CCSS Reading Nonfiction

A review so far:

How does CCSS break down the processes of reading as thinking? As I read Pathways to the Common Core, I am able to unpack the power of these standards.

The CCSS categories for both literary and informational reading are:

  • Key Ideas and Details — What is the meaning across the whole text?
  • Craft and Structure — How does the author create meaning across the text?
  • Integrate Knowledge and Ideas — Compare how authors create meaning in different texts?

Most importantly, the CCSS expect that students look for more than one idea or theme, backing their ideas up with evidence stated and inferred across the text(s). Conversations are key — in journals, in class discussions, in book clubs, with partners. Students start with understanding what the text says, then move to how the author crafted the text for us to glean that meaning, and finally compare one text to another to discern the patterns of themes and perspectives across texts to become engaged and critical readers. For informational texts, nonfiction, students must not be just gathering facts, but rather thinking about the meaning, assumptions, biases, and reasoning presented by the author through the details and the structure of the text. Students look for the perspective of the truth the text presents, sorting out and evaluating the author’s claims and reasoning to form one’s own opinions. The CCSS expect us to read to think.

What does reading to understand nonfiction look like?

Key Ideas and details — What does the text say and infer? What is the text about?

1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

Focus: Read closely to understand exactly what the text says and infers. Read enough of the text to get the main idea, then recite or retell what the main idea is. Soon the details will need to be categorized, sorted for understanding the big idea.

2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

Focus: As readers continue, we ask the same question as we did our stories, “What is this article starting to be about?” Our gist strategy from ReadWriteThink helps us develop the central idea of nonfiction texts. We then support our ideas with the details. The strategy helps students focus on the big idea and discover vocabulary that succinctly explains the ideas as they work through their retelling and sorting of information for Standard 1.  This standard moves us through the text, understanding how one part of the text adds to the next.  Students need to look for different ideas, not just one. In nonfiction of a complex nature, cause/effect, sequence, problem/solution include big ideas that lead to understanding a topic. Everything returns to the evidence within the text as the reader moves through it, which leads to Standard 3.

3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Focus: Return to the parts of the text to analyze ideas, relationships, events, people: How does the evidence (cause/effect, sequence, problem/solution) connect?

Craft and Structure — How did the author, through language and structure choices, promote a point of view?

4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

Focus: After and while determining the big ideas, begin to determine how the author’s use of words and phrases, images and media, create the point of views about the topics? Which words are most important? How do these words and phrases affect our understanding of the author’s point of view? How do they create a tone?

5. Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

Focus: While analyzing the language, consider the structure of the text — through paragraphs and sections — how does the way the information is presented (building on the language) affect our understanding of the author’s perspective? How does each part work to build this perspective?

6. Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

Focus: What perspectives are presented throughout the text?  How does the author’s style help us understand the perspective(s)? How does each part support or move us from one perspective to another? How do choices in words, tone of language, and the way the text is structured help us to understand the author’s point of view?

The evidence moves us through the standards, from language (4) to structure (5) to analyzing the point of view (6).

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas — Analyze different texts for content information, validity of argument and claims, compare how texts develop the content and claims.

7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

Focus: Compare articles, digital information, audio, video, primary texts on the same topic to evaluate how the information is presented and reasoned.

8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

Focus: Analyze how the author persuaded you: evaluate claims and reasoning, logic and supportive evidence. Look for logic, relevance, and validity. Follow the author’s claims to evaluate their validity.

9. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Focus: Compare how the authors persuaded you: evaluate claims and reasoning, logic and supportive evidence. Look for logic, relevance, and validity. Follow the authors’ claims to evaluate the validity of the information.

How do I prepare for reading and teaching nonfiction?

The CCSS obviously moves us away from a listing of facts and into the domain of thinking critically: we read to understand concepts, generalize ideas, and analyze arguments. Students need to be matched with readable texts, and they need strategies for asking thoughtful questions that go beyond the 5ws and move into generalization, perspective, and author’s choice in language and text structure. Readers will need to compare arguments, analyzing the logic, validity, and relevance of claims. They will need to look for the ideas, the details of which will support their analysis.

This year our classroom magazine is Scholastic Scope, which supports the CCSS and provides articles of nonfiction that present arguments for students to analyze. Resources are provided for more reading to compare the content and arguments. The Reading and Writing Project provides a list of digital texts for science, pop culture, and social studies. And I have discovered ProCon.org, with pro/con arguments of forty-three themed ideas, including resources for teachers.

