Looking backwards before moving forwards
Before the previous day's lesson I explained the importance of citing evidence as "required by the Common Core State Standards." A student asked after class, "What was so important about these Common Core State Standards?" This was a great question and one that I wanted to address during today's activator as a whole class. I realized that I've been assuming students understood the what and whys of the Common Core but evidently more explanation was necessary before writing their open responses (aka on-demand in class informational essays).
For the activator I begin by asking the question, "What does the word standard mean and how does it pertain to what you are expected to learn?" I then ask them to share their answers with a partner before I pick on a few students to share with the whole class. Next I facilitate a short discussion of what standards are in education.
My simple explanation is that a standard is a written description of what students need to know and be able to do in different content areas.
Some of my students answers were pretty close to the definition I was hoping they would know but many others were not sure and gave answers that reflected their confusion. I realized that I should never assume they understand something because I "said it." Review is essential especially for information that acts as a foundation to their understanding and level of motivation to learn.
Sample students answers:
I begin by teaching and reviewing using a power point presentation: What are the Common Core Standards - Why are they....
Slide #2 brings you to the The Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) website that is a national organization representing the needs of urban public schools. I show them a 3 minute video that explains how the Common Core State Standards will help students achieve at high levels and help them learn what they need to know to get to graduation and beyond. I then facilitate a short discussion on what they heard and saw by answering any questions they may still have.
Slide #3 reviews what CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1 is and why it is relevant to answering the open response prompt. I then show slide#4 which is a review of the author's purpose in writing the informational article they read during the previous days lesson, RI.9-10.1.
Slides #5-6 addresses text dependent questions and asks students to demonstrate their skill in citing evidence from the article they read with a true/false assessment.
The last slide, #7, shows the open response prompt that they will be answering during today's lesson.
I ask students to take out their article "Why We Keep Losing Our Keys" by Sumathi Reddy as I pass out the Open Response and Rubric. I breifly review the rubric by reading it out loud as students read silently to themselves and ask what is needed for a 4, 3 and 2.
I also provide the P.E.E. Organizer for those students who request using them. At this point in the year some students prefer using an organizer while working on open response and others use it as a reference for writing their open response but do not write on it.
As my students are engaged in writing their responses (W.9-10.2) I circulate among them to ask clarifying questions while reminding them to use sufficient evidence to support their response as required in standard W.9-10.2b and to keep them focused on the task.
1 Piece of Evidence
During this Group Share I select a few students to share 1 piece of textual evidence they used to answer the prompt. As they give the piece of evidence I ask them to explain in their own words why this is accurate and specific to the prompt? This closing task helps me to do an informal check of whether students were able to find relevant and sufficient evidence (W.9-10.2b) as well as allow other students who may have struggled to find evidence to hear some examples from their peers.