Essential Curriculum Resource: SUCCESS ACADEMY ED INSTITUTE

As we enter summer—or as I like to call it, Curriculum Development Season—teachers will want to check out these two great resources:

First, Match Fishtank, which I previously blogged about here.

Second, hot off the presses:

Success Academy Ed Institute, which features detailed information on this high-performing charter network’s K-4 Literacy Instruction, plus videos of virtual tours which reveal other important aspects of their work. Success Academy won the 2017 Broad Prize, which is awarded annually to a charter school operator who demonstrates “outstanding academic outcomes among low-income students and students of color.” PS–Previous winners include YES Prep, Uncommon Schools, KIPP Schools, Noble Network, and IDEA Public Schools.

Here’s what Success Academy’s Website says about this new set of resources:

Over the past decade, Success Academy has reimagined public education, building a bold new approach to K–12 schooling. Our teaching and learning model, now tested and scaled across nearly 50 campuses, has proved extraordinarily effective. With scholars admitted by random lottery from many of New York City’s poorest neighborhoods, our schools have achieved the highest standing in our state.

Now, through our Education Institute, we are providing open access to the broad architecture and singular components of the Success Academy model. We are sharing best practices, resources, and training with educators across the nation to help many more children gain access to great schools.

The K-4 teachers I worked with on curriculum this past week gave it numerous thumbs up. Check it out!

PS–As a reminder, if you’re looking for guidance on curriculum development, check out my book Literacy and the Common Core: Recipes for Action (Jossey-Bass, 2014), which will make your life easier!

Posted in Curriculum, ELA Common Core Standards, Lesson-planning, Literacy and the Common Core BOOK, Professional Development, Resources, Text Selection, Unit-planning | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Essential Curriculum Resource: MATCH FISHTANK

If you’re writing curriculum plans, here’s a tremendous new FREE resource: Match Fishtank.

Here’s the blurb that explains what this is:

Welcome to Match Fishtank, where you can view, share, and download the curriculum we use every day at Match Charter School, the PreK-12 public school that we opened 15 years ago in Boston.

These materials have been developed and curated by our teachers and curriculum experts over many years.

At Match, we think teachers should spend more time planning how to teach — with the unique learning needs of their students in mind—and less time worrying about the basics of what to teach. Good baseline curriculum and assessments free teachers to do just that.

Match Fishtank is our effort to share our curriculum with teachers everywhere to lessen their load and help them on the road to amazing classroom learning.

Match is determined to share great materials widely. If you haven’t already seen them, check out MATCH MINIS, “our effort to share what we’ve learned—about classroom teaching, teacher training, and more—in bite-sized, entertaining 3-to-5-minute videos.” These videos are super-practical!

Posted in Curriculum, ELA Common Core Standards, Essential Questions, Instruction, Lesson-planning, Professional Development, Resources, Unit-planning | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Independent Reading and Summer Reading RESOURCES

As summer draws near, you might be thinking about assigning summer reading or planning for a more rigorous independent reading program at your school next year, or you might be looking forward to YOUR OWN summer reading. Here are some resources to explore:

On the TLC Website’s “Independent Reading” page, you can find lots of suggestions about how to run both independent and summer reading programs in your school. For example, if you want to design a more robust independent reading program for your students next year, consider the SRT (Strategic Reading Time) approach, which is described in detail in my book Literacy and the Common Core. You can find a complete SRT User’s Manual, which explains how to implement a school-wide program (or a more tailored pilot, if you prefer), on that TLC Website page.*

Regarding summer reading assignments, you might want to revisit this TLC Blog post, which offers free materials and advice. As it notes, “Whether assigning particular books or giving students a range of choices (or some combination of the two), you will undoubtedly want students to demonstrate that they have completed the reading in a way that doesn’t torture them or you.” This post advocates the Character Analysis approach, which is useful for follow-up work in the fall.

What about books for YOU?

  • I know I’m biased, but I hope my other blog, Only Good Books (which is hopefully self-explanatory), will be of use to you.
  • Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, the New York Times recently launched a new column called “Match Book” featuring book recommendations. The latest post, on sports-related books, has a gigantic list of great stuff. The comments section is super-helpful, too.

*As a reminder, followers of this TLC Blog are eligible for a 50%-off discount subscription to the TLC Website, which provides access to more than 1,200 files supporting literacy instruction. (PS: That’s less than 2 cents per file.) Click HERE and use the secret discount code, TLCBOOK50. Please note: The code is case-sensitive. If you would like to register friends at this rate, please Email me for a group registration form at sarahtantillo@literacycookbook.com

Posted in Character Analysis, Independent Reading, Literacy and the Common Core BOOK, Reading, Recommended Reading, Resources, Summer Reading, TLC Website Resources | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teaching Students How to Set a Purpose for Reading

[This post originally appeared in slightly different form on MiddleWeb on April 23, 2017.]

I think we can all agree that annotating texts helps students comprehend them more deeply. But not all forms of annotating are helpful. How you annotate matters. I’ve seen this problem quite often: students cover their texts with so many notes that it seems to have taken them an hour to read one page. While it’s great that students can annotate with generic strategies such as underlining topic sentences and starring supporting details, the truth is that they need to learn how to analyze texts more effectively and efficiently. It’s not efficient to notice everything. If you notice everything, that might be a sign that you can’t figure out what is most important.

How can we teach students to determine what is most important?

Students must learn to set a purpose for reading. Too often, teachers set the purpose (with assignments such as “Read Chapter 7 and answer these three questions” or “Read this article and write a summary”) and students do not actually learn how to set a purpose on their own. Some might not even realize that they can.