As we move into nonfiction, I’ll add more to this reflection. For now, what framework do you use to develop critical thinking and analysis of nonfiction?

CCSS Reading Literature

How does CCSS break down the processes of reading as thinking? As I read Pathways to the Common Core, I am able to unpack the power of these standards.

The CCSS categories for both literary and informational reading are:

  • Key Ideas and Details — What is the meaning across the whole text?
  • Craft and Structure — How does the author create meaning across the text?
  • Integrate Knowledge and Ideas — Compare how authors create meaning in different texts?

Most importantly, the CCSS expect that students look for more than one idea or theme, backing their ideas up with evidence stated and inferred across the text(s). Conversations are key — in journals, in class discussions, in book clubs, with partners. Students start with understanding what the text says, then move to how the author crafted the text for us to glean that meaning, and finally compare one text to another to discern the patterns of themes and perspectives across texts to become engaged and critical readers.

How do we read literature to meet CCSS 2-9, the rungs of the literary ladder?

First, Standards 2, 3–

Key Ideas and details

2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

For literature, students will examine character motivation and cause/effect; they will look for logical consequences of the events. Why? For RL2 students analyze the details to support a variety of themes. For RL3, students ask, “What evidence throughout the story supports this?”

RL1 asks us to retell the story, inferring the meaning as we read.

RL2 begins with the question, “What is this story about?” to move to more embedded meanings as the story unfolds.

RL3 focuses on character interactions and reactions in events across the story, making connections that support or change their initial ideas about theme and character motivation based on what the text says. We ask, “What in the story makes us think that?”

RL1 2, 3 expect students to comprehend, infer, and synthesize. Next, Craft and Structure asks students to analyze HOW the author presents the story — the choice of words, phrases to create meaning, mood, and tone across the story to share a point of view of the author or the characters that have molded the content and developed a style.  Readers must consider meanings of words and reasons for those choices; they must analyze the events and images created as choice to help us understand a point of view or theme.

Craft and Structure

4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

5. Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

6. Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

RL4: Consider the language choices — what words are important and what do we notice about them? Why did the author choose these?

RL5: Consider sentences and paragraphs across the story — how to they build on the theme? How do these choices guide us towards the themes and character understanding? What evidence supports your ideas about the mood, tone, character, events?

RL6: Throughout the story, how does the author create a character’s point of view? his own? or shape your (reader) point of view? How do the differences in points of view create suspense? humor? themes?

To demonstrate RL 4, 5, 6, readers must notice the author’s choice in craft and structure. If readers have already inferred and synthesized the evidence for meaning, then the task for these standards is to notice HOW the author guided us to those meanings. This is the critical thinking to understand story, the sense of story an author creates — and our students can create in their own writing.

In order to carry the understanding of story (or informative explanations or persuasion) to a deeper level, students need to compare different treatments of similar themes. They need to integrate this critical thinking into patterns of knowledge and craft that will help them whenever they pick up a story (or nonfiction) to enjoy or learn. When students compare stories or texts, they become better at analyzing craft and structure. And of course understanding craft and structure, solidifies the meaning. The CCSS build upon each other.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence. (Not applicable to literature)

9. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

RL7: Compare movies or scripts, stories and poems.

RL9: Compare characterization and themes in different stories.

Short stories, picture books, and novels can work together to develop conversations and lessons the guide students to comparative thinking. The Global Read Aloud last year (Tuck Everlasting) provided our reading class with common story to which we could compare characters, settings, events, and themes. We’ve already discussed this year how the Natalie Babbitt used May’s Music Box, and that perhaps our story of Ivan this year might have the toy gorilla Not-Tag as a prop that we can refer to later in the story. These standards take time to implement, and the thinking involved must start early in primary classroom discussions.

In order to teach these reading literature standards, students need to read — a lot. They need choice in what they read to become engaged in quality reading. Once students are reading, they will own their understanding and want to share. Book clubs or partner reads provide this. Last year, when we started independent reading in my class, students formed their own partnerships (“Read this book with me; we can talk about it.”) I’m going to promote more of that this year through book talks. And they need to practice the thinking that these standards require. I need to demonstrate and model the strategies and questions, and immediately ask students to do so in their own books, providing feedback to their responses. When we read our short stories or models, I must allow students the chance to find the meaning and the evidence themselves, and to work through the story for the evidence. We’ll need to compare scenes and characters, discover similar language and phrases, consider possible symbolic objects, and work together to develop interpretations. Writing will be important to deepen their engagement with the text so feedback can be provided. Our previous state standards included grade level expectations that required specific teaching of skills, and the CCSS expects that our conversations and teaching include these as students discuss their interpretations of meaning and craft. However the focus will be on thinking and understanding based on text evidence; the skills will appear in that evidence, but it will be the analysis that is the focus — not the skills. Reading will be thinking, because it is.

