By Renee M. Burnett, Auddie Shippee Mastroleo, and Jill Fendt
Spending a week in a hotel during summer sounds like a great vacation, right? Well, we did, but it wasn’t a vacation. In August, the Network Team traveled to Albany and received training from Core Knowledge and Expeditionary Learning, two contractors for NYSED’s new P-5 ELA modules.
The K-2 modules (soon to be known as the New York Language Arts or NYLA) are being developed and supported through Core Knowledge. The modules presented at the training consist of the Core Knowledge Listening and Learning strand, focusing solely on the read-aloud experience for students in these grades. The domains that are currently available for each level are as follows:
|Kindergarten||Nursery Rhymes and Fables; Plants; Stories|
|First Grade||Different Lands, Similar Stories; Fables and Stories; Fairy Tales|
|Second Grade||Fighting for a Cause; Fairy Tales and Tall Tales; Cycles in Nature; Greek Myths; Insects; Charlotte’s Web I; Charlotte’s Web II|
More domains will be added in the first few months of the 2012 fall semester as they become available.
Districts have the option of adopting, adapting, or referring to these modules as they examine local curricula and alignment to the Common Core. A key consideration for teachers and schools at the K-2 level is to recognize and act on this opportunity to scrutinize how read-alouds are executed. For example, a district, school, or team may ask the following questions:
- How are the texts for read-alouds chosen?
- With what purpose are read-alouds conducted?
- Are current read-aloud practices based on what research tells us is best practice?
- Is the text meeting the demands of the rigor required of the Common Core?
- What extension activities accompany our read-alouds to provide repeated exposure to the concepts and vocabulary under study?
- What resources (both professional and classroom) are available to us for read-alouds?
- What training will teachers need to implement or support effective read-aloud instruction?
Capitalizing on the listening comprehension of our K-2 students is time well-spent. It builds and enriches the content knowledge of our students; and who doesn’t think that is a good idea? Anyone?
Expeditionary Learning (EL) was awarded the task of creating a Common Core aligned ELA curriculum plan for grades 3-5. These curriculum plans focus on one portion of ELA instructional time: an hour long block of whole group instruction. Each module in the plan further focuses on several Common Core and Race to the Top tenets:
- Text complexity demands which increase over the course of the year and reflect the high level of complexity required of the Common Core
- Students engaged in close reading of short and extended complex texts with a decreasing degree of teacher support
- Text-dependent questioning techniques which illicit text-based evidence in students’ oral and written responses
- Short and extended research opportunities
- On-going and embedded formative assessment within the units for practicing data driven instruction
- Increasing interaction with informational texts while building knowledge in the content areas. The curriculum topics for each grade level are as follows:
|Grade 3||Module 1: Becoming a Close Reader and Writing to Learn: The Power of Reading Around the World|
|Modules 2A & 2B (choose one): Researching to Build Knowledge and Teaching Others: Adaptations and the Wide World of Frogs; Researching to Build Knowledge and Teaching Others: Explorers and Countries around the World|
|Module 3A & 3B (choose one): Considering Perspectives and Supporting Opinions: Staging Stories; Considering Perspectives and Supporting Opinions: Animals in Folktales, Myths, and the Real World|
|Module 4: Gathering Evidence and Speaking to Others: The Role of Freshwater around the World|
|Grade 4||Module 1: Becoming a Close Reader and Writing to Learn: Native Americans in New York|
|Modules 2A & 2B (choose one): Researching to Build Knowledge and Teaching Others: The Hardship of Colonial Times and How Electricity Has Changed our Lives; Researching to Build Knowledge and Teaching Others: Interdependent Roles in Colonial Times|
|Module 3A & 3B (choose one):Considering Perspectives and Supporting Opinions: Important Roles during the Revolutionary War; Considering Perspectives and Supporting Opinions: Simple Machines|
|Module 4: Gathering Evidence and Speaking to Others: the Leadership of Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, and DeWitt Clinton|
|Grade 5||Module 1: Becoming a Close Reader and Writing to Learn: Stories of Human Rights|
|Modules 2A & 2B (choose one): Researching to Build Knowledge and Teaching Others: Field Guides to the Amazon; Researching to Build Knowledge and Teaching Others: Inventors and Inventions|
|Modules 3A & 3B (choose one): Considering Perspectives and Supporting Opinions: Sports and Athletes’ Impact on Culture; Considering Perspectives and Supporting Opinions: Balancing Competing Needs in Canada|
|Module 4: Gathering Evidence and Speaking to Others: Natural Disasters in the Western Hemisphere|
Currently, EL has made available through engageny.org Module 1, Unit 1 (which includes 9 lessons) for each grade level. Each module will have three units for a total instructional time of eight weeks per module. EL plans to create six modules out of which districts will choose four to adopt, adapt, or refer to in their own ELA curriculum plan.
As of today, the math modules are still not up on the Engage NY site, although Kindergarten is now there. It would be a good idea to look at how they formatted the module since all modules will be in the same type of template. The link for this module is: http://engageny.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Year-Long-Grade-Level-Overview-Kindergarten.pdf. There is also a link to see an overview of the modules PreK-5. This link is: http://engageny.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Year-Long-Module-1-Overviews-PK-5.pdf. All modules are going to have the theme of “A Story of Units” and while these modules are not mandatory, they will be extremely helpful when planning lessons. A Story of Units was created to teach the logical, sequential story of elementary level mathematics using the best in instructional design. The lesson plans and the corresponding materials reflect the six instructional shifts required to teach the Common Core Learning Standards. The goal of A Story of Units is to build students’ understanding of units from the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract as they move, seamlessly, from grade to grade.
One of the strategies that is going to be found from Kindergarten and throughout the grades is the bar model, which helps children to see the part-part-whole of a problem and will also be very useful when solving word problems. When used consistently throughout the grades, it will help students when they begin algebra later on.
While fluency is one of the shifts and students are expected to know their facts quickly, this does not mean to take class periods practicing facts. The concepts of facts needs to be taught deeply so that students truly understand what 6 + 7 equals and how it relates to 13 -7. Fluency activities should be done in a variety of ways (such as games and mental math activities), in which all students are actively involved and are able to learn from their errors.