A helpful first step is to identify the GENRE of the text. If you’re reading a book review, the most obvious guiding question is “Why should we read this book?” Students would then take notes on that, not on every single thing that might be interesting about the text. After discussing the notion of genre, I would invite students to infer how they would approach different genres. For example: “Here’s an editorial from the New York Times. What should our purpose be?” And here’s an important follow-up question: “How could you tell?” Once students recognize the clues and characteristics of different genres, they can not only identify the genre but also explain its purpose (in this case, to persuade) and our purpose for reading it (to recognize the writer’s arguments and evaluate his/her support for those arguments).

When I was in high school, our chemistry teacher gave us an amazing assignment at the end of the year; he called it “Unknowns.” We received samples of different-colored chemicals/compounds and had to run experiments to figure out what each “unknown” consisted of. This assessment required us to demonstrate lab skills and content knowledge of the properties of elements we’d studied all year. English teachers could take a similar approach with random texts: students would need to use clues to identify the genre and decide what purpose(s) they would set for reading.

Beyond using genre to set purpose, students can use other clues, as well. When it comes to nonfiction/informational texts, it helps to look at the title of the text (no matter what size that text is—book, chapter, article, sub-section) and ask questions about that title. These questions—preferably “How” and “Why” questions—should guide our reading. For example, an article titled “Lifting School Cell Phone Bans” would suggest questions such as, “Why should schools lift their cell phone bans?” and “Why do schools ban cell phones in the first place?” Presumably these questions would be answered in the text.

When it comes to fiction/narratives, we can of course analyze text for a variety of purposes. For instance, we might ask students to focus on character development or the use of symbolism to convey meaning. But often when reading novels, we want students to read a chapter and figure out what’s important on their own.

I’ve actually designed an organizer for this called—wait for it—the “What’s Important Organizer.”[1] [Here’s a FREE download of What Is Important ORGANIZER. For a completed model, check out the TLC “Analyzing Literature” page.***]

NAME__________________________________________DATE___

What’s Important ORGANIZER

DIRECTIONS: Use COMPLETE SENTENCES to answer all five questions. You may either PARAPHRASE or PROVIDE QUOTES to support your assertions, but either way, you MUST GIVE PAGE NUMBERS to indicate where the evidence can be found. Refer to the model to ensure that you are doing this properly. Give AT LEAST TWO PIECES OF EVIDENCE PER QUESTION.

1. DECISIONS WITH PURPOSE: What major decisions do the characters make, and why?

 

2. CONFLICTS/OBSTACLES/CHALLENGES: What conflicts, obstacles, or challenges do the characters face, and how do they deal with them?

 

3. LESSONS/INSIGHTS/MESSAGES: What lessons do any of the characters learn? What do WE learn?

 

4. CAUSES AND EFFECTS: What events/actions have major effects on characters? How do the characters react?

 

5. PATTERNS: What patterns from either this passage or the rest of the book do you notice in this passage?

 

 

In addition to training students in what to look for when reading any narrative, this organizer supports them in the practice of summarizing. Perhaps more importantly, it reminds them that there are specific things you should look for when reading a narrative in order to grasp its most fundamental ideas.

You don’t have to underline everything.

***PS: Followers of this TLC Blog are eligible for a 50%-off discount subscription to the TLC Website, which provides access to more than 1,200 files supporting literacy instruction. (PS: That’s less than 2 cents per file.) Click HERE and use the secret discount code, TLCBOOK50. Please note: The code is case-sensitive. If you would like to register friends at this rate, please Email me for a group registration form at sarahtantillo@literacycookbook.com

[1] I’ve previously blogged about it HERE, and that original blog was adapted from The Literacy Cookbook.

Posted in Annotation, Close Reading, Comprehension, ELA Common Core Standards, Genre, MiddleWeb, Questioning, Reading, Reading Informational Text, Reading Literature, The Literacy Cookbook BOOK, TLC Website Resources | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PARCC Prep: Literary Analysis Writing DEMO LESSON

LITERACY AND THE COMMON COREAs I’ve noted in posts about the PARCC Narrative Writing Task Lesson Cycle, the PARCC Literary Analysis Lesson Task Cycle, and Research Simulation Task Lesson Cycle, it’s really important to provide and explain models of the work we expect. That includes steps such as turning the prompt into a question, taking effective notes, and writing from those notes.

Below is a quick example of what I mean, a handout from a demo lesson I conducted the other day for 7th-graders (Note: The original task with passages can be found HERE). This handout can be downloaded for free HERE: 7th-grade-lit-analysis-parcc-2015-modeling

PARCC 7th Grade Literary Analysis Task (2015 RELEASED ITEM)– MODELED

PROMPT: You have read passages from the novels The Georges and the Jewels and Black Beauty: The Autobiography of a Horse. Both were written in the first person point of view. Write an essay in which you compare the way the authors use first person point of view to develop the characters. Be sure to cite specific from BOTH passages.

QUESTION: How do the authors in the two texts use first person point of view to develop the characters?

The Georges… Black Beauty
P1: “Sometimes when YOU fall off…”– ***challenges

 

P2 intro “I” to show how narrator handles the situation: GIRL who rides for her dad who sells horses

 

P8: how “I” slid off when a horse was spooked

 

P9: Some are nice

 

P10: horse was “curled up next to me like a dog”

 

“I wish I knew where she was”—sad, missing the nice one (***Changed from beginning)

 

 

How to break in a horse

 

P2: “I”=horse

 

***Challenges, too!

 

Bit and bridle=unpleasant: “a great piece of cold hard steel as thick as a man’s finger… pushed into one’s mouth”

 

Begins to consider “my mother always wore one when she went out”—growing up

 

P3: Saddle not bad; “felt proud to carry my master… soon became accustomed to it.”

