Education is meant to be the great equalizer for society, but reality shows continued disparity in terms of educational outcomes along the lines of race and income. The achievement gap, the opportunity gap, the academic gap—these all refer to a systemic difference in educational performance for students of color compared to their white peers or for students in poverty compared to students in more affluent communities. There is something wrong with a system that continues to replicate an outcome of inequity. Though there is much debate about its origin, we’ve heard insanity defined as, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Yet, according to Teach For America, here we are with a “public school system [that] is remarkably impervious to innovation, adaptation, and change” and that “hasn’t changed in 100 years.”
With Instagram’s latest #10yearchallenge and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signing executive orders to abandon the PARCC test, I found it only fitting to do a Common Core version of the challenge.
So, let’s travel down education’s memory lane to 2009 with the state-led effort (48 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia) to design and implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Per the Common Core State Standards Initiative website, “State school chiefs and governors recognized the value of consistent, real-world learning goals and launched this effort to ensure all students, regardless of where they live, are graduating high school prepared for college, career, and life.”
At any moment of the day, a variety of stimuli are vying for our students’ attention. Video games. Instagram. Snapchat. Twitter. Texting. Facetime. The list goes on and on. Thus, in order for a kid to choose a book over all the other competing options, we must cultivate a culture of reading. Reading must be equally as “cool” as Fortnite. Period. Here are three tips for cultivating a culture of reading in your classrooms and schools.
Teaching is hard! As teachers we work with young people whose bodies are changing and causing them feelings that are difficult to understand. Their minds are curious and questioning, including questions like, “Why is this important to learn? Will I use this? Why do I have to come to school?” Teachers are constantly juggling investing students in the learning, managing classroom behavior, creating a positive classroom culture, and teaching the content to kids with different abilities.
As English language arts teachers know best, teaching students to read is multi-faceted and incredibly complex. One of the best professional development (PD) experiences I have had was Close Reading led by Doug Lemov and the Teach Like a Champion team. At this PD they emphasized and re-emphasized the importance of text selection when teaching students to read. Specifically, they shared what they have coined, “The 5 Plagues of the Developing Reader” and the need for teachers to choose texts that target these five plagues. By exposing students to the five plagues in a setting where the teacher and peers can dialogue and analyze the texts together, we are then teaching students how to comprehend and analyze complex texts on their own
As the polar vortex is creating record lows and cities are experiencing the harshest cold in years, be certain your classroom climate doesn’t mirror this event. Instead, create or infuse a climate of JOY in your classroom as we head into the spring. Think back to a lesson you were taught in school that you still remember. What did the teacher do to make it stick?