Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What A Common Core Language Arts Lesson Might Look Like in Middle School

It seems all education talk has turned to Common Core Standards and Career Readiness. Students and parents may be wondering what a lesson using the Common Core might look like. So, here is a lesson on outside reading in one nine-week period. Teachers around the country are trying to make sure that students are ready for high school and/or college whatever the case may be and that is the reason for Common Core Standards.

First, the teacher assigns a novel to read and students are given an assignment sheet that the class may or may not have collaborated on beforehand with a rubric (to get ideas from students and share in the formulation of a lesson). Let's say the novel is The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen. The Puffin edition has about 176 pages, so it would be reasonable to ask students to read this novel outside of class over nine weeks.

The teacher might suggest reading a certain number of pages per night or dividing the reading into chunks over the weekend.

The assignment might then ask students to make time to research something factual in this work of historical fiction. Students could research the Holocaust and Judaism.

The teacher could then ask her/his students to create a small project like some of the following:

  • Create a dialogue of texting back-and-forth between two characters in the novel. This option could be a lot fun because the novel goes back and forth in time by beginning at a Seder dinner on a Friday night. The end result would be to put the texting session on a poster with some drawings and facts from the research. The texting should be thoughtful and the student should pull out important passages to talk about - not just anything, but something that tells the reader about a meaningful part of the history of the Holocaust or Judaism
  • Create a Facebook page with some of the characters with pictures (cut from magazines or drawn) and create a timeline of the Holocaust and/or Judaism. The end result would need to be placed on a poster or if possible on a computer.
  • Create an Instagram photoset using pictures from online sets and write a blog about the novel. Include historical facts in the blog about the Holocaust and/or Judaism.
  • All of these ideas may or may not include some technology. It depends on how much technology the students have access to - e-readers, laptops, phones, desktops, i-Pads and other devices are wonderful devices to complete projects on
Parts of what is behind Common Core is students exploring and finding out information on their own. This small project involves online research, but students get to pick and choose what goes into their project. It also uses the creative side of the brain.

One of the biggest hopes of educators is that their students become lifelong learners and will go on to study and research for the rest of their lives.

So, here is just a glance of a lesson. It incorporates a lot more brainstorming on the parts of the teacher and students. Also, there are other behind-the-scenes questions and/or directions that take place in the classroom, but this might give you an idea of what you might expect.

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