(***Changed from beginning)

The excerpts from The Georges and the Jewels and Black Beauty both use first person point of view to develop the characters, but they do so in different ways.

In The Georges and the Jewels, the narrator is Abby, a young girl who rides horses for her father who sells them. She reflects on the challenges of riding a horse, noting, “Sometimes when you fall off your horse, you just don’t want to get right back on” (Paragraph 1).   She considers how difficult it can be sometimes to ride a horse. We see her lying on the ground (P 2), then she gets up. She continues to reflect on what it’s like to deal with horses that “spook you off” (P 8), another challenge. But then she recalls nice “sweet bay mare” (P 9) who eventually “curled up next to me like a dog” (P 10), and we see her perspective start to change as she reminisces. By the end, she thinks, “I wish I knew where she was.” She misses the nice one.

In Black Beauty, by contrast, we see the point of view of the horse. “I” in this story is actually the horse…

Here’s an overview of the lesson, which took about two hours:

  • Explain what we’re doing today and why (1 min).
  • Review how to turn the prompt into a question (2 mins).
  • Remind students that we only take notes that answer the question (They had already done this).
  • Remind students that they can use the “thesis formula” (“Both [Text 1] and [Text 2] deal with ____________ [TOPIC/THEME], but they do so in different ways”) or combine it with a restatement of the question. PS: As you will see, we opted for a restatement (2 mins).
  • Explain how to go from taking the notes to writing the model paragraph. Pay attention to how the sentences WORK.  Students should notice that the evidence is EXPLAINED and transitions guide the reader (10 mins).
  • Give students time to write their own second body paragraph (using my notes or their own, which they had taken the day before with their teacher). They did this using Google Docs on their Chromebooks (10 mins).
  • Ask for volunteers to share their second body paragraphs (projected on the SmartBoard) to get feedback, then point out strengths and things to work on (5-10 mins).
  • Give students time to revise based on tips they picked up from the feedback their peers received (5 mins).
  • Discuss the purpose of the third body paragraph: to identify and explain similarities between the two texts. Note: These similarities must pertain to THE QUESTION (5 mins).
  • Give students time to write their third body paragraph (10 mins).
  • Ask for volunteers to share their third body paragraphs to get feedback, then point out strengths and things to work on (5-10 mins).
  • Give students time to revise based on tips they picked up from the feedback their peers received (5 mins).
  • Invite students to complete this “punchy conclusion” sentence starter, “Ultimately, both texts help us realize that ____.” Then randomly call on 5-6 students to share those sentences. Make a big deal about the fact that there is not one “right” conclusion; five different people will have five different plausible conclusions (5-10 mins).
  • Give students 10-15 minutes to finish revising the entire essay.

If you have any questions about this demo lesson or want to reach me about consulting needs, please Email me directly at sarahtantillo@literacycookbook.com

You can find additional modeling handouts (for 4th-grade RST work and 8th-grade Literary Analysis work) on the TLC “PARCC Prep” page.  Followers of this TLC Blog are eligible for a 50%-off discount subscription to the TLC Website, which provides access to more than 1,200 files supporting literacy instruction. (PS: That’s less than 2 cents per file.) Click HERE and use the secret discount code, TLCBOOK50. Please note: The code is case-sensitive. If you would like to register friends at this rate, please Email me for a group registration form at sarahtantillo@literacycookbook.com

Posted in Assessment(s), Close Reading, Compare and Contrast, Demo Lesson, Literary Analysis Writing, PARCC, Research Writing, Resources, Test Prep, Thesis Statements, TLC Website Resources | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PARCC Prep: More ELA Test Items Released

LITERACY AND THE COMMON COREIn case you don’t follow the PARCC newsletter, PARCC announced on Jan. 30, 2017 that they have released more high school test items.

It appears that since their previous announcement on Dec. 2, (which I blogged about here), they also added some items for other grades, too. In any event, I have once again updated my ongoing files featuring all of the released writing prompts.

Those updated files, along with more information about PARCC preparation, can be found on the TLC “PARCC Prep” page.

Followers of this TLC Blog are eligible for a 50%-off discount subscription to the TLC Website, which provides access to more than 1,200 files supporting literacy instruction. (PS: That’s less than 2 cents per file.) Click HERE and use the secret discount code, TLCBOOK50. Please note: The code is case-sensitive. If you would like to register friends at this rate, please Email me for a group registration form at sarahtantillo@literacycookbook.com

Posted in Assessment(s), Literary Analysis Writing, Narrative Writing, PARCC, Research Writing, Resources, TLC Website Resources | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PARCC Prep: Suggested Writing Skills Tracker

LITERACY AND THE COMMON COREIf you are working with students on any of the three writing tasks, this Writing Skills Tracker may be helpful. For an Excel spreadsheet version of the table below, here’s the free downloadable parcc-writing-skills-tracker.  For more tools like this, please check out my TLC Website “PARCC Prep” page.

