with opportunities to make connections across texts. Reading standard 7 also calls for students to interact with and evaluate different mediums (e.g. illustrations, video, and multimedia), so look for anchor and ancillary resources that together can create a cohesive set.

How this helps: Spend class time on worthwhile resources and materials that students can really “sink their teeth into.”

Idea 4. Collaborate across subject areas

Make interdisciplinary connections. The writing and reading expectations and language should be consistent for students whether they are in science, history, social studies, or English 1. Work with your colleagues to hold students responsible for applying the same lines of questioning and deep thinking whenever they’re interacting with text.  The reinforcement of close-reading and literacy standards across the curriculum provides continuity for students and an opportunity for teachers to come together and evaluate students’ strengths and areas for growth.

How this helps: Coordinating with colleagues in other disciplines establishes continuity of reading and writing expectations.

For more on aligning your ELA lessons to the Common Core check out some of our other posts on crafting text-dependent questions and tips for close reading.

If you have additional strategies you find helpful, please let us know by posting a comment below.

 

Apply to Join the 2014 Dream Team

Watch this short video to learn how to apply to the 2014 LearnZillion Dream Team.

 

LearnZillion is looking for 200 exceptional educators to join the 2014 Dream Team. If you are a teacher who wants to broaden your impact, learn from content experts, and challenge yourself in new and exciting ways, then this is the professional development experience for you. Watch this short video to learn more. Apply today at dreamteam.fluidreview.com.

Common Core Lesson Plans: Crafting Great Text-Dependent Questions for your students

This post was written by Posie Wood, LearnZillion’s Director of Professional Learning and Community.

Common Core Lesson Plans, Text Dependent Questions, Common Core

This blog post outlines steps you can take to write powerful text-dependent questions.

Text-dependent questions are one of the cornerstones of close reading. You can see them in action in our close reading lessons, each of which model asking and answering a text-dependent question. But crafting questions that are text-specific, that help your students understand the text more deeply, and that create opportunities for them to master the Common Core ELA standards is challenging and takes practice.

But first things first. What are text-dependent questions?

Text-dependent questions are questions that can only be answered by referring to the text itself. They do not necessitate outside experiences or background knowledge to be answered but they do require students to use evidence from the text to support their answers. But more than that, text-dependent questions are written in carefully sequenced sets with the goal of shepherding students towards a deep understanding of the text. Along the way, text-dependent questions should focus students’ attention on the challenging sections of the text, ideas or moments that warrant more time and exploration, major craft moves, and critical vocabulary words. For more on text-dependent questions, check out Student Achievement Partners’ text-dependent questions guide.

Here are a 6 steps you can take to craft text-dependent questions on your own:

1. Understand your text

Before you dive into writing questions, your first step is to make sure that you understand the major ideas or themes in your selected text. We’ve found it’s important to actually put this into writing to help crystalize the big takeaways that you want to make sure students get from the text. You should also identify key vocabulary words, significant craft moves, and sections of the text that are challenging or worthy of further study. Check out this post on how to analyze and understand your text in preparation for close reading.

2. List your questions (all of them)

By now, you’ve spent a lot of time with the text and are ready to start writing questions. We like to start by simply generating a long list of questions. Initially don’t worry too much about getting the exact wording or perfect number of questions. Rather, focus on capturing your ideas.

3. Answer your questions

Crafting a text-dependent question alone is not enough. Knowing what constitutes high quality response to that question is equally important, but too often, we see teachers skip this critical step. Why does it matter? Frequently, answering your own question will unveil additional layers of meaning in the text or new levels of purpose behind the author’s craft. And forcing yourself to write the answer may reveal that the ideas you really want students to explore are in fact different from, or not addressed by, the original question you wrote. As you answer your questions and get more clarity around what you actually want to ask, you should begin to revise and refine your questions.

Answering your text-dependent questions is also important because it allows you to fully experience responding to the question and will give you a window into what you’ll need to teach. As you write your answer to the question, track your own metacognition by asking yourself, “What are my students going to have to know and be able to do in order to answer this?”

4. Align and revise your questions to the ELA Common Core Standards

Next, it’s time to compare your questions and responses to the Common Core Standards for ELA to determine which standard(s) they address. See our earlier blog post on analyzing the Common Core ELA standards here. As you complete this alignment, you may see that certain questions need to be tweaked in order to really meet the standards for your grade level. You might also notice that some of your questions are too sophisticated or too simple for your grade. That’s okay. While these questions may not make the final cut, you’ll want to hold onto them in order to provide extension and scaffolding to students in the future. Make sure that your list of questions covers a range of standards and includes questions that both focus on specific parts of the text as well as consider the text as a whole.

5. Sequence and narrow your list of text-dependent questions

Great text-dependent questions come in thoughtfully sequenced sets that guide a student through the text and build from simple to complex. The best way to start sequencing your questions is to identify the one or two questions that unlock the text’s big ideas, themes, or takeaways. These should address the culminating understandings you want to make sure students come away with. Next, backwards map your questions from these ending points, cutting a clear pathway of understanding from basic levels of meaning to the abstract subtleties of the text.

6. Evaluate your text-dependent questions 

Once you have your sequenced list of questions, it’s time to do a final review to make sure your questions are text-dependent and high-quality. We use Student Achievement Partners’ Checklist of Evaluating Question Quality for this step. While it’s great practice to review your own questions, it’s even better if you can swap with a colleague to get an extra set of eyes and additional feedback on your work.

Though challenging, writing worthwhile text-dependent questions is a lot of fun and, once you start using them to help your students access complex texts hugely rewarding. To see interlocking text-specific questions in action, check out LearnZillion’s close reading lesson built from the Common Core standards in your grade.