"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, January 20, 2013

New Common-Core Unit for ELLs: No support from research, no evidence they will work.

Re: Three Districts Test Model Common-Core Unit for ELLs.

We are told that the newly announced unit on Reading and Writing Persuasion features a “shift”: the two elements of this shift are “an explicit focus on language” and “complex texts.” Both are bad ideas. Decades of research tell us that focus on form does not help in the acquisition of forms: rather, forms are acquired through focus on meaning. Also, making texts complex and rigorous will not help language acquisition or literacy development. Texts need to be interesting (even compelling) and comprehensible without a struggle. Academic literacy development comes from massive exposure to interesting reading, not brief and intensive instruction on texts that may or may not be interesting and that are only comprehensible with complex interventions.
Neither the designers of the new materials nor Education Week appear to be even aware of the conflict between the new materials and what research has established. The only empirical data supporting the efficacy of the new approach so far is the report of one student (cited in Common Core and ELLs: Reading and Writing Persuasion, Ed Week, Jan 16).
Why is Ed Week dedicating so much space to these materials?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting and disappointing. It sounds as if the curriculum is being driven more by politics than research--As if to lock in inferred inferiority rather than give opportunity.

    I'd like them try a comprehension test on those quick Spanish phrases that I see local children respond to but can't be found in any dictionary.

    I want them to identify the one-syllable asides I hear in the barber shop that seem full of subtle meaning to the few who are privy to the language and who double over in laughter. Ask what the sound means and they will insist, "Nothing. It's not a word."

    I want them to explain the correct meaning in Spanish poetry full of subjunctives, preterites, and the pronomials "se," "le," and "lo."

    I want them to give ELLs the same gradual opportunities to soak in the subtleties of a language that they themselves had.