OBJECTIVES Date Taught Re-taught Proficiency?
NARRATIVE TASK      
1-SWBAT explain the differences between the two different types of PARCC Narrative prompts (change POV and retell vs. extend the story).      
2-SWBAT successfully complete Narrative Pre-Writing Organizer for a “retelling from a different point of view” narrative.      
3-SWBAT successfully complete Narrative Pre-Writing Organizer for an “extending the story” narrative.      
4-SWBAT explain which elements are required for a passing score on the “retelling from a different point of view” narrative.      
5-SWBAT explain which elements are required for a passing score on the “extend the story” narrative.      
6-SWBAT write a timed “retelling from a different point of view” narrative which maintains a consistent POV, faithfully retells the original plot, and formats dialogue properly (blank paper and typed).      
7-SWBAT write a timed “extending the story” narrative which uses the original POV and logically extends the original story, with dialogue formatted properly (blank paper and typed).      
       
LITERARY ANALYSIS TASK      
1-SWBAT turn a statement into a question in order to unpack PARCC writing prompts.      
2-SWBAT close read text #1 in response to the unpacked prompt in order to take notes for an essay response.      
3-SWBAT close read text #2 in response to the unpacked prompt, in order to take notes for an essay response.      
4-SWBAT identify similarities among texts in order to address those commonalities when writing that body paragraph.      
5-SWBAT write a thesis statement in order to introduce a literary analysis essay.      
6-SWBAT use notes in order to write effective body paragraphs.      
7-SWBAT draft a punchy conclusion sentence in order to complete the essay effectively.      
8-SWBAT explain what is required to write an effective literary analysis essay on the PARCC.      
9-SWBAT analyze PARCC-released items in order to evaluate them through the lens of the PARCC writing rubric.      
10-SWBAT write a timed literary analysis response that answers the question(s) implicit in the prompt with proper evidence and explanation (blank paper and typed).      
       
RESEARCH SIMULATION TASK      
1-SWBAT turn a statement into a question in order to unpack PARCC writing prompts.      
2-SWBAT close read text #1 in response to the unpacked prompt in order to take notes for an essay response.      
3-SWBAT close read text #2 in response to the unpacked prompt, in order to take notes for an essay response.      
4-SWBAT take notes on a video* in response to the unpacked prompt in order to prepare for an essay response (*not for 3rd grade).      
5-SWBAT identify similarities among texts in order to address those commonalities when writing that body paragraph.      
6-SWBAT write a thesis statement in order to introduce a research simulation essay.      
7-SWBAT use notes in order to write effective body paragraphs.      
8-Draft a punchy conclusion sentence in order to complete the essay effectively.      
9-SWBAT explain what is required to write an effective research simulation essay on the PARCC.      
10-SWBAT analyze PARCC-released items in order to evaluate them through the lens of the PARCC writing rubric.      
11-SWBAT successfully write a timed RST response that answers the question(s) implicit in the prompt with proper evidence and explanation (blank paper and typed).      
       

(PS: Thanks to Anibal Garcia at Queen City Academy CS for his support with this list!)

Posted in Assessment(s), Literary Analysis Writing, Narrative Writing, PARCC, Research Writing, Resources, Test Prep, TLC Website Resources, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PARCC Prep: Suggested Grading Conversion Charts for PARCC ELA Rubrics

LITERACY AND THE COMMON COREAs you probably know, the PARCC ELA Writing Rubrics have been revised a few times. I have previously blogged about the rubrics HERE.

If you are trying to convert scores from PARCC ELA rubrics to grades for your grade book, this post, which includes two versions, may help. The accompanying explanations should help you decide which rubrics (and charts) to use.

For a free downloadable version of the charts below (in Excel format), click here: suggested-grading-conversion-charts-for-parcc-ela-rubrics.

SUGGESTED Grading Conversion Charts VERSION #1

For PARCC User-Friendly Rubrics found on The Literacy Cookbook Website at:

https://www.literacycookbook.com/page.php?id=155

NOTE: These correspond to PARCC-released items from 2015 (before PARCC changed the rubrics in July 2015).

GRADE 3:        
NARRATIVE: 3 2 1 0
Written Expression 95

 

80 60 0
Knowledge of Language and Conventions 95

 

80 60 0
         
RST/LIT. ANALYSIS 3 2 1 0
Reading Comprehension 95

 

80 60 0
Written Expression 95

 

80 60 0
Knowledge of Language and Conventions 95

 

80 60 0
         
GRADES 4-5:        
NARRATIVE: 3 2 1 0
Written Expression 95

 

80 60 0
Knowledge of Language and Conventions 95

 

80 60 0
         
RST/LIT. ANALYSIS 3 2 1 0
Reading Comprehension 95

 

80 60 0
Written Expression 95

 

80 60 0
Knowledge of Language and Conventions 95

 

80 60 0
         
GRADES 6-11:          
NARRATIVE: 4 3 2 1 0
Written Expression 95 85 70 60 0
Knowledge of Language and Conventions N/A 95 80 60 0
           
RST/LIT. ANALYSIS 4 3 2 1 0
Reading Comprehension 95 85 70 60 0
Written Expression 95 85 70 60 0
Knowledge of Language and Conventions N/A 95 80 60 0

 

SUGGESTED Grading Conversion Charts VERSION #2

For PARCC July 2015 Versions of the Rubric found on the PARCC Website at:

http://www.parcconline.org/assessments/test-design/ela-literacy/test-specifications-documents

NOTE: These DO NOT ALL correspond to PARCC-released items from 2015 (which were scored before the rubrics were revised).

