Next Generation Literacy Assessments – Are You Ready Middle Grades?

November 2nd, 2012 by Diane Lauer Leave a reply »

Over the past year, educators in Colorado have been fine tuning their curriculum and instruction to the new literacy standards published by the Common Core State Standards initiative (CCSS) which were adopted by our Colorado Department of Education. Academic specialists have identified 6 Pedagogical Shifts demanded by the Common Core State Standards in Literacy.

6 Pedagogical Shifts

Click on the image to enlarge.

These six shifts generalize the overall differences between our old set of learning expectations, and the new learning expectations for students.  The chart above was captured from EngageNY, a New York State side dedicated to assisting educators with the transition to the Common Core and the new Educator Effectiveness agenda.

Viewing the Common Core in PARCC’s Eyes

Now, we have another resource to align our schema, the Model Content Frameworks created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).  In August, our state department of education announced that we would use the next generation literacy and math assessments created by the PARCC consortia beginning most likely during the 2014-15 school year. The PARCC Model Content Frameworks provide an exceptional overview of what middle level students need to know, understand, and be able to do.

Try this:

Open the grade level document of your choice in either 6th, 7th or 8th grade. While reading, and underline passages within the PARCC Model Content Frameworks that indicate evidence for one or more of the six pedagogical shifts. For example, while reading the 6th Grade Model Content Frameworks, I underlined this portion of text, “The balance of student writing at this level is 70 percent analytical (35 percent argument and 35 percent to explain/inform) and 30 percent narrative, with a mix of on-demand and review-and-revision writing assignments.”  I believe this statement is an example of Shift 1, balancing informational and literary texts.

What do you notice about the learning expectations in the grade level you examined? Did you identify areas where increased text complexity is expected? Did you see evidence of the importance of academic vocabulary? Did you notice how students will need to use text based evidence to support their thinking?

Infusing Best Practices from the Literacy Design Collaborative

Several Colorado districts have been integrating the strategies developed by the Literacy Design Collaborative.  These strategies are posted on an emerging resource curated by ASCD called EduCore.  The funding for our training was acquired by the Colorado Legacy Foundation. In 2011, the Colorado Legacy Foundation won a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant to implement the Literacy Design Collaborative training in select districts to support their efforts in our state’s educator effectiveness agenda.

Watch this Video on Rethinking Literacy

Click on the image to go to the EduCore site to watch this video

The LDC work is many faceted

The scope of the LDC work is the Module.  A module is a specific unit of learning designed around targeted Common Core standards.  Teachers of English Language Arts, Social Studies, Science and Other Technical Subjects are taught how to center their instruction around an outcome expectation called a Performance Task.

The heart of the LDC Module is the Performance Task. The LDC has created a simple formula to assist teachers in designing strategically aligned performance tasks with the Common Core literacy standards, most especially in the areas of accessing grade level appropriate text and producing products of thinking/writing in the areas of argument, information, and narrative.  They have created a menu of Performance Task Templates that can be modified and used in multiple situations in all types of content areas.  Let’s look at the Argumentation Template Tasks to get an idea of what how the templates work. 

A Template Task for Argumentation

Click on the image to enlarge  The LDC Performance Template Tasks provide a structure so that teachers can easily create their own tasks aligned to different student learning expectations. Notice the blanks, those were intentionally created to allow flexibility for teacher design.  These template can be used in multiple situations in different content areas. The LDC has designed:

  • 10 different Template Tasks  to support the Argumentation expectations 
  • 15 different Template Tasks to support Explanatory/Informational expectations
  • 4 Template Tasks to support the Narrative expectations.

They have also created rubrics aligned with each of the three types of tasks: Argument, Explanatory/Informational, and Narrative.

To access all of the LDC Performance Template Tasks and Rubrics click here.
To watch videos to learn how to use the LDC Performance Template Tasks, click here.
To review sample teaching  Modules in Argumentation, click here.

Are you Ready for the Next Generation Assessments?

Likely, you are more ready than you thought.  But, to continue your preparation:

  1. Take some time to review the 6 Pedagogical Shifts and begin making the shift in your own teaching
  2. Review the LDC Template Tasks, and use them as a skeleton for your own student task development
  3. Seek out additional support from the multitude of sources online and experts in your own vicinity.
Advertisement

Leave a Reply

*

Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree