Tag Archives: curriculum

Teaching the Diverse Narratives of US History

In this guest post, educator and writer Tami Charles presents text- dependent questions and inquiry-based activities for students to practice close reading and critical thinking with the book Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh. Continue reading

“Where’s My Story?”: Ideas for Teaching About Diversity in Books

In this guest post, originally posted at EdWeek and reposted here with permission, Philadelphia-based teacher Kathleen Melville shares the “Where’s My Story” project she developed to teach her ninth-grade students about diversity—or the lack thereof—in children’s books.  Continue reading

Integrating Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening in the Classroom

Katherine Aliguest bloggerKatherine Ali is a dual-certified elementary and special education teacher. She recently graduated as a literacy specialist with a Masters in Science from Manhattanville College. She has experience teaching internationally in northern China and now teaches in the Bronx, NY. 

There is a natural interplay of reading, writing, speaking and listening in the modern day elementary classroom. Morning meetings, read-alouds, and group projects foster an integrated model of literacy with a special focus on speaking and listening. Appendix A of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) states that “oral language development precedes and is the foundation for written language development; in other words, oral language is primary and written language builds on it.”

After students have begun reading and writing, speaking and listening still have an integral place in the classroom – so much that the CCSS set specific standards for speaking and listening to promote a balanced approach to literacy: “The speaking and listening standards require students to develop a range of broadly useful oral communication and interpersonal skills…students must learn to work together, express and listen carefully to ideas, and integrate information.” The speaking and listening standards expect students to participate in “rich, structured conversations” in which they are building on the ideas of others and speaking in complete sentences. Teachers need to create models and routines for deliberate and intentional dialogue that builds bridges to the students’ reading and writing. In that way, students have the opportunity to also recognize the organic intertwining of these modes of receptive and expressive language.

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Teaching Writer’s Craft With Multicultural Literature

Jane GangiJane M. Gangi is Associate Professor in the Division of Education at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, New York, where she is a member of the Collaborative for Equity in Literacy Learning (CELL); CELL is working with Student Achievement Partners to make Appendix B of the Common Core more inclusive of multicultural literature.  She is the children’s literature section editor for the Connecticut Reading Association Journal, and Routledge will publish her third book, Genocide in Contemporary Children’s and Young Adult Literature: Cambodia to Darfur in November.

Most educators realize children need to see themselves in text to become proficient readers and to develop healthy identities. When our classroom library collections largely contain books with white characters, white children have more opportunities toWhat if we could embrace children of color with mirror texts, provide white children with window books, and teach writer's craft simultaneously? become proficient readers and to develop healthy identities. Rudine Sims Bishop (1990) described books that are “windows”—those that offer “views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange” that children “only have to walk through” imaginatively. “Mirror” books are those in which “literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience” (n. p.). What if we could embrace children of color with mirror texts, provide white children with window books (for too long it’s been the reverse), and teach writer’s craft simultaneously?

Writer’s craft is part of writer’s workshop. In a mini-lesson, a teacher might read aloud a beautifully written book and then ask children to respond to what they notice about the author’s writing. Often children notice the format of a book and come up with evocative phrases, images, and sentences they observe in the book. If, however, they do not discover writer’s craft on their own, teachers can help them see components of writer’s craft.

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“The Common Core is Not a Curriculum”

What is the Common Core? How should it be used?Guest blogger

Katherine AliKatherine Ali is a dual-certified elementary and special education teacher. She recently graduated as a literacy specialist with a Masters in Science from Manhattanville College. She has experience teaching internationally in northern China and now teaches in the Bronx, NY.

As a first year teacher in the Common Core Era, I felt fortunate to have the Common Core State Standards as a guide for my instruction, especially working in a school with an under-developed curriculum and limited resources.  One of my most used applications on my phone was CommonCore, day in and day out.  Studying and closely reading the standards helped me choose the literature I wanted to share with my students, and furthermore it affected how my students and I were going to interact with those materials.  A video created by D.C. public schools, seen during a presentation I attended, was a turning point in my own understanding of the major differences between the Common Core and a curriculum.

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Close Reading + Visual Literacy=Pathways for Understanding

Katie Cunninghamguest bloggerGuest blogger Katie Cunningham is an Assistant Professor at Manhattanville College. Her teaching and scholarship centers around children’s literature, critical literacy, and supporting teachers to make their classrooms joyful and purposeful. Katie has presented at numerous national conferences and is the editor of The Language and Literacy Spectrum, New York Reading Association’s literacy journal.

John Berger, in his famous documentary and book Ways of Seeing, explained that “Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.” Visual literacies are, perhaps, the primary and first ways young children understand the world. Young children are not only visual readers of the world they are naturally close readers as well. They closely read people’s facial expressions. They read signs to orient themselves. They read new blades of grass, flakes of snow, and changes in leaves as signs of seasonal change. For young children, close reading and visual literacies are their pathways for understanding. Yet our capacities to closely read what we see should be valued and strengthened beyond early childhood.

Society certainly thinks so. Instagram now has more than 100 million active users per month and is increasingly being taken up by teens and tweens as their site of choice over Facebook. Pinterest has more than 48.7 million users. Staggeringly, more than one billion unique users visit You Tube each month. Businesses today certainly recognize the power of visually-driven social media outlets as the primary way to reach potential clients. Yet too often the skill of closely reading what we experience visually is devalued in school over traditional print-based text. Are the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) repositioning the power of the visual as part of the definition of what it means to be an attentive reader today? One hopes so.Too often the skill of closely reading what we experience visually is devalued in school over traditional print-based text.

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Using Children’s Books to Teach About Love and Belonging

Guest blogger Katie Cunningham is an Assistant Professor at Manhattanville College. Her teaching and scholarship centers around children’s literature, critical guest bloggerliteracy, and supporting teachers to make their classrooms joyful and purposeful. Katie has presented at numerous national conferences and is the editor of The Language and Literacy Spectrum, New York Reading Association’s literacy journal. 

We know love when we see it. The best mornings I have as a parent are when I see love between my sons. Moments like when my one-and-a-half year old spontaneously hugs my four year old, and he hugs him back. The best mornings I had as a teacher were when I saw love between my students. When a second grader high-fives a classmate for taking a risk with a math problem or when a student sits by someone at lunch who looks alone. As a parent and an educator, I am always on the look out for stories that center love in ways that enable young children to immediately but deeply understand what love is.

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