GRADE 3:        
NARRATIVE: 3 2 1 0
Written Expression 95

 

80 60 0
Knowledge of Language and Conventions 95

 

80 60 0
         
RST/LIT. ANALYSIS 3 2 1 0
Reading Comprehension 95

 

80 60 0
Written Expression 95

 

80 60 0
Knowledge of Language and Conventions 95

 

80 60 0
         
GRADES 4-5:        
NARRATIVE: 3 2 1 0
Written Expression 95

 

80 60 0
Knowledge of Language and Conventions 95

 

80 60 0
         
RST/LIT. ANALYSIS 4 3 2 1

 

0
Reading Comprehension 95 85 70 60 0
Written Expression 95 85 70 60 0
Knowledge of Language and Conventions N/A 95 80 60 0
         
GRADES 6-11:          
NARRATIVE: 4 3 2 1 0
Written Expression 95 85 70 60 0
Knowledge of Language and Conventions N/A 95 80 60 0
           
RST/LIT. ANALYSIS 4 3 2 1 0
Reading Comprehension 95 85 70 60 0
Written Expression 95 85 70 60 0
Knowledge of Language and Conventions N/A 95 80 60 0

If you have any questions, comments, or thoughts about these charts, please chime in!

Thanks,

ST

Posted in Assessment(s), Literary Analysis Writing, Narrative Writing, PARCC, Research Writing, Rubrics, Test Prep, TLC Website Resources | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PARCC Prep: Literary Analysis Writing Lesson Cycle

LITERACY AND THE COMMON COREAs many of you know, I have written numerous posts on how to teach literary analysis writing HERE. You will want to review this post on Essential Literacy Work Before You Begin Test Prep. You can also find an array of useful tools on the TLC “Analyzing Literature,” “Literary Response Paper Guide,” and “PARCC Prep” pages, among others.***

Following is a sample lesson cycle for teaching the PARCC Literary Analysis Writing Task. It familiarizes students with that genre of writing and builds needed reading and writing skills. You will note that it mirrors the Research Simulation Task in some respects, albeit with literature as opposed to nonfiction (and uses only two texts instead of three).

As with all instruction, I must add the caveat that test prep should not be done 24/7, and while it is necessary, it is not sufficient to prepare students for academic and career success.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please chime in!

Thanks,

ST

Lesson #1

Objective: SWBAT turn a statement into a question in order to unpack PARCC writing prompts.

Time Frame: 50 minutes

Intro:

As we prepare for PARCC, the MOST IMPORTANT thing you need to be able to do is what we are working on today: turning the prompt into a question. 99% of the time, the prompt is not worded as a question and it does not end with a question mark. If you don’t know what the question is, you probably won’t answer it! But if you DO turn it into a question, you should be able to answer it.

Lesson:

As a reminder, when we take the PARCC ELA portion, the FIRST THING YOU SHOULD DO is click forward to the writing prompt so that you can turn it into a question and write it on your scrap paper.   Why? Because the question(s) will guide your reading. You will take notes on the texts looking for answers to the question(s).

It’s a simple two-step process. Scan the writing prompt for a VERB indicating what you need to do (such as explain, describe, analyze, evaluate) and a QUESTION WORD such as HOW or WHY.

PS: You can find PARCC-released prompts and items here. You can also find one file with all of the updated Literary Analysis Prompts on the TLC “PARCC Prep” page.

Example Prompt: Think about how the structural elements in “Emergency on the Mountain” differ from the structural elements in the poem “Mountains.” Write an essay that explains the differences in the structural elements between the passage and the poem. Be sure to include specific examples from both texts to support your response.

-> Question: How do the structural elements in “Emergency on the Mountain” differ from the structural elements in the poem “Mountains”? Write an essay explaining the differences.

99% of the time, you will easily find HOW or WHY.   If you don’t see HOW or WHY, find the verb and insert HOW:

Example Prompt: Where the Red Fern Grows and “The Lighthouse Lamp” are written from different points of view. Write an essay analyzing the impact of point of view on events in the passage from Where the Red Fern Grows and the impact of point of view on events in the poem, “The Lighthouse Lamp.”   Use specific examples from BOTH texts to support your answer.

-> Question: How do the different points of view in Where the Red Fern Grows and “The Lighthouse Lamp” affect the events in each text? Write an essay explaining the impact of the point of view on events in each text.

Look at prompts from various grades (HANDOUT NEEDED). Follow “I Do,” “We Do,” then “You Do.”

Students practice turning given prompts into questions.

NOTE: If prompts require students to infer theme, check out this helpful post on how to infer themes.

Lesson #2

Objective: SWBAT close read text #1 in response to the unpacked prompt in order to take notes for an essay response (untimed).

Time Frame: 40-50 minutes

Intro:

[Do Now: Practice turning prompts into questions.]

Yesterday we practiced turning the prompts into questions. Today we’re going to practice pulling notes out of the texts to ANSWER the question.   This is a REALLY IMPORTANT LITERARY ANALYSIS SKILL, not just for the PARCC, but for college and life!

Lesson:

1.     Review question for this task.

2.     Create T-chart on blank paper to take notes.

3.     Model taking notes on ONLY information that relates to the prompt in the first two paragraphs/stanzas (first column).

4.     Partners read and discuss what should be placed in the notes in next paragraph. Not every paragraph/stanza has relevant information!!!

5.     Share out ideas; check for understanding that information is most relevant.

6.     Record those notes on the organizer.

7.     Continue reading paragraph by paragraph (or stanza by stanza).

Lesson #3

Objective: SWBAT close read text #2 in response to the unpacked prompt, in order to take notes for an essay response (untimed).

Time Frame: 40-50 minutes

Intro:

[Do Now: 1) Practice turning a prompt (PROVIDE THE PROMPT) into a question. 2) When taking the PARCC, why do we ONLY take notes on the question?]

Let’s go over the Do Now. By now, we should all be experts at turning prompts into questions. What about question 2, though? Why is it so important to only take notes on the question? (Discuss)

Today our goal is to get better at taking EFFICIENT notes when reading a text.   Because we don’t have all the time in the world!

Lesson:

Practice taking notes again on Text #2. (I Do, We Do, You Do)

Lesson #4

(NOTE: For more thoughts on Compare/Contrast writing, see here.)

Objective: SWBAT:

●      Identify similarities among texts in order to address those commonalities when you write your body paragraph.

●      Write thesis statement in order to introduce a literary analysis essay.

Time Frame: 30-40 minutes

Intro:

Most of the Literary Analysis prompts ask us to compare and contrast in some way, so we will need to identify similarities in our notes. We’re going to use a simple approach: using checkmarks to identify those similarities. Today we’re also going to practice using a simple fill-in-the-blank sentence for our thesis statement….

Lesson:

Using the T-chart you have been working on, model how and why to put checkmarks next to notes that show similarities between both texts.

Consider providing a pre-completed T-chart on some other topic and have students insert checkmarks for practice.

Show students the thesis statement template:

Thesis statement model:

Both [Text 1] and [Text 2] deal with __________________________________ [TOPIC/THEME], but they do so in different ways.

Model this with the titles and topic. Give them another prompt to practice with (You should be able to generate this thesis without even reading the texts).   PS–You can go back to the original prompts for this.

Lesson #5

Objective: SWBAT use notes in order to write effective body paragraphs.

Time Frame: 50 minutes

Intro:

How do we move from notes to writing? This is one of the hardest things we have to do as readers and writers. Let’s look at how to do this…

Lesson:

The overall structure of the essay will be:

●      Paragraph 1: Thesis statement (see Lesson #4)

●      Paragraph 2: Body paragraph dealing with Text 1

●      Paragraph 3: Body paragraph dealing with Text 2

●      Paragraph 4: Body paragraph dealing with similarities

●      Paragraph 5: One-sentence punchy conclusion

Today, we’ll work on the first two body paragraphs. Show students a completed model of Body 1 and explain how it works. (NEED HANDOUT) Work on Body 2 together.

 

Lesson #6

Objective: SWBAT:

●      Pull ideas from notes in order to draft body paragraph #3.

●      Identify what both texts have in common in order to write a body paragraph explaining these similarities.

●      Draft a punchy conclusion sentence in order to complete the essay effectively.

Time Frame: 40-50 minutes

Intro:

Let’s review what we did yesterday… Then we will work together on the “What they all have in common” paragraph.

Lesson:

Body #3 = what they have in common (This needs to be modeled: Instead of drafting this on the spot, show them a completed version, then explain it.)

Last sentence = punchy conclusion sentence that DOES NOT restate the thesis (needs to be modeled; there is not one “right answer”), e.g., “Ultimately, both texts help us realize that __________________.”

Lesson #7

Objective: SWBAT analyze PARCC-released items in order to evaluate them through the lens of the PARCC writing rubric.

Time Frame: 50-60 minutes

Materials: PARCC-released LA item (see https://prc.parcconline.org/assessments/parcc-released-items), scored student examples, and “User-friendly PARCC Writing Rubric” from TLC “PARCC Prep” page.

Intro:

What does PARCC really expect when we do the Literary Analysis Task? Let’s look at the rubric and some student examples that were scored….

Lesson:

●      Analyze the PARCC writing rubric (see TLC “PARCC Prep” page for User-friendly versions), and apply it to several scored student responses (see PARCC-released items).

●      I Do, We Do, You Do evaluation of sample student responses using PARCC writing rubric.

Lesson #8

Objective: SWBAT write a timed Literary Analysis response (blank paper and typed writing of tasks) in order to prepare for PARCC.

Time Frame: 60 minutes

Material: Laptops (see note below*), blank paper

Intro: Let’s see how we do!

Lesson:

*Insert the passages into a Google Doc/form so that students can simulate the PARCC test-taking experience.

Lesson #9

(NOTE: Skip a day after Lesson #8 so students who were absent can make up the practice timed test.)

Objective: SWBAT revise their Literary Analysis timed essay response in order to improve their writing.

Time Frame: 40-60 minutes

Material: Laptops

Intro: Today we’re going to see how we did and look at ways to improve. We’ll look at some models and use a revision checklist to strengthen our writing. You will have time to revise your work and meet with me if you have any questions. Our purpose here is not just to get better at PARCC writing but to get better at writing, period.

Lesson:

Phase 1 [First round of revisions, most important stuff]

1.     Answers the question(s) raised by the prompt.

2.     Has a clear introduction/thesis statement.

3.     Paragraphs are focused and logically organized.

4.     Cites relevant evidence from ALL texts.

5.     Explains how evidence answers the question(s).

Phase 2 [Second round, also important]

1.     Proper sentence structure (no run-ons or fragments)

2.     Effective use of transitions

3.     Strong vocabulary

4.     Punchy conclusion that does NOT repeat the thesis

Lesson #10

Objective: SWBAT revise their Literary Analysis timed essay response in order to improve their writing.

Time Frame: 40 minutes

Material: Laptops (optional)

Intro: More time to revise!

Lesson: More time to work on revisions if needed.

Going forward, you will of course want to revisit skills that students need more practice on. For information/resources on the texts and multiple-choice questions typically associated with PARCC Literary Analysis sections, see the TLC “PARCC Prep” page.

