With an audience of teachers and administrators interested in teaching the modules, the Public Consulting Group (PCG) began with a quick overview of the layout of the modules to orient educators who were unfamiliar with them. Participants looked at the ninth grade module and unit overviews to gain insight into the key design considerations of the modules including attending to the standards, text pacing, close reading, and writing.
There are three structures and systems designed to support curriculum and instruction:
- Homework should be research-informed, consistent, and scaffolded. The purposes of homework include building student familiarity with the Common Core, practicing analytical and processing skills, and addressing the volume of reading students engage in in order to become college and career ready. Participants discussed how the approach to homework assignments in the modules differs from some current practices and any challenges that teachers may face as they implement the homework assignments in their classrooms. Major challenges include holding students accountable for their homework and also deciding what it is you actually want to assess through the homework. Various solutions were offered, including:
– providing feedback on a collection of homework assignments rather than on a daily basis; and
– using a different colored pen for students to add new thoughts (from classroom discussion) to the original thinking they wrote down for their homework assignment.
- Accountable Independent Reading (AIR) is a major part of the homework assignments. Students are expected to engage in AIR for homework at least twice each week. They also become fully aware of the Common Core standards through independent reading as the language of the standards is used in the homework assignments. Teachers discussed how focused reading makes homework less intimidating and more accessible for struggling readers. Differentiating homework expectations was mentioned as another solution to fully engage students who are not able to complete assignments as assigned.
- Annotation helps students achieve deeper textual understanding and supports and scaffolds students to becoming more independent readers. Students should be able to revisit their annotated texts later in the school year to help build in cognitive complexity throughout the units. Teachers talked about how the annotation skill is introduced to the students at the start of the module and scaffolded throughout the units.
This was a productive session that introduced teachers to the various structures that will help support their classroom instruction. Homework, independent reading, and annotation of text play an integral role in the 9-12 modules. Many ideas were shared and rich conversations resulted in a greater understanding of how these structures help to build students’ reading and note-taking skills.