For the month of March, I am participating in the Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by the community of writers at Two Writing Teachers. Many of my slices are at my personal blog, Just Write, Melanie, but ones that deal specifically with education appear here. All are welcome to join the slicing party by reading and commenting. People write amazing posts.
I have a love/hate relationship going with the Common Core State Standards, and this relationship is complicated by the SBAC...more on that perhaps next week, when the testing begins.
In the meantime, one of the aspects of the CCSS that I appreciate is the fact that I see absolutely no way for students to meet the standards at any grade level unless they are transferring what they know and are able to do across units. Therefore, some of my coaching work has centered on working with teachers to create visible learning pathways for students to see how what they already know helps them learn what they need to know.
In a third-grade classroom, we co-created this chart with the students:
We filled this chart out as an inquiry lesson, so the students' names are after their contribution to the chart. They were thrilled to see that they already knew so much about opinion writing before they even started. In the couple of weeks they have been in the opinion unit, their writing has been strong. Their classroom teacher and I agree that part of the reason for their success has been the confidence gained from this chart.
I created a similar chart for a fourth-grade class as they headed into an opinion unit, adding a column for narrative and creating categories for structure and elaboration. The class generated the features of opinion on the first day of the unit and will continue to add to this chart throughout the unit. Again, there is something very reassuring about using what you know in order to learn new information, no matter what you are doing!