Professional Book Review

The Core Six:
Essential Strategies for Achieving Excellence
with the Common Core

Attention Content Area Teachers, Literacy Coaches, Grade Level Team Members, and Administrators: What might the conversation below about the NYS Common Core Literacy Standards look like in your school?

“I am not a reading teacher; why do I have to teach reading? Isn’t that what English teachers do?”

Teacher:

“Yes, of course. English teachers develop literacy skills through the study of literature. We probably have a pretty good idea what this might look like in the English classroom; I wonder what reading and writing might look like in your content area.”

Literacy Coach:

“I don’t have time to teach reading and writing; I have to cover my content. And, I am not an English teacher; how can I possibly teach reading and writing?”

Teacher:

“I hear you say you are worried about teaching reading and writing because of time and unfamiliarity with strategies.”

Literacy Coach:

“Yes. I can’t even get students to think deeply about the content; I have no idea how I am going to get them to read and write about the content.

Teacher:

“Hmmm—I wonder if reading and writing is a way to get students to think. What do you believe about this statement to be true?

Literacy Coach:

“Well, in order to comprehend what one is reading, thinking is involved. I guess the same is true for writing—one has to think about what they want to write.”

Teacher:

“I appreciate your reasoning, which I think we can use as our basis for how we might use literacy strategies to help your students think critically about the content and deepen their learning. Would you be willing to explore this idea a bit further?”

Literacy Coach:

“I am interested, but I really need to use strategies that are quick to implement and easy to use.”

Teacher:

“I have the perfect resource, it the book The Core Six: Essential Strategies for Achieving Excellence with the Common Core. Let me tell you about why this book is the best choice for us to use…”

Literacy Coach:

“What I most liked about the book was how it emphasized practical ways to meet the rigorous demands of “The Core Six”:

  1. Reading for Meaning
  2. Compare & Contrast
  3. Inductive Learning
  4. Circle of Knowledge
  5. Write to Learn
  6. Vocabulary’s CODE

Each “core” is a chapter that provides a description of the “core” strategy, the research that supports this strategy, tips for implementing the strategy, and sample lessons given a variety of grade levels and content areas. The authors cite how each strategy is aligned to the Common Core Literacy Standards. Additionally, the authors offer student-centered, inquiry-based instructional strategies that requires little preparation to implement.”

Literacy Coach:

“Ok, I like the idea that the strategies will engage students in a format that is easy to use, but I am still feeling overwhelmed. My principal keeps referring to the literacy shifts and wanting to see them in my daily practice. I have no idea how to get started.”

Teacher:

“I would like to recommend that we use this book with your grade level colleagues helping to generate common language and strategies around the literacy standards and embedded shifts. The book will provide structure to collaboration meetings and in achieving this goal. Let’s start with Chapter 1: Reading for Meaning. We can read the chapter, discuss how reading will support the different content areas, and collaboratively plan reading lessons that support the same skill in the different content areas. To inform our instruction, we will analyze student work—what we ask students to do with the material they read. We can discuss how this strategy supported student learning and identify areas for improvement.”

Literacy Coach:

“It makes sense to me to work with other grade level teachers. I have asked students to read in my class in the past and the general consensus was that it wasn’t English class so they didn’t take the reading seriously. It was a really great article too that lent itself perfectly to the topic we were studying. I haven’t tried getting students to read since. But, if we all have students read using the same strategy students might be more open to reading in my class.”

Teacher:

“I am sorry you experienced that. It sounds like you are saying that if all teachers are asking students to read using the same strategy there might be a real impact in developing reading skills while learning content.”

Literacy Coach:

“Yeah, also I really like the idea of getting support from my colleagues while trying out these strategies. Hmmm … this conversation is making me excited to learn how to use literacy as a tool to get students to think critically about my content. I have been wracking my brain to get my students to think critically—it has been a real struggle.”

Teacher:

“You know; I haven’t mentioned the best part—the book is free! OCM BOCES offers free, downloadable resources from their Professional eBook Library. Here are the steps to access The Core Six: Essential Strategies for Achieving Excellence with the Common Core written by Harvey Silver, R. Thomas Dewing, and Matthew Perini:

  • Go to ocmboces.org
  • Click on the link Instructional Support Services
  • Click on the Digital Book Collection icon or go to the bottom of the page and click on the Professional eBook Library link
  • Once on the Professional eBook Library page you can search by title or by topic
  • The book is downloadable for print, to read digitally, or listen to as an audio book

Literacy Coach:

“Is it really that easy?”

Teacher:

“It can be that easy if we use the book as our guide. Let’s get started shall we?”

Literacy Coach:

Pawlewicz_Denise_150pxDenise Pawlewicz
PBL/Literacy Trainer & Coach
dpawlewicz@ocmboces.org

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