Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Next Generation ELD Standards

at 6:10 PM
Common Core.

Two words that are currently a panic-inducing, stress-causing, argument-fueling anathema to those in the education field.

I, for one, believe they are exactly what we, as a society, need.

But I know it's scary. Change always is.

With that, I also want to bring up the issue of this video that has been circling around the internet.

My response to this video:  
I will start by admitting I have not looked at the math standards for common core (because I teach English). However, what she did was present an argument based on the statement that the answer "common core" expected of the students was to draw pictures and tally marks. What she didn't do was provide anyone with where she got that "fact." I'd like to remind people that Common Core is a set of standards, but that grading and scoring is based on individual teachers. If, in fact, a student was marked down as she stated on a classroom assignment, then her vendetta should be against the teacher and not the standards. If it was a missed answer on a test, then the creators of the test are the problem. Currently there are no finished tests from either consortium creating tests based on Common Core Standards in any subject. While there have been a few pilot tests from both consortiums, it is to be remembered that they are still in draft form (thus the word "pilot") and no districts should be using them as assessments. 
From what I've seen of the standards (and I've studied the ELA, Literacy, and ELD standards in depth), Common Core will increase rigor and raise the bar of accountability we hold our students to ...if implemented correctly. That depends on the teachers and districts. In my opinion, teachers who are against the Common Core standards should be taking a good hard look at their pedagogy and whether or not they have the best interests of our future generations in mind, or if laziness or animosity towards change is the real issue.

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I'm lucky enough to work in a district that values trainings. Because of this, we are miles ahead in understanding the Common Core Standards, compared to other districts in the state.

Our training today was about the Next Generation ELD Standards [Fun fact! Today I learned that any of the "Next Generation Standards" are for California only. This is interesting to know because the only science standards I've see aligning to Common Core are the NextGen Science Standards.]

However, in order to fully understand the NextGen ELD Standards, you need to have a pretty good understanding of the CCSS for ELA.

Reminder, I made some pretty sweet "I Can Common Core!" handouts for 7th and 8th grade ELA standards. (They've been re-pinned from my Pinterest board over 200 times!)

As our trainers today reminded us, this (meaning Common Core) is new to everyone.

Research shows that one needs to be introduced to something new 20 times before they can successfully apply that knowledge. [Food for thought: How does this tidbit of information mold current teaching practices?]

Our trainer today described everyone's reactions to the Common Core as starting as:
"It'll be a change! Yup, it's a change. Ok, this is changing things."
"It's a focus on Literacy. Yup, they're going to focus more on literacy. Ok, we so know it's focusing on literacy."
And hopefully molding towards complete understanding.

To help with understanding the actual change from the current CA State Standards to the Common Core Standards, read this synopsis from the "Common Core and English Learner Advocacy Toolkit" provided by CaliforniansTogether.org.

Talking Teaching Network created another great document to help you visualize the standards. They created a Step-Ladder of the ELA standards from Kinder-12th grade. What this does is put all the standards, by grade, on the same page for each strand. This allows you to see what the students should be learning each year. Since the Common Core Standards are a continuum, building on the information from the years prior, it is helpful to see at what grade students should have been introduced to a skill.

The reason this was brought up in our training today was because it is helpful when working with ELs. Which, to be honest, is a huge likelihood when you work in California.

Obviously, the first step is determining what your student's current ability is. The problem is how to get them to grade level. Everyone is always telling you to scaffold and chunk to get them up to speed. They rarely tell you how. The plus side of having a continuum for standards is that they're already chunked for you! Use this step-ladder to help in lesson planning, especially when scaffolding for ELs. Maybe the standard for your grade level says to be able to cite multiple pieces of evidence. Look at the page for that standard in the step-ladder and see that three grades below it was cite one piece of evidence. Can they do that? Great! If not, start there. After that's mastered -- oh, wait, with the new standards we aren't looking for mastery of skills so much as for continual improvement of techniques. When they've practiced adding one piece of evidence, look at the next grade level's standard, and work with them on that. Continue that scaffolding until they are where they should be. FYI, the above example was an idea of a generic skill, I did not quote an actual standard.

Moving on.

The ELD standards. These were created by California (and district ELD specialists were part of the creation process) to act as a tool for scaffolding for your EL students. These standards are not stand-alone. Unlike the ELD standards California created in 1999, which were created separate from ELA and content area standards. In fact, the ELD standards from 1999 were created after the CEDLT was created, and were based solely on the CEDLT, as a means to teach toward the test. Yuck, right? The new standards were created to be layered on top of content area standards. Yup, I said content area standards, not ELA.

In teaching, we often talk about ELA as separate from other content areas, especially when talking about language instruction. What Common Core does in remind us all that language acquisition is the responsibility of ALL content area teachers.

Therefore, ALL content area teachers need to know how to scaffold for ELs -- that includes being trained in the NextGen ELD standards. It's not enough for them to just be aware of these standards. Content area teachers need to be able to own these standards as well as their own subject area.

Even our district is struggling with this idea. Our assistant principal brought this up at the training today. After we were shown how the ELD standards should be layered over the ELA standards and told that they are supposed to be layered over all content area standards, he asked when we would be training our content area teachers. Obviously, the people from district who were in the room with us were in agreement that content area teachers need the same instruction in these standards as ELD teachers do. However, they said district's response (at the moment) was that with the new NextGen Science Standards just coming into play, they felt it would be unhelpful to "throw something" else new at them. Hopefully, key players in our district will continue to push for those trainings to happen, and hopefully your district will provide training in these as well. Seriously, if you are a content area teacher and haven't heard about the NextGen ELD standards, go ask your district why not. Those standards are for all subject areas and it will only hinder our students if we do not push for all teachers to be trained in them.

We spent a lot of the day looking in depth at the standards, and that's something I encourage all teachers to do. However, it's not something I can really verbalize here.

If you haven't seen any of the standards, please use the links below.

Tulare County Office of Education created some great resources for Common Core, including putting the ELA standards side by side for comparison through grade levels. Look on this page under CCSS Continuums. If you can get them printed on larger paper (like two normal pages together), it makes them easier to read. TCOE has some great resources for CCSS.

The CDE's page for content standards.

Also, California Department of Education has created drafts of frameworks for the content areas.

Again, taking the time to familiarize yourself with the standards can only help. Knowledge is key. Get in the know!


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