What will I do this week? How will I create the steps in the ladder needed to think through the story?

We in grades 6 7 8 are participating in the Global Read Aloud. Last week we read facts about gorillas to help us understand how the author may have used that information as we move into the story. We used Post-its to note traits of the main character, Ivan.

Did the students understand the story so far?

Possible questions:

1a What is the story about so far?

1b What episodes in the story support your idea?

2 What do we know about the characters? What dialogue in the story helped us understand the characters?

3 How does the setting affect the characters words and actions?

4a How does Ivan feel about his domain at the beginning of the story? What evidence supports this?

4b How does Ivan feel about his domain now? What evidence supports this?

4c Compare how Bob and Ivan feel about their domains? How do you know? What’s the evidence.

4d How does the author help us understand how Bob and Ivan feel about their domains?

5a What words did the author use to help us understand how the characters (Ivan, Stella, Bob, Julia, Mack)  feel and act?

5b Which words are most important to the story? Why? What other words could the author have used?

Create a wordle based on one of the following questions. When you create your wordle, remember that the number of times you type a word will determine its size. To keep phrases together, use the ~ (Ivan~is~patient). When you create your wordle, choose the best color to represent your ideas. Choose the layout that best displays your ideas. Choose the word arrangement that best presents your meaning. You will be asked to explain your choices — look after the questions below.

Choose one question:

1. What 10 main-idea phrases summarize the story?

2. What 10 pairs of words compare Bob and Ivan’s feelings about their domains so far in the story?

3. What 10 pairs of words to explain the lives of Stella and Ruby?

Create your wordle in a way that helps us all understand your interpretation.

Explain:

Why you chose your words?

Why you chose to enlarge certain words?

Why you chose the arrangement of your words?

Why you chose the colors?

Why you chose the layout (horizontal, vertical, half and half, etc.)?

These five story questions lead us from literal and inferential evidence of meaning to how the author used language to guide us to those meanings. The wordle puts the reader into author mode, choosing the most important words from the story and presenting them in a way that demonstrates their importance.

What questions do you use to frame a story to meet CCSS?

CCSS 1 and 10

Preparing students to be college and career ready is a daunting task, but one teachers have always strived for, at least the ones I know.

Pathways to the Common Core suggests that the CCSS 1 and 10 form the posts of a ladder to which standards 2-9 are the rungs. Here’s what I’ve learned from Pathways to the Common Core:

Standards 1, 10:

1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

10. Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

These are the “running record” standards — the basics of understanding exactly what the text says — and to read grade-level texts proficiently.

How do we know the complexity of a text? Qualitative measures provide a way to best decide this through an analysis of meaning structure, language conventions and clarity, and knowledge demands.  Judge the text complexity by looking at how the text provides access to meaning through its structure; is the meaning explicit or implicit? Is the structure conventional? Is the language literal, figurative, discipline-specific? Is the knowledge expected general or specialized? CCSS has suggests the Lexile measure combined with qualitative analysis. In addition, the CCSS also acknowledge prior knowledge and motivation as factors to text understanding.

What is expected for literal comprehension?  It’s what one would expect: does the student understand what the text actually says and infers? Our focus last year on ABC response to questions did just that: A – Answer the question. B- Back it up with evidence from the story. C- Conclude with your main evidence. Be sure to read across the CCSS grade levels to understand what was expected in previous grade levels; the previous is embedded in the current grade level. Close reading of complex texts is expected.  Students need to be able to (in literary and informational texts) understand how the idea or literary element develops throughout the text, from beginning to end. They need to recognize patterns and connect the details to the whole of the text.

What is required of the teacher?

