Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Balance Literary and Informational Texts

As I continue to study and collaborate with teachers on implementation of the new standards, I recognize the connections among the major shifts more and more. Obviously, close reading and writing from sources (content of the last post) are easily linked.

Shift 1 calls for a 50% balance of literary and informational texts in the PK-5 classrooms. Primary and elementary teachers are asked to be deliberate in planning instruction around a balance of informational and literary reading and writing. Historically these grades have relied mostly on literature and narrative texts to teach skills in decoding, understanding, and metacognition.

However, our young learners need to build a foundation of knowledge about the physical and cultural world, in addition to learning about skills and literature's enduring themes. Informational texts in the elementary grades may be connected to the literature and to topics and standards of the science, social studies, math, art, music, health and physical education curricula. Even in the early grades, students can learn about the differences in learning to read and write, speak, listen, and use language in each of the disciplines.

The standards start to come alive as you look at Appendix B. Exemplars of grade level spans are presented in K-5 as literary and informational. In the K-1 and 2-3 spans, texts are further divided into read-aloud texts and the ones that students may be expected to read themselves. The books presented are meant to reflect the level of complexity that will be needed to challenge students to be better prepared throughout the grades and at graduation. In the 6-8, 9-10, and 11-CCR (college and career ready) spans, there are informational and literary texts listed for the English language arts, and additionally texts for history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. So, the case is made that while every student's literacy relies on every teacher that the student meets the English language arts teacher has a responsibility to incorporate both literature and information into the planning of lessons.

In addition the performance-based assessments that are associated with the texts in Appendix B provide a window into future expectations for linking the reading of related texts in order to understand various perspectives and write from sources to explain research or support a position. Massachusetts is a partner in the PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career) Consortium. They have been working with member states to develop a framework for curricular mapping that will demonstrate how the standards are integrated and may be used to prepare students for assessments based on the new standards. They anticipate releasing the content frameworks next month.

Check out the progress of PARCC and the Model Content Frameworks at http://www.parcconline.org/parcc-content-frameworks. Download a copy of Appendix B at http://www.doe.mass.edu/candi/commoncore/?section=supplementary.