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

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

David Coleman's Common Core Shows How Less Can Be More, Boring

Somehow I missed this in October from Perdido Street, but it is priceless:

NYSED ELA Lesson Module - 17 Days On One Short Story
As I posted earlier this week, the teachers who have had the misfortune to have to use the Common Core lesson modules provided by NYSED at a website they call Engage NY have found that the material is so full of mind-numbing, soul-sucking drudgery that they had lost the interest of students by the second week of school.

I have heard many complaints from teachers about one module that has students read and re-read one short story over and over and over and over for 17 straight days...

Lesson    Text    Learning Outcomes/Goal   

1    St. Lucy’s (p. 225: title, Stage 1 epigraph, and paragraph 1)    Students will begin the curriculum learning to read closely as they examine an excerpt from Karen Russell’s short story, “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.” They will explore the structural complexity of this as they examine the epigraph, a description of Stage 1 of Lycanthropic Culture Shock.     

2    St. Lucy’s (pp. 225–235: Stages 1 and 2)    Students will listen to a read-aloud of the first half of the story. This lesson provides important fluency support and introduces students to some of the text’s central concerns. Students are introduced to the narrator, Claudette, and the rest of her pack, as they begin to consider the narrative arcs of the main characters.   
3    St. Lucy’s (pp. 235–246: Stage 3 to the end of text)
    This lesson concludes the read-aloud of the text and ensures students have sufficient familiarity with the arc of this story to engage fully in the close reading activities in subsequent lessons. The lesson assessment asks students to identify one of the text’s central concerns and practice marshalling textual evidence to support their thinking.       

4    St. Lucy’s (pp. 226–227: From“‘Ay caramba,’ Sister Maria de la Guardia sighed.” to “Neither did they.”)    Students will return to the Stage 1 narrative to uncover connections between the Stage 1 epigraph and the Stage 1 narrative. Students will look more closely at Claudette, Mirabella, and Jeanette—the three main characters in the text—and consider how Russell’s precise language helps us understand both the girls and their experience at St. Lucy’s.     
5    St. Lucy’s (pp. 225–227: Beginning of text to “Neither did they.”)     This lesson introduces students to text annotation and reinforces the value of rereading a text multiple times. Students will consider the reason the girls are at St. Lucy’s while practicing using their annotations as a tool to find evidence.     
6    St. Lucy’s (pp. 227–229: Stage 1, from “That first afternoon, the nuns gave us free rein of the grounds.” to “It can be a little overstimulating.”)    Students will continue to learn the close reading skill of annotation as they begin, for the first time, to interrogate Russell’s text by considering the accuracy of the Stage 1 epigraph. This serves as an introduction to a key tension in the work and establishes a foundation students will use to challenge this and other texts in lessons and units to come.

7    St. Lucy’s (pp. 229 –231: from “Stage 2: After a time …” to “… cocked her ears at us, hurt and confused.”)    Students will continue to develop the skill of answering text-dependent questions through writing as they analyze Stage 2 of Lycanthropic Culture Shock more deeply. This lesson introduces students to the NY Regents Text Analysis Rubric. In this and subsequent lessons, they will refine their understanding of text analysis by using this rubric to assess their work.

8    St. Lucy’s (pp. 231–235: from “Still, some things remained the same.” to “This was a Stage 3 thought.”)    This lesson deepens students’ consideration of the developing rifts at St. Lucy’s. Through Claudette’s eyes, they examine the experiences and development of the three main characters. Here, students will refine their ability to marshal textual evidence by learning how to paraphrase and directly quote evidence in their writing as they prepare for the Mid-Unit Assessment.
9    St. Lucy’s (pp. 235–239: from “Stage 3: It is common that…” to “Jeanette got a hole in one.”)    Students will continue to read closely and answer text-dependent questions as they begin a deep examination of Stage 3. Here they will consider some of the difficult choices Claudette makes, deepening their understanding of how Russell develops this character. In this lesson, students will prepare the Mid-Unit Assessment through collaborative discussion.

10    St. Lucy’s (pp. 239–241: from “On Sundays, the pretending felt almost as natural…” to “…how the pack felt about anything.”)    Students will demonstrate their understanding of the text they have read by writing a formal response to the Mid-Unit Assessment prompt. After the assessment, students will continue their examination of Stage 3, practicing their annotation skills. 

11    St. Lucy’s (pp. 239–245: from “On Sundays, the pretending felt almost as …” to “… that was our last communal howl.”)    In this lesson, students consolidate their understanding of Stage 3 and move toward an exploration of the text’s climax in Stage 4. Students will review their reading annotation from Lesson 10 by participating in a Text-Dependent Questions Gallery Walk that will continue students’ work with text analysis through an evidence-based discussion. Students will again dip into a subtle interrogation of the text by considering the veracity of the Stage 4 epigraph for the characters.

12    St. Lucy’s (pp. 245–246: from the Stage 5 epigraph through the end of the text)    Students will work collaboratively with a partner, using the NY Regents Text Analysis Rubric to revise their Mid-Unit Assessment. Students will conclude their analysis of Stages 4 and 5 and consider Claudette’s assimilation process.    
13    Entire Text    This lesson begins students’ analysis of the St. Lucy’s text as a whole. Working in groups, students will analyze the different stages of Lycanthropic Culture Shock. This work supports the final unit assessment that asks students to look critically at Claudette and make a claim about her ability to assimilate into human culture.      

14    Entire Text    This lesson continues students’ exploration of the key ideas, characters and central ideas in Russell’s text. Student groups will present their analysis of one of the stages of culture shock in the text. Students will use the annotations and information they learned from the presentations to write a response to a prompt that asks students to analyze the how Russell develops a central idea and use multiple pieces of textual evidence.
15    Entire Text    Students will learn how to revise their Lesson 14 writing response by adding an introduction and a conclusion, preparing students for the End-of-Unit Assessment.     

16    Entire Text    Students will prepare for the End-of-Unit Assessment by discussing and engaging in a class debate about the prompt. Students will consolidate their understanding of the text by considering and interrogating its fundamental premise—the value of assimilation.       

17    Entire Text    Students will exhibit the literacy skills and habits developed in Unit 1 by writing a formal evidence-based essay addressing the assessment prompt.   

Here is how students have received the genius that is this EngageNY lesson module that uses one short story for three and a half weeks of lessons:
The first day, they're excited to start a new lesson and read a story that seems to be about werewolves.

By the third day, they're bored by reading and discussing the same story for three days straight and starting to get antsy.

By the sixth day, they're outwardly hostile to the lessons and the teacher for teaching the lessons. 

By the ninth day, they're totally disengaged from class and talk openly about how much they hate English.

By the twelve day, they no longer give a shit about anything - not the class, not the story, not the teacher, not the "assessment" (i.e., "test" for those of you who aren't fluent in reformy geekspeak) that is coming up on Day Seventeen.

By the seventeenth day, students complete the "assessment" with little regard to how they do on it because they stopped caring about the entire process somewhere between the end of Day Four and the beginning of Day Five.

Many people I know think that NYSED Commissioner John King and his merry men and women in reform at SED are diminished and humorless human beings, but I don't think that is so.

Any group of people that could call a website full of lessons that manages to completely disengage children from school "Engage NY" surely have a sense of irony somewhere beneath those nineties goatees and glasses. . . . .

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