***As a bonus for TLC Blog followers, here is the 50%-off discount code for yearlong access to the 2,000-plus teacher-friendly tools found on The Literacy Cookbook Website: TLCBOOK50 (Note: ALL CAPS).

Posted in Assessment(s), Close Reading, Compare and Contrast, Evidence, Explanation, Lesson-planning, Literary Analysis Writing, PARCC, Reading Literature, Resources, Rubrics, Test Prep, Themes, Thesis Statements, TLC Website Resources, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

PARCC Prep: Research Simulation Task Writing Lesson Cycle

LITERACY AND THE COMMON COREI’ve been working with colleagues in the field on an UPDATED lesson cycle for history/social studies/science teachers who are trying to prepare their students for the PARCC Research Simulation Task. (PS: I have previously blogged about teaching the RST here and here.) What follows is still a work in progress, but I hope it will be of use.

Loud shout-outs to Dominy Alderman at HoLa Charter School and teachers at Red Bank CS and Queen City Academy CS, all of whom helped me think this through!

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please chime in!

Thanks,
ST

Lesson #1

Objective: SWBAT turn a statement into a question in order to unpack PARCC writing prompts.

Time Frame: 50 minutes

Intro:

As we prepare for PARCC, the MOST IMPORTANT thing you need to be able to do is what we are working on today: turning the prompt into a question.   99% of the time, the prompt is not worded as a question and it does not end with a question mark. If you don’t know what the question is, you probably won’t answer it! But if you DO turn it into a question, you should be able to answer it.

Lesson:

As a reminder, when we take the PARCC ELA portion, the FIRST THING YOU SHOULD DO is click forward to the writing prompt so that you can turn it into a question and write it on your scrap paper. Why?   Because the question(s) will guide your reading. You will take notes on the texts looking for answers to the question(s).

It’s a simple two-step process.   Scan the writing prompt for a VERB indicating what you need to do (such as explain, describe, analyze, evaluate) and a QUESTION WORD such as HOW or WHY.

Example Prompt: You have read the passage from Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship, which describes how a hippo and a tortoise depend on one another. You have also viewed a video about the connection between mongooses and hornbills. Think about how these relationships are different. Write an essay that describes how the friendship between Owen and Mzee is different from the relationship between mongooses and hornbills. Use examples from both the article and the video to support your conclusions.

-> Question: How is the friendship between Owen and Mzee different from the relationship between mongooses and hornbills?

99% of the time, you will easily find HOW or WHY. If you don’t see HOW or WHY, find the verb and insert HOW:

Example Prompt: Your class has been studying about the survival of the ponies on Assateague Island. Using information from the articles and the video, describe the roles that both the horses and humans play in the horses’ survival. Use evidence from the articles and the video to support your answer.

-> Question: How do horses and humans play a role in the survival of horses?

Look at prompts from various grades (HANDOUT NEEDED: See TLC “PARCC Prep” page for “PARCC Research Simulation Writing Prompts-12-4-16” for a file containing dozens in the Download Zone, or else go to PARCC Released Items and find them one by one).   Follow “I Do,” “We Do,” then “You Do.”

Students practice turning given prompts into questions.

Lesson #2

Objective: SWBAT close read text #1 in response to the unpacked prompt in order to take notes for an essay response (untimed).

Time Frame: 40-50 minutes

Intro:

[Do Now: Practice turning prompts into questions.]

Yesterday we practiced turning the prompts into questions. Today we’re going to practice pulling notes out of the texts to ANSWER the question. This is a REALLY IMPORTANT RESEARCH SKILL, not just for the PARCC, but for college and life!

Lesson:

1.     Review question for this task.

2.     Create 3-column chart on blank paper to take notes (NOTE: 3rd-grade only uses two texts, so for 3rd, use a T-chart and disregard Lesson #4 about analyzing video.)

3.     Model taking notes on ONLY information that relates to the prompt in the first two paragraphs (first column).

4.     Partners read and discuss what should be placed in the notes in next paragraph. Not every paragraph has relevant information!!!

5.     Share out ideas; check for understanding that information is most relevant.

6.     Record those notes on the organizer.

7.     Continue reading paragraph by paragraph.

Lesson #3

Objective: SWBAT close read text #2 in response to the unpacked prompt, in order to take notes for an essay response (untimed).

Time Frame: 40-50 minutes

Intro:

[Do Now: 1) Practice turning a prompt (PROVIDE THE PROMPT) into a question. 2) When taking the PARCC, why do we ONLY take notes on the question?]

Let’s go over the Do Now. By now, we should all be experts at turning prompts into questions.   What about question 2, though?   Why is it so important to only take notes on the question? (Discuss)

Today our goal is to get better at taking EFFICIENT notes when reading a text. Because we don’t have all the time in the world!

Lesson:

Practice taking notes again on Text #2. (I Do, We Do, You Do)

Lesson #4

Objective: SWBAT take notes on a video in response to the unpacked prompt in order to prepare for an essay response.

Time Frame: 40-50 minutes

Intro:

We’ve been working on taking notes on written text.   Today we’re going to turn our attention to how to take notes on a video, which can be a little tricky.   On the PARCC, you’ll have headphones and a chance to watch and rewind the video clip so that you can take notes.

Lesson:

Again, let’s remember what the question is and use that as a guide for taking notes.  Show a whole 3-minute video, then model stopping about every 30 seconds to stop and think about the prompt question, and jotting down notes in the organizer. (3rd column)

WE DO: Let’s practice some more with a DIFFERENT video [NOTE: Use something on the same topic if possible; if not, you will have to create a new prompt.]. Show the whole video, then rewind and stop the video every 30 seconds or so, so that students can jot notes. Share out as you go initially (“What did you write?”), then release them to do more on their own and share out at the end.