I need to assess where students are (running records throughout the year) and move them up the levels of text complexity. It should be noted that the work of Fountas and Pinnell match the CCSS literary complexity. I need to match students to books, guiding them to move up the levels of complexity by helping them set achievable goals. Fortunately, our librarian can really help with this. Last year we doubled up on our reading time, adding independent reading time. As soon as students found books they actually could read, reading became important to them. This is so important to helping students get into the reading levels needed in their content reading. Our older students can join “Goodreads” to track their reading stats. We also have Accelerated Reader to implement this year, but the focus needs to be on choice. The goal is always 95% accuracy, fluency, and comprehension.  The number one research stat: students need to read a lot! That means time actually reading, and that’s what we have added into our school day.

Resources to use:

Benchmark Reading Levels

Book Lists

Classroom Libraries – leveled texts

Units of Study

Assessments   Own Choice Assessment

Right now grades 6 7 8 are participating in the Global Read Aloud. I have copies of the text for each student. It’s a marvelous opportunity to  model, teach, and discuss the text evidence literally and inferentially as a class. It’s important to keep the focus on retelling and analyzing the evidence, and not connections to self/world.  Everything in the CCSS Standard 1 is focused on understanding what the text says and what that infers. After modeling, students work in small groups to practice, then we share our ideas and blog with other schools in Kidblog. Now that I’m reflecting on the information in Pathways to the Common Core, I see we are on the right track. We’ve started the foundation of our ladder to success.

How about you? What helps you and your students meet goals one and ten?


 

Photo Credit:

Ladder: Flickr CC by Christop

CCSS Study

Our school moves to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)?  What does that mean? How do these standards change the way I teach and students learn? What do I need to do to implement these standards?

Our previous state standards included grade level expectations that mostly do fit into the CCSS as parts of the deeper, more complex standards of CCSS.  It is important to note that the CCSS do have authors: David Coleman and Sue Pimentel. And the document ratified by the forty-six states states, “the Standards define what all students are expected to know and be able to do, not how teachers should teach” (2010a, 6).

To help me implement the CCSS, I’m studying the book, Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement by Lucy Calkens, Mary Ehrenworth, and Chris Lehman.

The first thing is to undertand that this implementation does fall into the purview of principals and teachers, who are free to use the tools and knowledge of their professional judgments to determine how to meet these goals.

The CCSS demand of even young students the ability to analyze multiple texts and explain the relationships between ideas and author’s craft. Students need to read lots of types of texts and books, engage in conversations in which they support their ideas with evidence from the text, both literal and inferred. Reading and writing are equally important because higher-order comprehension and critical thinking matters. This focus emphasizes the importance of critical citizenship — expecting evidence, noting viewpoints, discerning misinformation.  The curriculum will build, a spiral of goals that will take time as teachers plan together to lead students into deeper critical thinking about more complex texts so that students grow into asking their own key questions and think and write about their analysis of multiple sources when researching their answers. No longer is just the reading and writing teacher responsible for language arts; cross-curricular and interdisciplinary units will help guide students to become critical thinkers of complex information.

We will need to look at what we already do well, and set goals to improve. We’ll need to find the gaps and create a plan to reform our curriculum with an emphasis in a spiral, cross-curricular reading and writing. Writing is a tool for thinking across disciplines. An hour writing workshop and at least forty-five minutes of choice reading time is vital.  We will need many high-interest just-right books. Running records will indicate where each student is, and we’ll need to focus on higher-level comprehension — reading for meaning — at all levels. Writing focus on narrative, explanation, and persuasive forms. In reading and writing, understanding points of view is critical to understanding reading and communicating clearlyK

Look at levels two and three of Webb’s depth-of-knowledge hierarchy for an indication of what is expected in the CCSS.  Math 3-5   Reading    Bloom/Webb  Assessments  21C DOK   NYCDOE DOK    Students need to be able to sort, categorize, compare, contrast, evaluate, analyze, reason.

The CCSS includes nine reading skills — analyze them across grade levels to see how each successive grade level expectation builds on what went before, and all expect the student to base understanding directly from text evidence and inference, not from a reader’s connection to that text. CCSS skill 10 refers to grade level text reading across the nine skills. Everything is about making meaning. Students need to converse in analytic, text-based discussions; read-alouds and “accountable talk” form a basis for creating lessons in manageable steps with feedback and ample practice in a variety of texts and text complexity.  Hopefully students can form book clubs in teams or with partners so they learn to carry their reading strategies and skills learned into any area independently.

As for me, I plan to dig out my running record work, watch videos at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, and continue learning about the reading and writing standards in the CCSS. I’ve created a LiveBinder of CCSS links

What about you? Has your state or school adopted the CCSS? How are you learning to implement these standards?