Home › Forums › Linguistics for Teachers of Emergent Bilinguals Course Forum › Session 2 The Language & Literacy Demands of a Unit › Reflections on the Common Core
Tagged: Edison Burgos
March 12, 2021 at 5:07 pm #1813
Based on the mini lecture and the reading, how has the information in Session 2 made you think, or changed your thinking, about the role of the standards in your teaching practice with regard to emergent bilingual (and all) students? How do you see yourself implementing Language and Literacy objectives for your unit and lessons?
March 29, 2021 at 6:29 pm #1831Savannah McEntireParticipant
As I listened to the mini-lecture I found myself nodding along and audibly agreeing with the things that you were saying. This current school year, in my main weekday teaching job (I also teach at a separate school on Saturdays for Saturday school) I am teaching kindergarten. There is so much pressure from my administration for students to be reading at a specific level at a specific time, and so much of our day is devoted to reading. This sounds great, but a giant portion of it is dedicated to guided reading groups where there is so much emphasis placed on those “abstract” or “secondary” skills as you described them. I find it difficult, with my students, most of whom are learning English, to focus on such abstract things, but that is the constant feedback from administration to my team. That skills taught and questions asked need to be transferrable so that they can be applied to any text, and not text specific to the text we are reading. For example, one of my reading groups is 3 students who are emergent bilingual learners and below grade level in reading. We use F&P and these students are reading level A books when the expectation at this point in the year is level C. These students first, in my opinion need to solidly understand what happened in a story and be able to articulate it before expecting them to answer these abstract inferential questions, requiring them to provide text evidence, etc. But the constant feedback to my team is that at any level students need to articulate the “deepest meaning” or main idea of the text at the end of each guided reading lesson. My 5 year old students are stressed. I am stressed. There is so much pressure. It doesn’t feel developmentally appropriate.
I appreciated how in the lecture you walked us through various supports you would provide to students and prompts that might be used to give them access to the content and the standards. I look forward to finding ways to use these supports to better assist all students.
The Saturday School classes I teach are ELA classes for 3rd and 4th grade students, many of whom speak Chinese as their native language. I am hoping to also find ways to implement these supports for those students as well. While they have a stronger mastery of English, I still notice gaps in academic language that hold them back in some areas of our work.
When reading the article for this session, the section of the text that most resonated with me was on page 10 titled “Topic Knowledge May Support the Acquisition and Use of Reading Comprehension Strategies.” In this section, the author explained that students who have a background knowledge or schema on the subject or content of the text were able to more successfully employ comprehension strategies when reading. When students understand the content of the text, they are able to more effectively use comprehension strategies to answer inferential questions, because their focus is not on understanding what the text is saying literally, but using the information in the text and their prior knowledge to construct a deeper understanding of the content. This speaks directly to our work with emergent bilingual learners, who often times are working really hard just to understand what a text is saying due to lower proficiency in the English language, or limited background knowledge of the content. It makes sense that these students would struggle more or take longer to master various comprehension strategies because their focus is not entirely on those comprehension strategies and inferences, but a portion of not most of their effort is used to simply understand the text literally.
Another section that I felt was very informative and important was on page 12 titled “Distinguishing Between Knowledge Activation and Knowledge Building.” There is a heavy emphasis on knowledge activation at the beginning of reading lessons, in my experience, but under the assumption that students have knowledge that can be activated. There is little emphasis on knowledge building for students who may have little to know background knowledge on a particular topic. I was interested to read that “it is not clear that all knowledge activation activities support comprehension” since there is such a significant focus on this in many schools. It seems that activating prior knowledge without time spent to determine which of that knowledge is accurate and relevant may actually inhibit comprehension. This piece is what is missing often times in a reading lesson.
I think that this is the biggest piece for me to consider in my Unit Analysis. I want to find meaningful ways to embed knowledge building (not just activation) that will support students in engaging with texts to understand them at the deepest level. This has been missing in my previous lessons aside from pre-teaching one or two vocabulary words from the text. I want to find more meaningful ways to build background knowledge for students so that they can focus on comprehension strategies.
