Monday, February 24, 2014

The Ideal ELA Student: According to the Common Core

A question that I constantly ask myself as I plan is, "Am I teaching to the standards?" I never want  create activities as time fillers, ways to just complete the day. No, everything I do must have a purpose toward that end goal.

In a nut shell, the Common Core is made up of four strands, which if mastered, should create a well rounded literate person.

To offer a clearer picture, I recommend reading the following link in regards to ELA and the CCSS.

English Language Arts Standards » Introduction » Students Who are College and Career Ready in Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, & Language

The following statement focuses on the portrait of the ideal student of the CCSS.
They are independent and free thinkers, continually build strong content knowledge, adapt their communications easily depending on the task, engaged and open-minded readers and listeners, cite evidence from text, use technology and digital media strategically and capably, and understand other cultures and perspectives.

First, all this speaks to the student centered classroom. The students must be able to grapple with a variety of texts by themselves and in groups. They must be able to read the texts, comprehend them, develop arguments, and defend their arguments citing evidence from the text. CCSS students must utilize technology for research, and be able to decipher valid from invalid sources, and publish their work. Finally, students must be world thinkers, and understand perspectives of other cultures.

So, how have I over the course of this year brought this ideal out in my students.
  • We completed three units utilizing themes such as Believe and Achieve, Perseverance: The Strength of the Human Spirit, and Rising Up from Hate: Equality for All. Every one of these units incorporated research projects utilizing technology as well as traditional research sources, several essay pieces citing textual evidence(some published and some not published), whole discussion, small group discussion, debate, a heavy emphasis on non-fiction and historical texts, technology integration through the use of Kid Blog for publishing writing, Haiku Deck for presentations, Animoto, and research through the internet.
I believe that all of these elements are important, and one is not more important than the other.

Someone may be a marvelous writer, but what good is it, if he/she doesn't have the courage to speak well publicly.

I reflect often on my undergraduate degree. I was a Speech Communications major with an emphasis in Political Communications. I studied the debates of many past U.S. Presidents, and I competed in several debates. Political speech makers are writers, analyzers, researchers, and interpreters of text.
Public speaking requires high levels of critical thinking, and should not be overlooked as a valid form of learning and assessment. Technology integration serves to support the public speakers in their efforts for clearer presentation and thought.

When I look back over this past school year, I know I have used passion, planning, and perseverance to mold my students to becoming stronger readers, writers, and speakers. Their confidence, poise, and abilities have increased greatly.

Of course, the deadline of end of the year test scores still loom before me, but I know with all my heart that I've given my all, always adhering to the Common Core Standards.

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