Turn off the faucet!

Thursday, December 12, 2013
brought to you by Lori

We recently attended a Lead4ward training session called "Figuring Out Figure 19." If you're in Texas, you'll recognize this as our inferencing standard and our process standard. Essentially--this is the basis for all levels of deeper reading--regardless of grade level. 

Our facilitator for the day, Gayla Wiggins, said something that Suzanne and I have quoted many, many times since that day. In regards to the number of children in the state of Texas currently in need of some type of acceleration, she said that "we're so busy mopping the floor when we should just turn off the faucet." Over lunch, Suz and I later quipped that we can't turn off the faucet because we're drowning in all the water. Do you feel our pain? Are you there? 

But Gayla didn't leave us feeling entirely washed up. While she did a good job of articulating much of the current problem that we face with ELAR instruction, she also did a nice job of explaining the layers of our process standard and where the breakdown might be. As educators, we often talk about gaps, but she helped us to think about those gaps in very concrete ways and how we might move toward possible solutions. Hold on to your hats...this is good. 

Here are my notes from the session. I've also included a Lead4ward link. To get a complete look at the Lead4ward breakdown of Process Standards, click here and scroll to pages 14 and 15 of the PDF for ELAR. The format is different, but it will get the job done.
To think about the layers of Figure 19, Gayla split it up into three rows. Pay very close attention to ROW 1. By the end, you might have an aha moment. 
  • ROW 1--THINKING WITHIN THE TEXT--Adjust fluency according to purpose; use context clues; establish purpose for reading; ask questions while reading; monitor and adjust for comprehension
Basically, ROW 1 is a TOOL TO KNOW. It outlines all of the tools that make a reader a fluent reader. You ask and answer questions of the text and of yourself. You clarify meaning in your own in your head. This process is...for the most part...an invisible one. Not only is it invisible, but it takes a different shape for each individual reader. 
  • ROW 2--THINKING BEYOND THE TEXT--Summarize information and maintain meaning; make inferences and use evidence to support those inferences; make connections across texts and genres.
ROW 2 is also a TOOL TO KNOW, but the process is slightly more visible. We can discuss connections across texts and genres. But think about summarization. All good readers summarize in their head as they move from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph. So much of good reading is indeed an invisible process. 
  • ROW 3--EXTENDING THE THINKING--Summarize the message of fiction; explain controlling ideas in expository texts; Draw conclusions; Evaluate how well the author's purpose was achieved; Synthesize to make logical connections; Compare or contrast different author's writing on the same topic. 
Ok. So maybe you didn't even finish reading ROW 3 because it scared you. ROW 3 is scary. It is a WAY TO SHOW mastery of ROWS 1 and 2.

And that's where things get really scary. What if kids have not yet mastered ROW 1? If kids haven't mastered the art of reading fluently, then they cannot consistently and successfully use the tools from ROW 2 and they certainly can't begin to show any depth to their reading in ROW 3. (Have you looked at high school reading scores across the state?)

Here's the good news/bad news. The bad news is...maybe our faucet is POURING because we have too many kids at the high school level who are not yet fluent readers. While I'm not telling you anything new, I'm certainly acknowledging the problem right along with you and encouraging you that we can use the layers of Figure 19 to identify those gaps. 

And here's the good news. If it is an issue of fluency, then there is a solution. It's not a quick one. But, if your faucet is drip, drip, dripping and you can't seem to stop it, the answer lies in an elementary reading specialist. They are trained to teach children to read fluently, trained to teach them fix-up strategies, and trained to teach them to monitor their own comprehension. My number one suggestion to you is to find the best elementary reading specialist in your district and steal her away and bring her to your campus. 

It's time to return to the basics. It's time to address the gaps. It's time to turn off the faucet. 

Today's the last day to enter our giveaway for English II Shared Readings!  Even if you've already entered, you can tweet and share about The Curly Classroom giveaway for two, count 'em two, entries each day!  Check back to see if you're our big winner tomorrow- good luck!!

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