March 31, 2021 at 2:53 pm #1835
Savannah, thank you for this very insightful post. I think teachers instinctively know how to help their students, but often are simply prevented from doing it. We can talk more about this if you like – but for now, I want you to frame essential comprehension and background knowledge of the text as “Main idea and details” (Standards 1 and 2). If your admin asks, you might say “We’re doing main idea and details first, then practicing character traits.” Maybe you could divide a Guided Reading lesson over 2 days, main idea on Day 1 and character traits on Day 2, after the children have a better handle on the story.
Guided Reading is done so differently across schools – it could be an excellent opportunity to work in Close Groups with students for essential comprehension, vocab, and fluency; on the other hand, it can be ineffective – there is no real empirical evidence that Guided Reading is one concept, and that it even works.
I’m going to encourage you to work under the radar as much as you can – activate knowledge, pre teach vocabulary, read aloud, practice on sounding out CVC words, and focus on Big Picture concepts – then target “the skills” by asking text dependent questions around those skills. Focus on the Wh question words and what connection they could have to the skills. Let’s talk more about this when you have a chance!
July 16, 2021 at 3:07 pm #2125Koren StanislausParticipant
Walking me through the background history of the development of the Common Core Standards (CCS) and the very notion that these standards were created with no input from the professionals who would use them in schools is mind boggling. Then it gets better…the first grade CCS were unbelievable on many levels…it’s like learning how to run before you can walk. I totally agree with with the comment that the 1st grade CCS would be more appropriate for higher grades. Now that I have expressed my shock I would like to bring my comments to the CCS for ELA, which I am more familiar with for 6-12the grade, they seem to be the same for each additional grades with slight adjustments. The skills that students use to demonstrate meeting standards remain about the same, but the end products become more complex as the grades increase. So for example, in 6th grade you write a five paragraph essay using one source and by 12th grade you must be able to write up to a 10 page paper or more using several sources.
When it comes to our emergent language learners in my school, I sometimes differentiate by reducing the length of the paper. So instead of five paragraphs, three would suffice, and working in smaller groups or one on one depending on the students needs. While viewing video, I was really impressed by how one can create appropriate Learning Targets that still meets CCS. Looking forward to learning more..
August 15, 2021 at 8:44 pm #2208Victor BarrientosParticipant
I agree with you when you says Walking me through the background history of the development of the Common Core Standards (CCS) and the very notion that these standards were created with no input from the professionals who would use them in schools is mind boggling.
I believe the teacher knows better their students than anybody and it is not fair that other people take control or dictate how the students learn batter or what they need to be successful in life.
July 19, 2021 at 1:30 pm #2132
Hi Koren! There are so many issues with the Common Core….sigh… It IS important for teachers to have a global understanding of what they are…in the end, students will be able to achieve those skills if they are strong readers and writers. We get them to be strong readers and writers by focusing on foundational skills as I outlined and comprehension….then we get them analyzing more and more. I love your differentiation technique to reduce the amount of paragraphs – yes! It’s more important that students can write a solid intro, body, and concluding paragraph than a 5 paragraph essay that is unfocused.
August 15, 2021 at 8:33 pm #2206Victor BarrientosParticipant
By listen the mini-lecture about the background history of the development of the Common Core Standards (CCS) and knowing that these standards were created with no input from the professionals who would use them in schools and using political ideas to create is really at some point made me feel so disappointed about the systems. Most of the information you were saying I agree with them . The CCSS has not really prepared teachers how to implement the CCSS inside the classroom , most of the teachers has not been trained in the implementation of the CCSS. I am teaching 10th grade high school students and most of the time we have too much pressure from admin requiring us that students should be reading at a specific level ,without thinking that most of our students are emergent language learners.While viewing the video,I recognize the all teachers would be responsible for teaching reading and writing skills to all students ,by creating appropriate Learning Targets that still meets CCS. In my teaching practice with regard to emergent bilingual (and all) students, I will use instructional practice that support knowledge, by teaching student to develop skills to generate their own questions about topic by writing them.This strategy will help me to get insight into my students by activating their prior knowledge.