YOU DO: [Again, show a different video, stopping periodically without commenting, just giving them time to jot notes.] Students practice independently, then share notes.

Lesson #5

Objective: SWBAT:

●      Identify similarities among texts in order to address those commonalities when you write your body paragraph.

●      Write thesis statement in order to introduce a research simulation essay.

Time Frame: 30-40 minutes

Intro:

Most of the RST prompts ask us to compare and contrast in some way, so we will need to identify similarities in our notes.   We’re going to use a simple approach: using checkmarks to identify those similarities. Today we’re also going to practice using a simple fill-in-the-blank sentence for our thesis statement….

Lesson:

Using the 3-column chart you have been working on, model how and why to put checkmarks next to notes that show similarities among all three “texts.”

Consider providing a pre-completed 3-column chart on some other topic and have students insert checkmarks for practice.

Show students the thesis statement template:

Thesis statement model:

[Text 1],[Text 2], and [Text 3] all deal with __________________________________ [TOPIC/THEME], but they do so in different ways.

Model this with the titles and topic. Give them another prompt to practice with (You should be able to generate this thesis without even reading the texts). PS–You can go back to the original prompts for this.

Lesson #6

Objective: SWBAT use notes in order to write effective body paragraphs.

Time Frame: 50 minutes

Intro:

How do we move from notes to writing? This is one of the hardest things we have to do as researchers and writers.   Let’s look at how to do this…

Lesson:

The overall structure of the essay will be:

●      Paragraph 1: Thesis statement (see Lesson #5)

●      Paragraph 2: Body paragraph dealing with Text 1

●      Paragraph 3: Body paragraph dealing with Text 2

●      Paragraph 4: Body paragraph dealing with Text 3 (video)

●      Paragraph 5: Body paragraph dealing with similarities

●      Paragraph 6: One-sentence punchy conclusion

Today, we’ll work on the first two body paragraphs. Show students a completed model of Body 1 and explain how it works. (NEED HANDOUT) Work on Body 2 together.

Lesson #7

Objective: SWBAT:

●      Pull ideas from notes in order to draft body paragraph #3.

●      Identify what the three texts have in common in order to write a body paragraph explaining these similarities.

●      Draft a punchy conclusion sentence in order to complete the essay effectively.

Time Frame: 40-50 minutes

Intro:

Let’s review what we did yesterday… And today you will practice with Text/Video 3. Then we will work together on the “What they all have in common” paragraph.

Lesson:

Body #3 = text #3 – You Do (15 minutes, then share some on the document camera)

Body #4 = what they have in common (This needs to be modeled: Instead of drafting this on the spot, show them a completed version, then explain it.)

Last sentence = punchy conclusion sentence that DOES NOT restate the thesis (This needs to be modeled; there is not one “right answer,” but here is a sample sentence starter: “Ultimately, these texts teach us that _____….”)

Lesson #8

Objective: SWBAT analyze PARCC-released items in order to evaluate them through the lens of the PARCC writing rubric.

Time Frame: 50-60 minutes

Materials: PARCC-released RST item (see https://prc.parcconline.org/assessments/parcc-released-items), scored student examples, and User-friendly PARCC Writing Rubric from TLC “PARCC Prep” page.

Intro:

What does PARCC really expect when we do the RST?   Let’s look at the rubric and some student examples that were scored….

Lesson:

●      Analyze the PARCC writing rubric (see TLC “PARCC Prep” page for User-friendly versions), and apply it to several scored student responses (see PARCC-released items).

●      I Do, We Do, You Do evaluation of sample student responses using PARCC writing rubric.

Lesson #9

Objective: SWBAT write a timed RST response (blank paper and typed writing of tasks) in order to prepare for PARCC.

Time Frame: 60 minutes

Material: Laptops (see note below*), blank paper

Intro: Let’s see how we do!

Lesson:

*Insert the passages into a Google Doc/form so that students can simulate the PARCC test-taking experience.

Lesson #10

(NOTE: Skip a day after Lesson #9 so students who were absent can make up the practice timed test.)

Objective: SWBAT revise their RST timed essay response in order to improve their writing.

Time Frame: 40-60 minutes

Material: Laptops

Intro: Today we’re going to see how we did and look at ways to improve. We’ll look at some models and use a revision checklist to strengthen our writing. You will have time to revise your work and meet with me if you have any questions. Our purpose here is not just to get better at PARCC writing but to get better at writing, period.

Lesson:

Phase 1 [First round of revisions, most important stuff]

1.     Answers the question(s) raised by the prompt.

2.     Has a clear introduction/thesis statement.

3.     Paragraphs are focused and logically organized.

4.     Cites relevant evidence from ALL texts.

5.     Explains how evidence answers the question(s).

Phase 2 [Second round, also important]

1.       Proper sentence structure (no run-ons or fragments)

2.       Effective use of transitions

3.       Strong vocabulary

4.       Punchy conclusion

Lesson #11

Objective: SWBAT revise their RST timed essay response in order to improve their writing.

Time Frame: 40 minutes

Material: Laptops (optional)

Intro:  More time to revise!

Lesson: More time to work on revisions if needed.

 

Posted in Assessment(s), Compare and Contrast, ELA Common Core Standards, Evidence, Explanation, Lesson-planning, Media Literacy, Organizing an Essay, PARCC, Research Writing, Resources, RPM Objectives, Rubrics, Test Prep, Thesis Statements, TLC Website Resources, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments