Education Week - May 13, 2015 - Special Report - (Page S2)

S2 | EDUCATION WEEK EDUCATION WEEK MAY 13, 2015 n n MAY 13, 2015 Building Literacy Skills > Building Literacy Skills > Teachers Turn to New Read-Aloud Strategies For Common-Core Era Questioning techniques transform story time for youngest learners North Las Vegas, Nev. R READING A PICTURE BOOK ALOUD from her armchair, 20 children gathered on the rug at her feet, kindergarten teacher Jamie Landahl is carrying on a practice that's been a cornerstone of early-literacy instruction for decades. But if you listen closely, you'll see that this is not the read-aloud of your childhood. Something new and very different is going on here. What's happening in Ms. Landahl's classroom at Ruby Duncan Elementary School reflects a major shift in reading instruction brought about by the Common Core State Standards. In place in more than 40 states, the standards expect children to read text carefully and be able to cite evidence from it to back up their interpretations. That approach requires teachers to pose "text-dependent" questions- those that can be answered only with a detailed understanding of the material, rather than from students' own experience. And it's not just for complex high school books; it's increasingly being used in reading stories aloud to young children. Ms. Landahl's lesson on a recent afternoon showed the strategy in action. As she turned the pages of Patricia Polacco's Thunder Cake, she didn't ask her students to share their feelings or experiences. Instead, she posed a series of questions that gently guided the class back to the story for answers. The book recounts how the author's grandmother taught her to manage her fear of thunderstorms by learning to tell how far away they were and hurrying to bake a cake before the rain began. The teacher asked a cluster of questions aimed at helping the children understand that the author is also the narrator. "I wonder who's telling this story? Turn and talk to your buddy," she said. And then: "Oh, so the character is also the author?" When the narrator described the "sharp crackling light" that frightened her, Ms. Landahl said: "What is she scared of?" Hands shot up. "Thunder!" some children called out. "Well, that's the sound," Ms. Landahl replied. "She can see the light, right?" There was a momentary pause, and then a girl said: "It's lightning." Ms. Landahl embedded vocabulary instruction into the lesson, too. When the story said that Grandma took a deep breath as she watched the horizon, Ms. Landahl put on a confused face and said: "Hmmm. What do you think 'horizon' means?" The pupils took several passes at a definition, but struggled. Ms. Landahl pointed to the place in the picture where the sky meets the land. Continuing, she asked: "Why did Grandma take a deep breath when she looked at the horizon?" "Maybe she was thinking about something," one boy volunteered. "Or maybe she was trying to calm down," a girl next to him said. "She was thinking what will she do, because the storm is coming," said another girl. Teacher-Written Lessons In that way, the children made their way through the book, piecing together its meaning. Then Ms. Landahl read the story again, and they acted out the parts in the book. Some children jumped up and roared when thunder appeared, and others stood up and shook little paper lightning bolts. Others played the protagonist, counting aloud the seconds between the lightning and the thunder, as the book shows her grandmother teaching her to do. The Thunder Cake lesson is one of 82 that have been written collaboratively by more than 300 teachers across the country and stored online as part of a collective effort called the Read-Aloud Project. The " In classes like ours, asking 'Who's been to the ocean?' might reach only a couple of our kids. We're in the middle of the desert." KATRINA MARTINEZ Instructional Coach Clark County (Nev.) School District Washington-based Council of the Great City Schools, which represents large urban districts, and Student Achievement Partners, in New York City, which supports common-core implementation, launched the project in 2013 to build a warehouse of free common-core-aligned lessons that teachers can use as is, or modify to fit their students' needs. The 318,000-student Clark County school district has waded deep into the work, using the Read-Aloud Project in all 218 of its elementary schools this year. A good chunk of the $7.5 million it spent on elementary-level books was for the texts that Read-Aloud Project lessons are built around, said Wendy Roselinsky, the district's director of K-12 literacy and language development. District leaders see the ReadAloud Project-dubbed "rap"-as a key strategy in improving literacy skills in a student population that often struggles with reading. Focus on Content Lindsay Tomlinson, the assistant principal at Ruby Duncan Elementary, which enrolls 685 children, helped bring rap to Clark County after participating in its early development. She's a big fan of the By Catherine Gewertz

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - May 13, 2015 - Special Report

Education Week - May 13, 2015 - Special Report
Teachers Turn to New Read-Aloud Strategies For Common-Core Era
Alabama Coaches Up Literacy Lessons
Broadening the Push for Grade-Level Reading
Forget Word Lists: Vocabulary Lessons Start With Context
Should 3rd Grade Be Pivot Point for Early Reading?
Fluency Still Seen as Neglected Skill

Education Week - May 13, 2015 - Special Report