When reading the article for this session, the section of the text that was most relevant to me . Was Instructional Practices that Support Knowledge Activation and Knowledge Building Content-Area Learning. The most important way to ensure that students are building knowledge for future reading and disciplinary study is to engage them in rich and substantial content-area learning filled with
opportunities for reading, writing, and discussion. I truly believe on this statement by the research page 14.
Also on page 16 another session of the article was :Knowledge enhancement through the selection of texts. Texts have the potential to be significant resources for knowledge development; however, much depends on the texts we select.
It is in part in the selection of texts where choices about knowledge-enhancement are made. In an ideal world, students would always be reading meaningful texts and all of these texts would be connected to themes, experiences, or other texts. Text selection is crucial for student increase the level of understanding if the themes are connected.
August 17, 2021 at 12:38 pm #2212
Victor, you hit on so many important points. As a 10th grade math teacher, your job is a bit different than in the ELA or ENL classroom. Math IS a universal language that doesn’t require English – HOWEVER that when we are talking symbols. When students need to learn concepts, talk through problem solving and solve word problems, then language can become a major barrier.
Let’s think of ways to transfer the ideas I present in the lectures into your math classroom – pre-teaching vocabulary with bilingual supports; having students review familiar concepts, then build on background knowledge; explicit modeling, followed by guided and independent practice; read alouds for word problems while annotating text; multiple read alouds of a problem for fluency and comprehension; students in the 10th grade can be TRANSLATING word problems from English into Spanish, both in writing or orally. Most importantly, students should be using their math vocabulary and, with the help of sentence frames or starters, ORALLY explaining to you and their classmates how to solve the problems. You give them the modeling and vocab, they have to use their language to go with you through the guided practice. Then, they have to show you that they can do it by themselves.
One thing I also want to mention: many of your students may not have foundational math skills like addition, subtraction or multiplication – how can you infuse your instruction with regular practice in these basic skills as they are working on their 10th grade skills, I know it’s asking a lot, but let’s think.
I hope this gives you some feedback and ideas. We can talk further if you wish.
September 8, 2021 at 8:38 am #2296Edison BurgosParticipant
In the Mini-Lecture 2 “The language & Literacy Demands of a Unit,” Dr. Heidrick discusses the history of the Common Core and the significance for English Language Learner (emergent students) and analyzes how to write “concrete” language and literacy objectives. The discussion begins with the origins of the standards, and the United States ranking, on the list of PISA 2018 Worldwide ranking, the 25th position.
What are the Common Core Learning Standards?
The mini lecture highlights the deficiency of learning standards. The limits are lack of enough research, rolls out without a pilot program, emerging bilingual students ignored, teachers were not trained properly, and a fantastic opportunity for publishing companies to profit from it.
Regular practice with complex text, analyze and defend claims, informational texts are primary sources, and all teachers are teachers of reading and writing are the shifts of the Common Core Learning Standards. These shifts are major problems for emergent bilingual students and students living in poverty. Standards and shifts do not give enough time to develop bilingual and low-income students’ basic knowledge of language acquisition. Therefore, inadequate language development guarantees academic failures.
The Common Core Learning Standards are the set of knowledge, concepts and the skills related to concepts that students are expected to learn in reading, writing, math and other subjects in each grade. Learning standards such as the Common Core, which do not have basic research-based principles, cannot guarantee academic success. When I return to teach for SY 2021-2022, the correct implementation of the content, language and literacy objectives are my focus of attention for emergent bilingual students. And I will avoid the faults found in the standards. To achieve this, it is necessary to identify students with reading, writing and oral language deficiency. Additionally, an achievable action plan must be designed in each unit and lesson plan. Decoding, phonics and knowledge of building content is skillfully delivered.
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